Bruno’s on Pacific Avenue in Santa Monica is a small, old school red sauce Italian joint the likes of which don’t find their way around Los Angeles anymore. There’s nothing progressive or nouveau or chichi about the place and that’s why people like it. Pizza, pasta, soup, salad along with some chicken and veal entrees, beer, wine and dessert served in a red checkered tablecloth environment.
The Monster has driven by for years saying, “gotta try that place.” A beautiful summer day and the call of their patio overlooking the Pacific is enough to finally act on it.
Back patio might be a bit of a misnomer. There are a few parking spots behind the building and then there’s a table or two for patrons. Not much in the way of décor but do you need it when the ocean is at your back?
Perusing the menu The Monster imagines it hasn’t changed for years. And in fact Bruno’s has been plying its trade for over twenty years, a testament to the food served and the people who work here.
The call is made for rigatoni in marinara sauce, chicken parmigiana with a side of spaghetti and a pizza with green peppers and onions. The menu is notable for the “Fine Wines” which apparently don’t need to be identified on the menu past Valpolicella (light, red) $18.50, Lambrusco (fruit, red) $16 or Chardonnay (rich, white) $18.50. Fine wine at these prices? Not a chance. The clientele doesn’t know and doesn’t care. There is one man inside who looks like he hasn’t left his booth since the restaurant opened. The Monster wants to go check and see if he’s breathing but occasionally he’ll lift his beer and take a sip.
The food comes out hot and fast and tastes exactly as you imagine. Which means a decent pizza to fill up on and pasta loaded with sweet sauce. The chicken parm won’t blow you away but it will be a very serviceable version. If you grew up on this type of Italian cooking you’ll probably find a warm place in your heart for Bruno’s. With a little cannoli for dessert it’s a calorie heavy lunch that The Monster will regret in an hour.
Know that this is a family restaurant and cash is preferred. There is a $30 minimum charge on credit or debit cards.
Bruno’s is cheap, it’s decent, The Monster is glad it’s still kicking after all these years.
Why go? You couldn’t get in to Capo.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
1652 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401