Via Veneto is a charming, authentic Italian restaurant in Santa Monica — right on Main Street – that rivals Valentino’s, widely- considered Los Angeles best Italian eatery. Some may call this heresy, but they probably haven’t visited Via Veneto.
With a romantic ambience, a welcoming staff , exquisite food and a varied wine list, Via Veneto is one of those places you want to visit again and again.
We recommend starting with the warm mixed seafood salad (INSALATA DI MARE TIEPIDA), with an extra virgin olive oil and lemon dressing that brings out the flavors of the seafood, but the CAPRESE CON BUFALA LAZIALE — buffalo mozzarella from “Lazio”, heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive oil — is also wonderful. Or try the CARPACCIO DI MANZO prime filet of beef, baby artichokes, Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon dressing which will be one of the best you’ve had.
Actually, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything on the menu that isn’t spectacular. Instead of pompous service, which you might expect, the Italian waiters are all Italian and friendly, hosting you as if you were having a meal in their home.
We sampled the home-made ravioli, declaring the pumpkin pasta pillows our favorite. Then again, we fought over the last bite of the fresh gnocchi in a tomato basil sauce too. SPAGHETTI ALL’ ARAGOSTA — a stunning dish of spaghetti with fresh Maine lobster, heirloom cherry tomatoes, extra and virgin olive oil satisfies the seafood and the pasta craving with one dish. If you’re not sure what to drink with the courses, ask your waiter or the knowledgeable sommelier. And by all means start with a glass of their dry Prosecco.
Feel like a steak? Try the BISTECCA NEW YORK, a bone in aged 28 days Kansas City New York steak, in olive oil and sea salt and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over top, which adds a nice bite to the dish. FETTUCCINE ALLA BOLOGNESE is a hearty dish of home made fettuccine in a traditional meat sauce, with gigantic meatballs. You’ll want the offering of extra bread to sop up every drop of the sauce. For seafood fans, go for the SPAGHETTI ALLO SCOGLIO with mussels, clams, shrimp and calamari, or if it’s available that day, the CACIUCCO fish stew made to order daily with selection of fresh fish and crustacean.
Owner Fabrizio Bianconi came from Italy over ten years ago, determined to create masterful dishes from home so you get a combination of classic specialities sprinkled in with creative dishes with locally sourced ingredients. Fortunately for us, he discovered a beautiful space in Santa Monica, christened it Via Veneto and opened the restaurant in 2002.
All the pastas are home-made, the seafood couldn’t be any fresher unless you were on the docks, and the desserts — especially the tiramisu — is made that day and is light as air.
The restaurant is pricey, but well worth the splurge.
Ask for Allessandro, who can guide you through the menu and wine pairings with delight, or Simone, the wine “guy” who put together the wine list.
As the sun went down right outside the window, the candles and the huge chandeliers lit up the intimate restaurant, in a scene right out of a romantic movie. Cue the desert tray.
3009 Main Street
Santa Monica, California 90405