Friday, May 23, 2008

Northern Italian in Southern California

Locanda del Lago is hidden in plain sight on Third Street Promenade, not exactly where you would expect to find a great Northern Italian restaurant. There is a sidewalk patio for nice days and a homey interior for any day you want appetizers like a plate of Bresaola, coppa, and proscuitto, followed by a freshly grilled whole striped bass, or maybe home made spinach talgliolini with portobello mushrooms and blue water prawns. They don't pander to the tourists with bland or bottled flavors, instead they cook as if they are in the Lake district of Northern Italy and bring the flavors of the lake to the Santa Monica shoreline.

Il Moro is located behind a business building that hides a nice garden patio with a stream and fountain shielding busy Olympic Street traffic from diners' ears. It is a romantic spot at night with tiny lights in the bushes, but even in the daytime, it is a secret getaway spot hidden behind an office complex at a busy intersection. Along with the standard Italian meat, fish and pasta dishes, Il Moro has Roman dishes on their menu which include risotto with wild boar sausage and home made corn pasta with wild hare. A nice Italian touch is their gastro bar which stays open all day for coffee and drinks, while offering bites from their menu.

Both Locando del Lago and Il Moro offer happy hours from 4-7pm which feature their food either at reduced prices or as free tastes along with drink specials. The best way to travel can be by sampling la dolce vita (the sweet life) by taking the time to drink and eat leisurely, while enjoying conversation with friends and strangers at one of the Northern Italian places in Southern California.

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