The Monster has long been a fan of the Venice beach-side Italian Piccolo. And he’s made his way a few times to its sister restaurant Hostaria del Piccolo, a more casual version in downtown Santa Monica.
It’s a nice looking, casual room of dark woods with windows letting in light from 6th and Broadway. With an open kitchen you can watch the chefs at work. There is also a back patio for fine Southern California days and nights.
The music selection kind of sucks during this lunch. “Closing Time.” Really? Because that song blows. That an old man with excessive ear hair is bopping his head appreciatively only confirms this. Listen ear hair man, when a forest is growing out of your ears that threatens to consume your face perhaps it’s time to invest in scissors. Seriously, how can you even hear?
The menu is heavy on antipasti, pizza both with sauce and white sans sauce, pasta and main courses. Like its big brother Piccolo, the ingredients and pairings prove interesting and the menu features many dishes not littering every Italian menu the city-round.
Cauliflower puree soup with baby shrimp is the first call. The soup is a miss. Watery and with a weird, almost acrid aftertaste. It is short on shrimp as well but that’s okay since they do little to add to the overall flavor of the dish which is not tremendously good.
Grilled octopus over roasted seasonal vegetables comes next and the tentacly one fares better. It’s a nice sized portion and it’s well paired with vegetables. The only complaint might be the excessive use of oil which drenches the bottom of the plate.
Some U2 comes on, “Where The Streets Have No Name,” and ear hair man bobs his head along. The Monster may have been incorrect, perhaps he didn’t like “Closing Time,” instead the ear monster has rendered him completely deaf.
Pappardelle, spinach pasta, “white” duck ragu, parmesan is the first entrée. The pasta is fine. However it doesn’t hold a candle to the duck ragu at Angelini. That was a revelation. This is a good spinach pasta with a duck ragout that is more meaty than flavorful.
Parmigiana pizza with tomato sauce, breaded eggplant, basil, parmesan is the last call. The pizza fares the best of the lot. Nice crust, delicious eggplant and it comes with a bottle dropper containing an olive oil infused with peperoncino. It’s a great touch and adds a nice kick to the pie.
The staff is accommodating and on this day there isn’t much of a crowd so service is fast and food comes out quickly.
All in all it’s a decent, if not a bit overpriced Italian that is good for casual lunches or impromptu dinners.
Why go? You own scissors.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
Santa Monica, CA 90401