One of the most resplendent restaurants in the Valley is Santuari. Overlooking Toluca Lake on Forest Lawn Drive, this venue has been undergoing over two years of fine tuning. The result is a strikingly beautiful masterpiece.
The bar/lounge is newly renovated and features a specialty cocktail menu, with drinks sporting novel names like “7-Year Itch” and “Classy Fawcett,” as well as classic cocktails, craft beers and an impressive wine list. The dining areas are quite diverse. The “Green Room” bursts with color and style with a Moroccan feel, while the main dining room and patio have an understated elegance of white leather and soft cushions. The patio especially invites one to relax, feel at home… and never want to leave.
The main attraction is the cuisine. Described as fresh Californian with Mediterranean accents, the food is as eclectic as the décor. Executive Chef Brendan Mica has created a stellar menu from appetizers to desserts. Initially trained at the California School of Culinary Arts in South Pasadena, he honed his skills by traveling and working around the world, as is evident from many of the exotic ingredients in his recipes. This writer sampled the Black Sea Bass Ceviche appetizer with poblano crème, Fresno peppers, lime, cilantro and sumac, with dainty garlic chips that tease the mouth with a tiny crunch. De-lish!
Lunch offers many options, from flatbreads, sandwiches and salads, to entrees of seafood, meats and chicken. Dinner highlights a variety of starters, such as pumpkin hummus, mussels or grilled octopus, pastas and unique salads. Mouth watering entrees include seared sea scallops, grilled lamb rack and braised short ribs. But save room for dessert! Who can pass up Turkish Coffee Panna Cotta or Crème Fraiche Cheesecake?
As elegant as Santuari is, one might expect exorbitant prices, but no, not at all. And their Social Hour, from 3pm to 7pm, offers munchies and yummy flatbreads, as well as draft beers, wine by the glass, well drinks, even specialty cocktails, all reasonably priced. It is no wonder the reviews have been spectacular!
Part of the Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club, yet open to the public, this gorgeous restaurant has been evolving for years, and well worth the wait. The owners, the Ramseys, of Ramsey-Schilling Real Estate fame, have truly made this a family affair, hosting group meetings with everyone contributing their own ideas regarding décor, staffing and more. General Manager Kim Gregory is very pro-active, and the choice of Brendan Mica as executive chef was brilliant.
Santuari won 2018’s “Best of Los Angeles Best New Restaurant Award,” and from its friendly and well trained wait staff, to its magnificent décor and its to-die-for-made-from-scratch cuisine, it is clear why.
Santuari Restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch from 11:30am to 3pm, Social Hour from 3pm to 7pm and dinner from 6pm to 10pm. Santuari Restaurant is located at 6711 Forest Lawn Dr. in Los Angeles. Call (323) 902-9700.