HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Discussion

Villetta - Santa Monica

  • 24
  • Share

We rarely go to a new restaurant soon after its opening. We generally wait until the “kinks” have been worked out. We have a long history with this restaurant space. It was originally the restaurant, Camelions with Elka Gilmore as the chef. It was terrific. Then the space became Chez Mimi and it was mediocre. Now as Villetta the space has undergone a 3 million dollar restoration and it is charming, inviting and lovely. Originally built and occupied by renowned architect John Byers, this is truly a landmarked gem. You can choose to dine in the lovely garden outside, the bar area, a small outdoor lounge or one of the two smaller dining areas.

We got to Villetta as soon at it opened and this turned out to be very fortuitous as we got to meet and chat with the chef, Pippa Calland and GM Antonio De Cicco. Their philosophy regarding cuisine and hospitality mirrors our tastes exactly.

Pippa Calland was formerly the chef at Le Madri and Luna Park in New York City. She has 3 key words for her cuisine – focus, restraint and concentration. “What’s not on the plate is just as important as what is.” She is committed to getting the very best of fresh-from-market fish, meats and seasonal produce. For example, all meat is from whole animals and delivered 3 days after slaughter and butchered on site.

Antonio De Cicco, the former Manager of Toscana Restaurant is a terrific host who gives back the real meaning of hospitality. We were treated as if we had been dining at Villetta for years and certainly didn’t feel this was a brand-new restaurant.

Complimentary white bean puree with parmesan crackers

We ordered one dish at a time and split each dish – our normal “one for two”

Seared blue fin tuna a la nicoise with fava bean puree, black olives, frilled red mustards and a hard cooked quail’s egg – absolutely delicious and the quality of the tuna was sashimi grade. Pippa explained (Pippa was our waitress and delivered the dish herself!) that the tuna was over $30 a pound at her cost. The fava bean puree was the perfect accent to the tuna and the quail egg had a soft slightly runny yolk – perfect.

Pippa insisted that we try one of the pizzas and since she noticed that I have a “thing” for eggs (she heard me wax poetic over the soft yolk in the quail’s egg), she choose the pizza with asparagus, speck, sottocenere and sunny side up egg – The guy in charge of making the pizza is from Naples and this is a true Italian pizza. Again each component worked beautifully and my husband has plans for take-out pizza in his future.

Santa Barbara spot prawns a la plancha with garlic,lemon zest, crushed red pepper, cannellini beans – another winner, executed perfectly – the shrimp heads were meaty and full of roe and equally delicious were the cannellini beans.

Tagliolini with Santa Barbara Uni, parma butter and Meyer Lemon – an A+ dish – the pasta is fresh and made in house – perfect. Again the whole far exceeded each component – a terrific marriage of ingredients.

We consider Villetta a real find and we can’t wait to go back. Next time we will just let Chef Pippa chose our menu.

Their site here:
http://www.villetta.us/

Pics of the meal here:
http://lizziee.wordpress.com/2011/05/...

-----
Luna Park
672 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Toscana Restaurant
11633 San Vicente Blvd Ste 100, Los Angeles, CA 90049

Villetta
246 26th St, Santa Monica, CA 90402

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Thanks for the heads up Lizziee. On my list of restauratns to try. I knew there were some roots from Toscana - a restaurant a lot of people love, but I merely like. So I didn't rush there. But it's now moved way up my priority list! (and it's so very close)

    -----
    Toscana Restaurant
    11633 San Vicente Blvd Ste 100, Los Angeles, CA 90049

    3 Replies
    1. re: foodiemahoodie

      We went the other night. Pizzas were absolutely fantastic. Antonio knows how to make everyone welcome. I would wait though for a bit as they still have kinks to work out. It took waay too long for our main courses to come out. These are easy fixes and are to be expected with a new place. Looking forward to going back.

      1. re: gordo26

        If you go early there is no long wait between courses.

        1. re: lizziee

          I guess that would be true of most restaurants:)

    2. Nice review, lizziee. Thanks for the info, sounds like another solid addition to the Brentwood scene. Can't wait to try them.

      Just curious, how did the wine list look, if you did look at it? And about how much did the tab end up? Thanks again.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Phurstluv

        We bought the champagne and BYO'd the white. My husband looked at the wine list so I can't comment. I didn't see the tab but it wasn't "off the top" exorbitant or my husband would have said something. I think the bar area does snacks. It is one of the few restaurants in the area with a full liquor license and it can serve until 2 am. I can't imagine that happening given that this is Brentwood.

        1. re: Phurstluv

          the wine list is on their website, which i checked out after someone mentioned Villetta in another thread over the weekend.

          http://www.villetta.us/wine.html

          -----
          Villetta
          246 26th St, Santa Monica, CA 90402

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            There sure are some hefty markups on that list.

            1. re: Nootka

              Try paying for a several million dollar remodel AND Brentwood rental prices and see what your wine markups need to be set at before you gripe too much...

              1. re: Servorg

                Thanks, I'm aware that restaurants out here have high costs. But they're also judged against their competition. A lot of wines on this list seem to be marked up to a higher degree than other westside places this place is competing with (which presumably have similar economic pressures). I'm looking forward to trying this place out next weekend, but the wine list gave me some pause.

                1. re: Nootka

                  I don't know their corkage policy, but it's probably worth while checking on it by calling. And the economic pressure is always greater for the newer places that are just beginning their lease.

                2. re: Servorg

                  This restaurant has about 3 dozen investors (matter of public record.) I would not be so quick to defend the high wine markups. I know investors who are unhappy with the "hefty markups."

                3. re: Nootka

                  Prices for wine list have been removed from the website.

            2. BTW - despite what they say on their website - open 11:30 for lunch M-F. They are NOT yet open for lunch. I went today and they were closed. I called them and confirmed that.

              So DON'T JUST GO FOR LUNCH. They said in a few weeks. Call first!

              10 Replies
              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                They're now open for lunch.

                1. re: foodiemahoodie

                  Has Villetta substantially changed its menu? We were considering going this "Carmageddon" weekend, looked at the menu and I did not see anything very interesting. Instead, I see Pasta Pomodoro and Pasta Bolognese, 2 fish (salmon & swordfish) Also, no desserts on the online menu? I know that they initially had a pastry chef. It would appear that she is gone. Has anyone been there recently?

                  -----
                  Villetta
                  246 26th St, Santa Monica, CA 90402

                  1. re: maudies5

                    First off don’t go by the on-line menu – the Chef is committed to seasonal ingredients and in fact I saw her shopping at Sunday’s Farmer’s Market in Brentwood. Two reviews below – one for a dinner and one for lunch.

                    DINNER:
                    We had made the decision from our first time at Villetta to just let Chef Pippa Calland devise a menu for us. We did just that and I can highly recommend that this is a perfect way to experience Villetta. Chef Calland prides herself on ingredient quality and seasonality. Letting her create your menu will insure that you get the “best of the best” from her stash of “goodies.”

                    Amuse of white bean dip and parmesan chips

                    Pizza with Squash Blossom, La Credenza Cheese, Pignoli, Chives and Jalapeno – great beginning.

                    Copper River Salmon Crudo, Julienne of Cucumber, Chervil, Hot and Sweet Chili Sauce. A refreshing crudo that was somewhat reminiscent of a tartar.

                    Roasted Marrow Bones with an Oxtail/Onion Marmalade topped with edible flowers, mixed greens served with Ciabatta – the last time that I had similar marrow bones was at St John’s in London – classic preparation executed perfectly.

                    Jidori Chicken Livers, Frisee, Lardons of Pancetta (made in house), Dressing from Pancetta Reduction and Preserved Truffles from Piedmont and a Poached Farm Egg
                    The rich orange yolk is opened to seep on top of the frisee – this was one of my favorite dishes of the night – absolutely delicious

                    Santa Barbara spot prawns a la plancha with garlic, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, Gigante beans – Pippa asked if we minded having this again – not in the least and as good as last time.

                    Agnolotti stuffed with veal and pork, butter and sage sauce – another winner

                    Dry aged bone-in strip steak “tagliata” with wild arugula, radishes, shaved parmesan

                    Cadillac Ice Margarita – lime, Tequila, Grand Marnier – sort of a palate awakener.

                    For the record the pastry chef is still there.

                    Mascarpone Cheesecake, Creme Anglais, Graham Cracker Crust (the graham crackers are made in house)

                    San Vicente in Brentwood has become an Italian restaurant row scene. Villetta, the newest, is by far the best. This is a food and wine focused restaurant with a “real” chef running the kitchen and a dedicated and knowledgeable front of the house staff.

                    Pics here:
                    http://lizziee.wordpress.com/2011/05/...

                    LUNCH:
                    We have tried Villetta for dinner twice and it seemed like a lunch experience should definitely be on our agenda.

                    The patio is a lovely place to dine, particularly during the day.

                    Quattro forrmaggi pizza with wild arugula, shallot jam and tomato. The four cheeses were goat cheese, taleggio, crescenza and parmesan. The cheese was deliciously gooey and the crust perfect.

                    Me – Steamed Baja Mussels with white wine, braised fennel, tomato confit, white beans and focaccia breadcrumbs. Chef Pippa handles ingredients perfectly – the seafood broth was textbook perfect – she never takes short cuts and it shows. The mussels were plump and also executed perfectly.

                    My husband - Lamb polpettine and tomato gravy served with mini balkies. You are in charge of putting your “meatball” sandwich together. My husband loved the tomato gravy so much he asked for extra sauce.

                    This was a leisurely lunch in a lovely setting with delicious food — a great addition to Brentwood.

                    Pics here:
                    http://lizziee.wordpress.com/2011/06/...

                    I have 2 more dinners to write up and we were there Carmageddon" weekend - not written up yet.

                    -----
                    Mascarpone's
                    1448 E Katella Ave, Orange, CA 92867

                    Sweet Chili
                    8276 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

                    Villetta
                    246 26th St, Santa Monica, CA 90402

                    1. re: lizziee

                      "First off don’t go by the on-line menu." quoting Lizzlee. Why bother to even have an on-line menu if it is not going to reflect what is actually on the menu in the restaurant? Why are desserts no longer listed? On the initial menus the desserts looked very special.
                      Anyway, thanks for responding. I do often rely on online menus to gather a sense of the selections.

                      1. re: maudies5

                        But lizziee just delivered to you in and of and why for the absolute and most important reason that CH exists...and you sort of tell her "that's all fine and dandy but I need an online menu to guide me." Huh?

                        1. re: Servorg

                          The menu looks unchanged to me. But you should know that the more standard, traditional looking items on the menu might well deliver some suprises. I know the vitello tonato I had was straight forward, but the addition of some pickled peppers gave it a nice contemporary twist. (I'd get it again).

                          In contrast to, say, Madeo - they do traditional and you get traditional.

                          -----
                          Madeo Restaurant
                          8897 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                          1. re: Servorg

                            My goodness, such passion!! All I did was report that the online menu seemed to be inaccurate. I do not need an "online guide to guide me" Servorg. However, I do use online menus as a guide. Apparently, others who post on this forum also look at online menus.

                            1. re: maudies5

                              Any idea what happened to Executive Chef, Pippa Calland? I hear that she has left Villetta.

                              -----
                              Villetta
                              246 26th St, Santa Monica, CA 90402

                              1. re: maudies5

                                I thought for sure Lizziee would know what happened to Pippa.

                                1. re: maudies5

                                  Villetta's opening chef Pippa Calland has been removed from her position, and new chef Dylan Hallas (Ursa) moves in as a replacement. [EaterWire]

                                  -----
                                  Villetta
                                  246 26th St, Santa Monica, CA 90402