Casual Italian - Santa Monica

Any good recs for Italian in Santa Monica? My mom is in town visiting and feels like pasta and we are heading out that way. I have a couple kids aged 9 and 6. They are well behaved but looking for a casual room with great chow. Thanks!



It was a little off when I was there last week, but I’ve had good meals at Forma.

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Not sure id consider Forma casual, but nor would I consider it fancy. I’ll cast my vote for Forma as well.

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Milo and olive


Had another great meal at Milo & Olive last night. My only hesitation about recommending it for a dinner with kids is they don’t take reservations and the wait for a table can be long (for a party of two at 7pm last night we were quoted 30 minutes and actually waited 45). But maybe that won’t be an issue if OP goes early.

Also it’s not on anyone’s Best Of list, but I really like La Vecchia on Main Street in Santa Monica, especially when I have family members in tow. And they take reservations.



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My favorite Los Angeles pizzas in order are:

  1. Roberta’s Pop-up
  2. Mozza
  3. Lodge
  4. Sotto

Based on this, do you think I would like Pizzana, and what is your favorite pizza there?

I’ve definitely seen kids at Uovo, but, if OP is going on a Friday or Saturday night, I’d probably avoid b/c of the very long wait and pretty small, very crowded space.

If Cal Italian is acceptable, North Italia is totally respectable and pretty comfortable. Not sure if they accept reservations (and they can also be very busy).

Agree that Milo and Olive is a good choice, esp if the OP goes at off-peak times.

I’ve passed by this place quite a few times and have wondered if it’s any good. I might try it now… :slight_smile:

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Uovo is good. If you’re there, and enjoy a good Cesare salad, try PIzzana’s (which has fried capers!)

I enjoyed the pizzas at pizzana, but the OP is looking for pasta and won’t find any there.

Too late now, unless you go out for Italian tonight - but I love Osteria Bigoli on Montana Ave.

Also love Orto Santa Monica - both restaurants are neighborhood gems. Not loud, casual, and welcoming.

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You should try it. I don’t want oversell. It’s not Felix, or Bestia, or Sotto (I haven’t been to Pasta Sisters) … But it is a good neighborhood Italian spot especially if you’re dining with friends or relatives who don’t take kindly to $25 small plates of pasta. And it has a full bar. And good bread.


The eternal quest, a good neighborhood spot for your more normal friends and family. A full bar always helps, even if you’re the only one drinking.


Yes you understand completely. 26 Beach also falls into that category for me on this side of town.

I just looked at the La Vecchia menu and I think the prices have crept up - the seafood pastas are into the $20s - but portions are entree-sized. Pizzas are decent too.

Btw, @DrinkSmokeGolf, what did you decide on?

No worries about that; I think you made it clear in your post that it’s a good neighborhood place, not God’s gift to pasta. Sounds like it might be a Pizzicotto-type restaurant. And I def think those place serve a purpose. I love Pasta Sisters, but sometimes I want a place that’s not quite (nealry) as casual and has table service… A decent date-night place that doesn’t break the bank. Low $20’s for seafood pasta that’s a good-sized portion doesn’t sound at all unreasonable to me.

It turns out we didn’t make it to Santa Monica. Traffic was too hairy.
We ended up at Sor Tino in Brentwood which ended up being excellent. My mom got her pasta and enjoyed it thoroughly. I had the rack of lamb and thought it was very good. Washed it all down with an excellent Amarone. Nice patio out front too.

Thanks for all the suggestions though everyone. I’m going to check them out over time.


Good to know. I just moved to Brentwood on Friday so have been looking for recommendations!

@yogachik - got any more intel (dishes you like etc) on Orto? Never been. Looks good.

@CiaoBob, I’ve tried many of the dishes at Orto, and every one has been sublime. I’ve even tried the gluten free pesto pasta, and it was a burst of flavor, nothing overtaking the other. When I take others there, they gush over every bite. Give it a try. Full bar, fantastic service.

To @WesSabi put Palmieri on your list, it’s great.

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