Ristorante Al Mare: Fine Dining at the Santa Monica Pier


Mutt and Jeff. Angie and Brad. Newest pairing: fine dining with the Santa Monica Pier.

T37-07-ONLINE ONLY-Sue FacterIt’s an international delight. Two Roman childhood friends had a dream. Franco Sorgi and Paolo Simone, who are more like brothers than partners, own Travestere and La Piazza in Los Angeles. Their newest venture is Ristorante Al Mare with something the others don’t have — sweeping ocean views.

The historic landmark building was a former home to the Arcadia nightclub. It was vacant for a decade. Reconstruction of the 9,000 square foot building took two years.

To create the menu, the team brought on seasoned chef Giacomo Pettinari, also an Italian transplant, who worked with notable chefs including Ferran Adria and recently worked as a chef at the prestigious Valentino in West L.A.

Who doesn’t enjoy ocean dining? This stunning  restaurant features a rooftop deck with full bar, 2nd floor balcony terraces, private dining room, and 1st floor main dining room and bar, as well as exterior decks overlooking the boardwalk, sand, sea and mountains. Pair that with a sunset and ocean breezes and you can’t beat it. It’s as good as it gets. In fact, it’s the only rooftop dining option on the Pier.

David Hibbert, the restaurant’s architect, sat at a nearby table when we visited. Its neighbor is Bubba Shrimp. But the chic new kid in the neighborhood can accommodate 260 with an eclectic dinner atmosphere with candlelight. One of the first things we noticed was the unusual chandeliers, turned upside down. You don’t want to miss the modern art sweeping the restaurant and stairwells. This particular night, there was a private party on the rooftop, so dining in that area was out. But the views are supreme. It neighbors Cirque de Soleil when in season and the Santa Monica famed carousel.

General Manager Marco Tencanera, from La Piazza, created the wine list.

I invited my friends, Todd Barrett and Cason Moore to join me at dinner. With three distinctive tastes, we all agreed that the Lasagne Bolonese was the best lasagna we have ever tasted. It was so light; it melted in your mouth.

My dinner started with an Insalata di Soinaci e Uvawith spinach and arugula, grapes, crumbled gorgonzola, hazelnuts and creamy Balsamic dressing.

Oops, almost forgot, the chef brought over his freshly Bruschetta al Pomodoro to start our feast. My friends chose Zuppa di Fagioli, Ceci e Gamberi soup...

We had heard about the homemade butter and were not disappointed. It’s made from fresh local organic pastures. No one was brave enough to order the octopus, but I hear it’s a must.

Dessert: As chocoholics, we delighted in a large variety of mini choices. To cleanse the palate, we enjoyed the mango and lemon sorbet (paired with blueberries and strawberries).

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Sue Facter writes about all things A-list for publications world-wide. Follow her on Twitter @TheFacter.

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