If you follow me, you know I like North Italia restaurant (specifically in El Segundo until now!) While this is a chain of restaurants, each one despite similar furnishings and menu, each feels unique in its’ own way.
To give you an idea of what the restaurant is like, here is a photo from the El Segundo location, to give you the feeling of the place.
The interior is very comfortable and relaxed: it can handle larger groups as easily as it can tables for 1 or 2 people.
There is a new location that has just opened up in Santa Monica. I was invited to bring a guest and have dinner during the “soft opening” to test drive the operations and space. Mary Hall of the The Recessionista blog was the perfect person to invite since we often visit the El Segundo restaurant together.
Disclosure: We were invited to dinner at no charge to us so that we could provide feedback on service, food and the location. The only way one can talk about a restaurant and it’s food, service and location is to try it. We did complete the review on location as well as I am doing it here.
The event offered us the opportunity to schedule up our dinner reservation which was 6 PM on Friday, 5/27! Surprisingly, we had almost no traffic issues on the drive up. (Shocking, yes!) We even found parking pretty easily too in a parking structure. It was a lovely evening to walk over to the restaurant which was about 2 blocks away at most.
We were greeted warmly when we checked in and seated promptly. There were many tables occupied already with all ages of people including families with small children and others who brought friends.
We perused the menus on what to order to sip with dinner:
The wine menu is longer and that’s where you would find Mary’s Sangiovese wine- a luscious rose’ wine that we both discovered about 3.5 weeks ago (pre-Mother’s Day) while visiting North Italia El Segundo.
The glass behind the water bottle!
I wound up with a fruity Sangria– it was very tasty:
We were given a menu and we had lots of options to choose from. We were to split either an appetizer or a salad and also to share a dessert. We got to choose our individual entrees. Lots to choose from and we found interesting things to order including splitting a Tuscan Kale salad which was split between on individual plates. That was nice because it was quite a larger salad otherwise:
This was half the salad!
Mary’s dinner was Rosemary Chicken with roasted seasonal vegetable, and lemon pan sauce. The plate looked- and smelled- so good!
Mine was Red Wine Glazed Short Rib with heirloom carrot, swiss chard and creamy marscarpone polenta. It was divine.
The dinner was filled with servers – and management– checking in on us to see if we were having a good time. (Honestly, we had a great time!)
By the time the servers removed our dinner plates (We requested the balance of the dinner to be boxed for us to take home), they suggested dessert for us to split. We were so full but could not resist trying something from their lovely dessert menu (You can see it here). The selection was Salted Caramel Budino which is sort of like a mousse meets light custard topped with sea salt.
I decided on my end – since I was driving- I needed a cup of coffee.
North Italia doesn’t slouch when it comes to great-tasting coffee and they provide a decent-sized cup too.
The Budino was incredible. I have had chocolate budino desserts before, but this was a level up on that experience. Wow, talk about amazing flavor with a sea salt topping and the light as air texture made it hard to resist- until we realized we were full and could not eat another bite.
When we indicated we were done, the review was presented for us to fill out- and I did it in concert with Mary so that they got both our opinions. We did indicate that the space could use some noise-dampening because the room was full and it was very noisey. There was music playing but the only thing we could hear was the thump of the drums- and often we couldn’t even hear that. Also we noticed that our request for taking the balance of our entrees with us was forgotten and we never saw our server again to ask about it. I did include both comments on the review as well as on this review. We did tip the server pretty generously and it was clear he was very appreciative.
Thank you to Kathy Kwon for facilitating this dinner visit to the new North Italia in Santa Monica. We definitely want to go back once it is full open (tomorrow 5/30!). Thank you to the staff particularly the regional managers – both named Kelly! Our appreciation to Sam Fox, CEO of the company for stopping by to talk to us. Thanks to Mary Hall for coming with me to this fun event!
We had a great experience dining at North Italia Santa Monica. You will too. Do visit there soon! You won’t be sorry!
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