Via Veneto Santa Monica Review - Dishing Star-Caliber Italian Cuisine

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Via Veneto in Santa Monica, an authentic European-style, locavore-minded, Italian dining experience, and is as well-known as the A-List clientele, including David and Victoria Beckham, Madonna, Sean Penn, Eva Longoria and Harrison Ford, that frequent the distinctive award-winning eatery.

Via Veneto, founded by Duran Duran’s Warren Cuccurullo, who is actually one of the restaurant’s investors, has made a name for itself not only in Santa Monica but Los Angeles at large. Renowned for its enticing menu complimented by a remarkable wine selection and uber-cozy ambiance, the restaurant has become a staple in the community for discerning locals and tourists, alike.

While serving up Italian standards like ravioli, gnocchi, spaghetti and fettuccine, the restaurant has mastered the art of elevating common Italian fare to a level that reflects superior culinary skill, creativity and artistry.

The success of Via Veneto is due, in large part, to the dedication and expertise of its owner, Fabrizio Bianconi. He migrated to the United States from Rome and, after working his way through some of the finest restaurants in both Italy and California, he opened this eatery to aptly express his passion for the Italian fare he grew up with.

His vision came to life within a classic structure on Santa Monica’s Main Street. Fabrizio quickly became enamored with the inherent character of the building’s lofty ceilings and stone floors. This fitting venue, combined with Fabrizio's strong ethnic roots and elevated European-style menu, have made Via Veneto a go-to for those seeking a truly memorable Italian dining experience.

Via Veneto’s menu, itself, is brought to life by two of Los Angeles’ top chefs. For his part, Chef Ruben Vasquez (aka Lo Cheffone) brings to bear a rich culinary history. With more than 30 years of experience in some of Los Angeles’ finest restaurants, a thorough knowledge of Italian cuisine and decidedly-apparent attention to detail, his level of craftsmanship is duly complimented by his kitchen counterpart: Oscar.

Affectionately known as the “Pasta King,” Oscar is the genius behind Via Veneto’s pasta dishes. The chef’s expertise is reflected in the menu’s authentic gnocchi, perfectly executed spaghetti and fettuccine entrées, and superb ravioli. The ability of the two chefs to ensure Via Veneto’s menu is consistently executed in extraordinary form has kept restaurant patrons—both the famous and the famished—coming back again and again.

Recipe for Success
Creating their trademark fine dining dishes begins with uncompromised, artisan-level ingredients, each personally sourced by Chef Ruben, and Via Veneto makes use of some of the finest that the local region—and Italy—has to offer. For example, their meat products like beef, lamb and veal are held to an exceptionally high standard.

Sourced from nearby sustainable ranches, the animals are solely fed a vegetarian diet and are never given antibiotics or growth hormones. This extra level of care ensures these proteins are top caliber.

As well, many of the restaurant’s most notable dishes utilize distinctive and even highly coveted ingredients such as white truffles. Due to the delicacy’s very particular growth requirements regarding climate and soil, this fungi is known to exist in only certain locations during certain times of the year, making them incredibly rare and highly sought after.

During the three months (October through December) that these exceptional culinary treats are available, Via Veneto imports them straight from Alba, Italy and integrates them into an inventive seasonal menu like none other.

During my own visit in May, black truffle was the featured menu item and the ingredient was exquisitely utilized in numerous dishes, including the Filet Mignon Carpaccio I ordered. The prime carpaccio, sliced impossibly thin, featured a generous layer of rich, thick and creamy Taleggio cheese fondue that boasted an explosive shaved black truffle punch.

While in my estimation the portion of fondue was a little heavy handed relative to the extraordinarily delicate meat it covered, I thoroughly enjoyed the overarching flavor profile of the dish that was otherwise well-executed.

While the carpaccio was a pretty hard act to follow, I also reveled in the Ravioli Trio appetizer—a tantalizing flight consisting of handmade pasta pairs stuffed with sweet lobster and a bright organic tomato sauce; fresh asparagus (inside and atop) with a delicate white sauce; and, my favorite of the lot, pumpkin with butter and sage that was just the right balance of sweet and savory.

Ever the appetizer aficionado I pressed on to sample a few other starters, including the Polipo Alla Griglia. This fresh grilled octopus salad with red and yellow tomatoes, sliced fingerling potatoes and caramelized onions included two octopus tentacles that were perhaps the most tender and succulent I’ve ever had. I also appreciated the grilling technique whereby the amount of bitter char was minimal as compared to the unfortunate industry norm.

For its part, the Crostini with Prosciutto and Wild Mushrooms duo could have been a meal unto itself. The fork-and-knife dish consists of two tantalizing types of large-form crostini: one topped with melted mozzarella and a generous layer of prosciutto, and another with melted mozzarella and a heap of meaty porcini mushrooms.

So wonderful was the porcini juxtaposed with cured meat that, for my entrée, I ordered the Scaloppini di Vitello Al Porcini—three veal scaloppini cuts generously topped with a decidedly salty pancetta, all blanketed with a glistening porcini mushroom sauce that added a velvety quality to the dish. Another in my party ordered the enormous Tomahawk Ribeye to share.

This behemoth Tuscan style, dry-aged bone-in ribeye from a grass-fed, GMO free source drew much mouthwatering attention as it commanded its way through the dining room. This super thick, simply seasoned "cowboy cut" steak, with its gorgeous sear locking in profuse juices dutifully permeating the supple meat, was carved tableside to the delight of all.

As a lighter-side end to such a magnificent, albeit heavy, meal, I opted for the Panna Cotta on the recommendation of the server. The mild mannered vanilla flan was served with cross sections of two complimentary sauces: red berry and chocolate with Nutella. Fresh raspberries and blackberries, a sprig of mint and a crispy Italian cookie as an apt foil to the creamy base rounded out this lovely dessert.

When you are in the Los Angeles area and have a yearning for exceptionally high quality Italian fare—and can appreciate a moody, candlelight-laden atmosphere exuding a chic rustic elegance—proceed directly to Via Veneto.

Whether you opt to sit in the charming upstairs private loft area where you can have a romantic Italian dinner for two or a party of twelve, or situate yourself under the glow of the chandelier in the cozy main dining room with other Via Veneto guests, prepare yourself to be impressed with the dining experience on the whole. No matter who you are, here you’re sure to eat like a Hollywood A-lister.

Images courtesy of The Luxe List and Via Veneto and used with permission.

"The Luxe List" Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions can be seen at Follow her on Twitter here: and Facebook here:

***Some or all of the accommodations, experiences, items and/or services detailed are provided at no cost to accommodate reviews, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Republished by permission of and provided to by author.


Haute Tease

  • Istanbul Airport Twin Blasts: 41 Dead; 239 Injured

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Twin bomb blasts denoted at Istanbul Turkey’s Ataturk International airport after three suicide terrorists began firing shots into the crowded terminal killing 41 and injuring hundreds as the Islamic state terrorist organization has claimed responsibility.

  • The Race Race, Slugfest and Other Unmentionables - The Road to the White House - Election 2012 - Week 28

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Race gauntlet was officially thrown down as the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, set the tone as they booed Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, during his recent speech in Houston.

  • Paris Fashion Week Coverage: Ewa Minge Fall/Winter 2017/18 Couture Collection – Fairy Tales

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Inspired by the ancient gypsy fables that transport all into an enchanted, joyful, dancing world, Ewa Minge, Poland’s most celebrated and well known designer, recently showed her Fall/Winter 2017/18 collection during the Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris, France.

  • Academy to Celebrate Oscar Night New York At Daniel Boulud's Iconic Restaurant Daniel

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    NEW YORK, NY – For the second consecutive year, Chef Daniel Boulud's iconic, landmark restaurant DANIEL will roll out the red carpet for local members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, entertainment industry executives and several hometown luminaries to celebrate the 86th Oscars® with an exclusive viewing party and dinner.  This is the only East Coast event officially hosted by the Academy. 

  • January Filled with Delicious Decadence from The Sea to the Interior as 2017 Winter dineL.A. Restaurant Week begins

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Southern California cuisine has two distinct personalities: fish tacos and craft beer on one side, celebrity chefs and haute cuisine on the other. California Restaurant Month embraces both from farm and sea to table and exotic fusion Californians love.

  • Buddha Wild: Monk In A Hut Review – Beautiful, Reverent, an Award Winning Documentary

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "Buddha Wild: Monk In A Hut" is the first documentary effort for cinematic narrative director, Anna Wilding, and is a discovery into the life and lifestyles of the contemporary Buddhist Monk in Thailand.

  • Festival De Cannes Announces 2018 Dates; Hosts Six Memorable 2017 Features for Festival de Cannes Week in Buenos Aires

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The 71st Festival de Cannes will take place from Tuesday, 8th May to Saturday, 19th May 2018. It will start one day earlier than in previous years, but will run for exactly the same length of time.