30 Jul Panoramic Views, Great Energy and Good Food and Wine at Elephante in Santa Monica
It is summer. And nothing says summer in California more than the beach. So, there is nothing more perfect than sitting on a deck, looking out at the Pacific Ocean while enjoying food and drink. And that is why I have found myself dining at Elephante in Santa Monica almost every week this month.
Elephante has been open for a year and yet it took me that long to experience. I had heard about it but did not know where it was. Even the first time I went, I passed by a few times before figuring out where it was. Located on Second Street, just north of Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica, Elephante is located on the rooftop of the Laemmle theater. Next to the theater, there is a door with a stand in front where you are checked in for your reservation (of if you are heading up to the bar for drinks) and then you are sent down the hallway to an elevator.
The elevator takes you to the 3rd floor and the rear door opens. You walk out and are greeted by the host stand where they welcome you by name. (It is very well done that the front door passes the names to the host stand before you get there.)
Every time I go to Elephante, no matter the day of the week, it is packed. And it is easy to understand why. The bohemian vibe is casual and comfortable while also energetic. It feels like you are in someone’s super cool home and just want to sit down in one of the low, comfortable chairs and look out at the view. The first section of the restaurant, just off the elevator, is a quieter space to enjoy a meal with friends.
But head through the first section, through the open glass wall, and you will find a large rectangular bar in the center of the room and the open kitchen, with the wood fire oven, on the left.
And straight through is the deck offering a panoramic view of the ocean.
Elephante is beautiful and open with fantastic ocean views. The vibe is chill and the energy is palpable. And the Italian-inspired menu is also really tasty. In fact, on a few of the occasions, I went with Italian friends visiting LA and they all loved Elephante. They loved the fresh sourdough bread and pizza made from a 13 year-old mother dough and baked in the wood-fire oven, as well as everything else on the menu. I, too, have enjoyed everything I have ordered from the menu. And I know that there is enough selection for anyone to find what they will like.
Whipped Eggplant with puccia and olive oil – So whipped and delicious, you will never know this is eggplant. It is served with a fresh pocket of bread, hot out of the oven.
Marinated Castelvetrano Olives with sumac, fennel pollen and marcona almonds
Big Eye Tuna Tartare with Calabrian aioli, tangerine and carta di musica
Brussels Sprouts with white balsamic, lemon, Pecorino and pine nuts
Prosciutto and Melon
Gulf Shrimp with salsa rosa
Grilled Octopus with hearts of palm, red onion, olives, capers and tangerine
Manila Clams with pancetta, orange wine, charred scallion and toast
Fried Calamari with balsamic aioli
Meatballs made from pork and beef with spicy tomato sauce and Parmigiano
Gemelli with Dungeness crab, tomato butter, garlic, chili and squid ink
Fusilli Pesto with arugula, pistachio, Parmigiano and pistachio breadcrumbs
Margherita with housemade mozzarella and tomato
Soppressata with cured pork, crushed tomato, mozzarella, chili oil and honey
Veal Chop Milanese with wild arugula and spicy salsa verde
Broccolini with cashew pesto, crispy shallot and chili oil
And to wash down all the tasty food, Elephante has an Italian-inspired cocktail list and a comprehensive wine list that focuses on wines from Italy and the United States, as well as France, Germany and Australia. Wine Director Diane Pandolfini has compiled an interesting wine list and the wines by the glass list is approachable. The wines are intended to pair with the food and they do.
If you just can’t tear yourself away from the views, be sure to extend your meal with dessert. From fresh sorberto to affogato to truly delicious tiramisu, you can subtly satisfy your sweet tooth.