Thursday, August 13, 2009

Love/Hate Relationship

Though our first experience at the famous Italian restaurant Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica was not a pleasant one, due to the rude staff, the food is some of the best Italian in LA. That said, it is generally difficult to bring yourself back once you receive terrible service at any restaurant no matter how good. This was not an isolated incident (we have been back a few times) and we've heard some horror stories with patrons who complained from their experiences there as well. So, here are some words of wisdom. In general, the staff operates with the view that the patron is lucky to be at the restaurant, which can cause some issues for those who put a lot of weight on service. If you can't deal with this (like ourselves) or don't want to take the chance, try to avoid this place. However, if you can tolerate it, the food is worth the trip...just don't complain. In fact, you might even have a pleasant meal if you silently eat your food and politely thank the chef for each dish.

The restaurant is always full with tables, packed like sardines in a can but that doesn't seem to stop the celebrities from showing up. We've seen everyone from Gordon Ramsey dining with the Beckham's (who surprisingly had to stand for 30 minutes to wait for a table) to Mark Wahlberg and Chris Robinson. Needless to say, it's quite the scene.

Our meal the other night was a much more enjoyable experience. Great service and the food as always was incredible. My favorite is the Sweet Corn Agnolotti made with white truffle butter (seriously out of this world if you like truffles). We have found that the pasta truly differentiates itself from other restaurants in its delicacy. It's light, almost fragile, and absolutely melts in your mouth. While the sauces can be rich, this will change the way you think about pasta. My husband's favorite pasta (my second fave) is the Lobster Ravioli in a light marzano tomato sauce. We usually do these as appetizers (they are not intended as main courses and are proportioned as such) though we find ourselves literally licking the plate.

For the entrees, we used to order the veal scallopini with a porcini mushroom sauce which they for some reason took off the menu. However, if you ask for it, they will make it for you (hopefully without any issues). It's a great dis, but it's not the veal that makes it, but the sauce. The restaurant uses marzano tomatoes, porcini & shitake mushrooms, olive oil, onions, parsley and fresh garlic..truly a stand out. This time around I went with the fish special - Branzino (see attached pic). It was pan-seared in olive oil topped with mushrooms and baby artichokes. Was good but nothing great...a bit oily in fact. Once I added A LOT of salt and lemon it really helped.

Overall, we would give the pastas an A+ but with the exception of the veal scallopini, the main courses often fall short. Also, be aware, the menu is priced to break the bank.

We opted to pass on dessert and head back home for some of our dad's home-made strawberry shortcake...everything was created from scratch & actually quite easy to make (ask and we will provide the recipe). It was heavenly!

Giorgio Baldi
114 W. Channel Rd.
Santa Monica 90402

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