On the corner of Broadway and 6th Street in Santa Monica, California sits a thriving Italian eatery known as Hostaria Del Piccolo. This trendy locale with indoor and outdoor seating offers some of the most flavorsome Italian treats locally. We stopped in one afternoon with friends to see exactly what this establishment had to offer.
The restaurant’s "Ore Felici " menu features culinary treats at Happy Hour pricing. Though a smaller lounge area than most would expect, if you get in early, there should be a seat somewhere in the cozy and friendly bar area to take advantage of the terrific specials on the reduced price menu available daily from 5 PM until 9 PM. We arrived in time, and selected two stools at the bar ready to be impressed.
Upon recommendation from our bartender, we agreed to try the Blackwork Orange and Primavera cocktails. When discussing creative libations, try plopping down on a wooden stool at this bar and watching the mixologists on duty dazzle you with their skills and intriguing displays of liqueurous magic before your very eyes. We loved the Blackwork Orange cocktail, which was crafted with 100% Agave tequila, fresh lime, tangerine juice, agave nectar, and a black sea salt rim that virtually melted into our glass right in front of us. The second chilling refresher we enjoyed was the Primavera, a spruced up Champagne cocktail made with vodka, rose’, fresh lemon, maraschino liqueur, prosecco and a plump Amarena cherry. Both enjoyable, and both worth having again on a future visit. I never thought a cocktail could be called “entertaining”. But this trip proved differently.
The pizzas offered during the eatery’s Happy Hour are in fact full size. Yes, it does exist at Hostaria Del Piccolo! We were pleased with the portion size for the reduced cost, and appreciated the interesting choices of toppings. We shared the Verdura Le Pizzet, which was made up of marinated artichokes, sweet peppers, slices of eggplant and of course, a delightful mozzarella cheese that glued it all together. The flavors combination was satisfactory, the dough beneath all of this goodness was slightly chewy, but also crunchy around the edges offering the best of both worlds, and all around, it was a well-executed item that was not just tasty, but healthy as well.
Once our table opened up, our party was seated across from the kitchen complete with a wood-fired pizza oven. A stainless steel shelf lined with cookbooks bearing the restaurant’s name overhead outlined our view of the busy activity in this culinary abode. Menus were presented, and I took note of a small eyedropper-style jar filled with chili oil on our table. Hmmm…that was different. I especially liked the blue glass candle holder that held a lit candle during our meal.
As conversation with the members of our party progressed, the Piovra arrived in all its splendor to our table. Grilled octopus with roasted seasonal vegetables. Simple. Flavorful. Spectacular visual appeal. A perfectly acceptable starter that was savored slowly before it was eventually unfortunately no more.
The Salad Verde was comprised of arugula, mizuna lettuce, creamy avocado, earthy pine nuts and a homemade parmesan crisp sitting right on top of the entire conglomeration. No guilt with this salad. Just clean tasting greens, detailed with savory pine nuts in an easy presentation that came together to create a sublime dish.
Did somebody say squid ink" Here’s something intriguing both in appearance and flavor…the Neri, which was a squid-ink tagliolini surrounded by tender shrimp and a vegetable ragu with a white wine-garlic-olive oil sauce. Good for you, and great tasting, this pasta dish really delivered in the arenas of taste, visual stimulation, and aromatic factors.
More pizza? When at Hostaria Del Piccolo, why not? This Formaggi Le Pizze satisfied our craving for “more” with mountains of stringy mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, ricotta, goat cheese and gorgonzola atop yet another finely crafted supportive crust. Cheese lovers beware, because this one is a sinful and tempting offering sure to win you over!
I indulged in the Pappardelle presentation of the evening, which encompassed long flat ribbons of spinach pasta tossed with a mouthwatering white duck ragu. Perfectly al dente handcrafted pasta topped with succulent, savory, and insanely memorable flavorings of duck and other complimentary flavors, I was literally reluctant to let anyone try it at all. This is a dish I could eat every night and never get tired of.
Pan seared Wahoo lightly seasoned and served with steamed stalks of broccolini garnished with sliced almonds and a simple wedge of lemon graced my husband’s place at the table. He was enamored by this fish presentation. The uncomplicated full-flavored entrée was perfected I the kitchen then detailed with simplistic garnishes for a clean look, and an outstanding flavor.
I was outvoted to NOT get dessert, so we had two delivered to our party for tasting. First, the Tortino…a flourless Guayaquil chocolate cake that sent everyone in our group to a sedate place of contentment. A vanilla whipped cream and a fresh raspberry topped this loaf of chocolate heaven, and the accompanying bowl of raspberry sauce sent us over the edge!
Ah, coconut! This vegan, handmade soft coconut-lemon cake arrived happily wading in a pool of vanilla sauce. We couldn’t decide which dessert we liked better, as they were both so different in terms of flavor. After deciding it wasn’t fair to vote on that, we didn’t. Instead, we finished every morsel of this lemony, coconut-laden sin cake and celebrated the fact that the amazing meal we had enjoyed together was a spectacular one to be relived again in the future.
◾ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The clean lines of this modern-with-warm-rustic-touches establishment was appealing. A quaint intimate bar area allows for a few window-side tables as well as a few seats at a small, yet well-designed and amply stocked bar. Dark hearty woods impress and create a warm inviting feel in the midst of the overall energetic vibe of the indoor space.
◾FOOD / DRINK: If you’re looking for creative, potent and conversation piece cocktails in the Los Angeles area, this is the place to try. Cuisine-wise, everything we tried…I mean EVERYTHING…was incredibly fresh, hot, crisp, and delectable!
◾LOCATION: Hostaria Del Piccolo is located on the corner of Broadway and 6th Street at 606 Broadway in Santa Monica, California 90401.
◾HOURS: The establishment is available for service Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 AM until 10 PM, and again on Friday and Saturday from 11:30 Am until 11 PM. We enjoyed discount pricing during Happy Hour before being seated, which lasted from 5 PM until 7 PM on the Sunday that we visited the eatery. In addition, Hostaria Del Piccolo now served Brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 AM until 2:30 PM.
◾SERVICE / STAFF: From the bar to the table, we experienced friendly, efficient service throughout the evening. Though the restaurant did get a bit loud during our main meal, we still enjoyed our spot across from the kitchen were all the action was occurring.
◾PRICE / VALUE: Though my husband prefers very thin pizza dough, he enjoyed the texture of the two pizzas we tried, as did I. All dishes arrived hot and weren’t too salty or overbearing in flavor. The selection of items on the menu were ample, and our entire experience as a whole was top notch. Definitely worth the price to at least give the place a try in our opinion.
◾CORKAGE FEE: $20 per 750 mL bottle with a 2-bottle limit
◾CONTACT INFO: Phone: (310) 393-6633, Website: www.hostariadelpiccolo.com
◾PARKING: We chose to park in a relatively nearby metered parking space along Broadway close to the restaurant’s entrance that opened up as we were driving past, however there was also Valet service available for $7 per vehicle.
◾PRICING: We were thrilled about Hostaria Del Piccolo’s Happy Hour pricing when we enjoyed the Primavera and Blackwork Orange cocktails for just $6 each at the bar. Additionally, the Happy Hour bites, including the $7 Verdura Le Pizze, are discounted as well compared to the standard dinner menu. Our main meal consisted of the Piovra for $13, the Salad Verde for $10 for starters, then four terrific entrees for our meals: the Formaggi Le Pizze for $13, the Neri for a solid $18, the Daily Pesce Special for $28, while the Pappardelle came in at $17.