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My husband loves Italian food so much that even though suffering from the flu, he managed to drag himself out of bed for this one. We managed to score a table on the heated patio, I think because there was a private function going on. Service was excellent and timed very well so you don't feel rushed nor do you feel like you are waiting forever for your meal. We did find the tables a little crowded, though, but at least it wasn't noisy. We found the staff very gracious and accomodating, even though we walked in off the street with no reservations.
They are famous for their Jazz Sunday Brunch, which we didn't get a chance to try, but the menu is on their website, and it looks fabulous.
Favorite Dish: Even though everyone raves about their seafood, I would probably recommend their pasta over the seafood as it's just that darn good. We started off with a basket of assorted breads and grissini (my fave bread was the onion) and it came with a dish of garlic-olive paste. I don't care for olives that much, but the spread was delicious.
We started off with the grilled calimari -- my only complaint for the evening -- a whopping $9.00 for six 1 1/2 inch calamari fanned out on a plate. However, it was melt-in-your mouth tender, and came hot and crisp from the grill, topped with limoncello and olive oil. My husband had the lasagne - several thin layers of meat sauce and saffron cream, and it was heavenly. I had the king salmon dish that came with a salad of grapefruit, orange, and onion. My only regret is that after eating the strong calamari and olive spread flavors, the delicate flavor of the salmon got lost. However, it was prefectly prepared. We both shared a caesar salad, and it was excellent -- a light, creamy dressing with lots of parmesan.
I Cuigini: I Cuigini
They have both indoor and outdoor seating, but I would highly recommend the outdoor seating as you get a pretty decent view of the beach and palm trees...as well as all the people walking around. Great location for people watching! About US$20+/person for dinner.
Favorite Dish: If you like Tuscan-style Italian, you will like everything here.
I Cuigini: Tuscan fare
A real buzzy restaurant right on the Ocean Boulevard. We started with drinks at the bar...first apple martini of the holidays..very good! The restaurant is huge with quite a large terraced seating area but we chose to sit inside. Friendly staff answering our questions on the food made us feel at home straight away. With a big open kitchen, you could watch the chefs prepare the dishes as you waited with your glass of wine selected from a pretty good wine menu. We were served a basket of assorted breads warm from the oven, some with olives, some with sundried tomatoes, chiapatas and other fine Italian breadsticks. The food was delicious although a little expensive for an Italian meal. The thing I liked most about these restaurants was the valet parking...leave your car at the door and then its brought back just when you want for approx.$5
Favorite Dish: The crab salad and the risottos were excellent. Lamb chops, huge but juicy and tender and an amazing fish soup that had everything in it and a bib to wear whilst eating it!
I Cuigini: Italian/seafood
On our first night in LA I wanted to take dad and grandma to a nice meal so we headed to I Cugini in Santa Monica.
I liked the interior decor but the open space made it so that it was not at all conversation friendly. And we were there on a Wednesday night when it was not busy, imagine what the noise level is like on the weekends!
The service was friendly and prompt. Valet parking is available for $5.
Favorite Dish: We started off with Fritto Misto for an appetizer, for $9.95, it consisted of two medium shrimp, 6 or 7 calamari rings and a couple of smelt, hardly the hearty portions I'm used to from Chicago restaurants and really nothing special.
The waitress recommended the breaded calamari steak in a lemon caper butter sauce, it had a nice flavor and it was pounded thin so it was tender, not chewy. The portion was fine for dinner but a little overpriced at $19.
My grandma tried the lasagna, once again the portion size was fine but way overpriced at $22. Later in the week, she crinkled her nose at me and said "who puts fish in lasagna"? I guess at 96 you've earned the right to say exactly what's on your mind LOL
All in all I was satisfied with the food, even if Grandma wasn't, but didn't think it was a very good value. Other reviews I read (and one VTer who's restaurant reviews are usually spot on suggested this place to me) raved about this place, especially for the fish dishes so maybe if you can get past the prices you might enjoy eating here.
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