CUISINE OF NORTHERN ITALY'S LAKE COMO
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When Lago opened in April 1991, the upscale Italian
restaurant quickly established a reputation as having perhaps the only
menu in Los Angeles to focus on the cuisine of Bellagio on Lake Como in
Northern Italy. Today, celebrating its 20th
anniversary, Lago maintains that unique identity and attracts an
eclectic crowd of foodies, celebrities, locals and travelers.
With its warm, inviting interior, expansive windows and a sidewalk
patio overlooking Santa Monica's colorful Third Street Promenade, the
restaurant is consistently lauded for imaginative Italian cuisine
spotlighting seasonal flavors and the freshest local ingredients.
Co-owner West Hooker, who was born in Milan and has lived and worked in
Bellagio, presides over the popular restaurant with General Manager
Megan Sheehy, who has been with Lago since 1996.
Plaudits from the press include this comment from one critic:
"Lago is a warm and welcome respite. As
exotic as it is delicious, the food is among the city's very best."
Another described Lago as "Casually classy... the
authenticity of the place is clearly one of its assets."
The Los Angeles Times insists that the Antipasto Bar
"… is one of our favorites," and the Hollywood
Reporter refers to Lago as a "chic, authentic Italian
bistro." Metromix raves, "With
the warmth of an old Italian inn and the cool factor of a Santa Monica
hot spot, you'll never even know you're on the Third Street
Promenade. Lago has a loyal base of regulars because the
customers are treated like kings, and the bustling restaurant is run
with astounding ease." Frommer's promises, "There’s
no better place to people-watch than at the outdoor patio,"
Magazine advised, "Italy meets the Pacific -- authentic cuisine of
Milano, Como and Stresa served up in the most California of
settings. Don't miss the Ossobuco alla Milanese."
Lago is dedicated to providing the ultimate dining
experience with exceptional selections coupled with meticulous,
friendly service. Chef Maggioni offers the most
flavorful ingredients available in conjunction with traditional and
innovative recipes, and menus feature produce and other foods
from the Santa Monica Farmers' Market (right outside Lago's front
Wednesday and Saturday, Chef Maggioni seeks the freshest, organic, most
flavorsome selections available from Windsor Farms, Harry's Berries,
Weiser Farms, Garcia Farms, Coleman Farms, JJ Loned Daughter Ranch, and
Lilly's Eggs, while Scarborough Farms delivers fresh organic goods on
non-market days. All pastas, focaccia bread, desserts and
are made fresh daily at the restaurant. The wine
nearly 400 selections from Italy and California including verticals,
half bottles and large format bottles,
has received an "Award of Excellence" from Wine Spectator magazine
every year since 1995, and Luigi
Veronelli's The Best Italian Restaurants applauded its "vast and
"Our menus are rooted in the authentic, quality cuisine of
Lombardy and evolve from it to create a balanced selection of
dishes that take full advantage of the best flavors of the
the best specialties of Lake Como and the availability in Los Angeles
of spices, fruits and vegetables not grown in Italy," says Hooker.
The menu also includes special soups, distinctive salad and antipasti
selections, both classic and unusual pasta and risotto dishes, designer
pizzas, exceptional meat, fowl and fish selections, and tempting
desserts including Lago's signature tiramisú.
Lago's comfortable, warm atmosphere evokes the charm of an Italian
locanda (inn or trattoria) del lago (of the lake). Its
sidewalk patio fronts the restaurant’s exterior, providing a
lively view of the passing Promenade scene. An
always-changing array of menu choices is offered, including an Antipasto
Bar at lunch with 12 rotating items. A "Tasting
Menu" varies weekly with choices based upon the availability of the
best seasonal ingredients. Guests
at Lago enjoy a true "Lake Como experience" featuring dishes,
particularly on the dinner menu, not often found at Italian restaurants
in this country.
A broad menu of after-dinner drinks is available, including
authentic Italian GROLLA,
made of espresso, grappa, brandy, sambuca, lemon peel and
After being flamed tableside, this concoction is shared by friends from
a hand-carved wooden bowl imported from Italy with one drinking spout
for each person. According to Italian custom, as the
“friendship cup” is passed from person to person,
relationship it touches grows stronger.
Lago's distinctive Artisanal Cocktail Menu makes
use of freshly
squeezed and just-picked ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmers'
Market and top-shelf organic liquors. These marvelously tasty
mixed drinks include Lago's famous MOJITO (Mint, Lime, Papagayo Rum and
Sugar Cane) and MARKET MARGARITA (Oro Blanco Grapefruit, Tangelo, Lime,
4 Copas Tequila) as well as an array of martini-style choices including
Lago's signature Caprese (Cherry Tomato, Basil, Crop Tomato Vodka,
Happy hour prices for beverages and food are
throughout the restaurant and bar from 4 to 7 pm Monday thru Friday; in
the bar only from 4 to 7 pm Saturdays and Sundays; and Tuesday extended
all evening until closing in the bar only.
The charm of Lago's ambiance complements its
cuisine and spirits. Shades of amber, burgundy, saffron and
contrast with vivid white tablecloths, and the walls are decorated with
brightly colored china, paintings and artifacts depicting scenes of
Bellagio. The dining area is surrounded almost completely by tall
windows and is always beautifully lit, daytime or evening.
Lago's services are available for
inside the restaurant or off-premises catering.
The restaurant is open daily for lunch, Saturday/Sunday brunch, and
Lago's services are available for private parties inside the
restaurant or off-premises catering. The restaurant is open daily
for lunch, Sunday brunch and dinner.
Valet parking is provided from 6 p.m. nightly; ample Santa Monica city
structure parking is available at all times. Reservations are
suggested. All major credit cards are accepted. Lago opens
daily at 11:30 AM (10:30 AM Sundays) and is located at 231 Arizona
Avenue on the Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica. For
reservations, call (310) 451-3525. www.LagoSantaMonica.com
to see more photos from our "Taste of Santa Monica" booth!
Locanda del Lago
Street Promenade at
Monica, CA 90401
click on map to enlarge
Locanda del Lago is
located in Santa Monica,
California, on the northwest corner of Arizona Avenue and the Third
Promenade, two blocks east of Ocean Avenue, one block south of Wilshire
Blvd., four blocks west of Lincoln Blvd. and one block north of Santa
the Santa Monica (10) Freeway
at 4th Street, turn right onto Lincoln, turn left at Arizona.
parking is available for dinner seven
days a week. Convenient parking in Santa Monica city parking
is available at all times. Structure entrances are located on
Street and Fourth Street south of Wilshire Blvd.
to get directions from MapQuest!
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