Locanda Portofino – In the Neighborhood

Restaurant: Locanda Portofino

Location: 1110 Montana Ave. Santa Monica, Ca 90403. 310-394-2070

Date: May 20, 2011

Cuisine: Northern Italian

Summary: Tasty neighborhood Italian

ANY CHARACTER HERE

For whatever reason Los Angeles has a lot of Italian restaurants. There’s a lot of competition and innovation, and as far as I can tell we’re about tied with NY as the best town in the US for this wonderful (and justifiably popular) cuisine. This also means that there is a total and ridiculous excess of neighborhood Italians. I’ll try any of them once, but I pretty much never go to 75% of them a second time. There are just too many good ones to eat some ho-hum boxed pasta. In any case, Locanda Portofino is one of the good ones.


The menu.


I’m very partial to Amarone. They’re pretty much all drinkable (and grapey).


“Ceasar salad.”


“Bresaola con rucola. Thinly sliced cured beef with virgin olive oil, lemon, rucola and shaved parmigiano.” A very nice rendition of this classic.


“Penne vodka. Penne with light cream tomato sauce, shallots and vodka.”


“Tagliatelle alla boscaiola con salsicce. Green and white egg tagliatelle in a light cream sauce with pancetta, ground sausage, mushrooms and green peas.” I love love this pasta. It’s not far off from al carbonara either, but isn’t eggy in the same way. I love the combo of the peas, the two types of pig, and the peas. No wonder my cardiologist gives me a hard time.

Pretty much anything on the menu here is well done, but this was just Friday date night and so there are only a couple pics. Still, if you live on the Westside, forget those chain Italians, or the lame kitchen “red sauces” and go to Locanda Portofino, Delfini, Palmeri, Osteria Latini or the like. Or if you want higher end: Capo or Drago.

Quick Eats: Kreation Kafe

Restaurant: Kreation Kafe

Location: 1023 Montana Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90403. (310) 458-4880

Date: January 21, 2011

Cuisine: Modern Mediterranean

Rating: Tasty and modernized take on kabobs and mezzas

 

On the once bustling Montana (now home to more than a few empty stores) is this little med cafe. They have tables out front and a patio in back. The interior space is tiny. The food is very fresh and organic.

The Menu.

Someone else’s salads.

“Eggplant Dip Flavored with Tomatoes, Red Onion and a touch of Garlic.” Basically Baba ghanuosh, but very fresh. With almonds and a crunchy fennel salad.

Yogurt Dip Persian Garden Cucumber with diced Shallots, Fresh Mint, Dill and Parsley.” A really good example of the type. Very fresh, with the bright intensity of the Yogurt front and center. There isn’t a lot of garlic here like in a tzatziki.

It all goes nicely with the Persian style flat bread.

“Smoked salmon, various salads, olives, cucumber tomato, red onion, cream cheese, capers.” All very fresh.

“Braised Beef Short Rib Plate.” Like chunks of good tender pot roast. Kind of a cross over between a kabob and Shabbat dinner.

“Braised Beef Short Rib Sandwich.” Same thing, on a roll.

Usually I get the “Niman Ranch Ground Beef Kabob” here, which slathered in the yoghurt sauce is pretty awesome.

Another nice thing about this place is that it’s only a block from Cafe Luxxe, which has hand’s down the best cafe expresso in Los Angeles. This is the most incredible cappuccino, without even the slightest hint of bitterness. It isn’r even hot, body temperature, with the micro foam blended in all perfect. Just goes down easy.