North Italia Debuts in Santa Monica
North Italia isn't a new restaurant. In fact, they have locations locally in El Segundo and in Irvine. However, I am a tad bit embarrassed to say that I had never had the opportunity to dine at one. So when I was invited to a media preview for the newest Santa Monica location, I jumped at the chance to see what it was all about. My good friend, Chef Jay, had previously spoke highly of his North Italia dining experience so I knew I had to give it a try.
We were one of the first to dine at the new restaurant. Located in prime real estate, right next to 3rd Street Promenade, North Italia is modern, hip, and very Instagram-worthy! I know you care about that last one! Their food is traditional Italian food with a modern-day twist. So what's on the menu?
I went during brunch and their cocktail menu was impressive. To be honest, I was mesmerized just staring at their bar. I love modern decor and the new furniture and ambiance of North Italia was every bit a Pinterest Board come to life! Cocktails sounded great, but what is a must-order drink when you are at a true Italian restaurant?
Italian Coffee!!! The iced coffee hit the spot! It was made with espresso, galliano ristretto, amaretto, and vanilla whipped cream! The perfect kick to get a morning going! I highly recommend this drink! This is my must-order drink at any Italian restaurant. Although, I have to say, that sangria looked amazing. That may be my drink for my next visit!
(Click the meatball photo above to see a gallery of dishes I ordered! )
At this point the food came rolling out. I started off with the Italian meatballs with marinara, pecorino, and grilled bread. I knew I had to try a pizza from North Italia so I decided on a 50/50. I did half "The Pig" aka spicy pepperoni, soppressata, italian sausage and half Funghi aka roasted mushroom, cipollini onion, smoked mozzarella, topped with a bit of white truffle sauce. The pizza was the perfect size. It has a crispy crust and is airy. The inside of the crust is a little chewy, but not overwhelming. I also ordered the house speciality Bolognese. The meat sauce is made in-house daily and complemented the fresh tagliatelle noodle & grana padano cheese perfectly. Every dish at North Italia is made from scratch daily, a detail you can truly taste with each bite.
The one dish that I wasn't that interested in ordering off the breakfast menu was the Baked French Toast. In my head, I was looking for more savory lunch dishes instead of breakfast/sweets. Our server Eric, however told me that there were only 4 French Toasts left and that I had to absolutely order one. I kind of gave him a look that he was crazy. I mean... French Toast is French Toast, right? WRONG! So, so wrong! Eric brought over an order because he was baffled at why I didn't seem more convinced. The Baked French Toast was heaven! It was no ordinary French Toast. This was more of a baked bread pudding disguised as a French Toast with vanilla maple syrup, berries, whipped cream. Oh my... go get yourself an order of this. You will be a convert! I was so wrong. Forgive me!
At this point, I was stuffed beyond belief, but I had to order some Italian Bombolini donuts with meyer lemon curd and vanillamascarpone. Eric also convinced me to try the famous Hazelnut Torta, which is basically a gigantic Nutella brownie, but made with nutella cream, hazelnut toffee, and salted caramel gelato. My sweet tooth was oh so satisfied!
North Italia uses seasonal ingredients so they constantly have new dishes rotating on the menu. Everything is made from scratch daily and you can taste the difference. There was a charcuterie board I was eyeing that I know I will order next time. The affogato also looked so tempting. Overall, the staff and the food were a treat. It was nice to talk a day-cation over to Santa Monica and spend some time walking around 3rd Street Promenade and checking out North Italia. There's a parking structure right across from the restaurant so it is very convenient. First 90 minutes are free!
North Italia is located at 1442 2nd Street, Santa Monica CA 90401 310-382-2460. You can visit them online here to make reservations or to check out their most current menu. This location is still in soft opening phase. It will be officially open to the public on May 30th so make sure to go on by and try the food. Two thumbs way up! Delicious!