If you’re trying to find more authentic Italian food than Via Veneto is serving you’re probably going to need your passport and a flight to Italy. This neighborhood treasure from owners, Fabrizio Bianconi and Marco Cialini as well as Chef Ruben Vasquez has been delighting locals with incredible food and unparalleled service since first opening it’s doors almost a decade ago. Located in a small unassuming space on Main Street, just as Santa Monica becomes Venice, you may have driven by it with out even noticing it was there. However when you step inside you can’t help but be struck by the candle lit tables reflecting light from the beautiful crystal chandeliers hung from what seem to be impossibly high ceilings. The stone floors and concrete walls not only add to the ambiance but block out street noise and cell phone signals creating a peaceful romantic environment. I recently had the pleasure of dining at Via Veneto for the first time and my only regret was that it took me this long to discover it in the first place.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the host and led to our table where our server Simone brought us a glass of prosecco to enjoy while we looked over the menu and he ran through the numerous specials. Simone, originally from Rome, is not only one of the most charming waiters you will ever encounter, but also an experienced sommelier able to give expert advice about their extensive wine list to make sure you find a wine that perfectly compliments your meal. He recommended us the Fattoria Del Cerro and we were not disappointed in the least. Speaking of the meal itself, we decided to order a tasting menu that allowed us to sample a variety of their pastas and entrees. After placing our order we were brought green olives and bread for the table both of which were fresh and delicious. The first things to come out were the antipasti; consisting of a plate of 24 month aged San Daniele prosciutto and burrata served with fresh figs, and a tartare sampler featuring their beef and ahi tartares served with a quale egg.
The prosciutto was incredible, the tartares were light and flavorful, and the presentation of both was exceptional. Next came the pasta course, which contained 4 dishes in total. We had 3 different homemade raviolis – ricotta and spinach, veal, and pumpkin; as well as the white truffle risotto for the final dish. The standouts from the pasta course were the pumpkin ravioli, a unique dish that captures the perfect combination of savory with a hint of sweetness; and the white truffle risotto, which is served with a generous topping of fresh shaved white truffle.
For our entrees we were treated to a surf and turf consisting of the pan roasted rack of Sonoma lamb served in a crust of fine herbs and grilled langoustine seasoned with garlic and butter, both of which were tasty and cooked perfectly. At this point the idea of more food seemed outlandish, but we’re dedicated to our craft here at Food Flaunt so we decided to take one for the team and order the desert sampler. After just a few minutes to regain our bearings and composure, Simone showed up with a plate full of deserts. There was tiramisu, panna cotta, sbrisolona alla nutella, and bread pudding, all of which were delicious, but the panna cotta was one of the best I’ve ever had. I sort of imagine that if you die and go to heaven this panna cotta is what they give you as a door prize as you pass through the pearly gates. Via Veneto is truly a hidden gem and now one of my top five date restaurants anywhere in Los Angeles, if you haven’t been we strongly recommend you try it for your next date night or special occasion.