Marina del Rey, California
Locanda Positano is a dot on the commercial stretch of Lincoln Avenue that runs from Marina del Rey through Santa Monica; you might just miss this tiny gem if you blink. The fare is southern Italian, reflecting Chef Michelangelo Pinto’s Old World origins (Positano is a 60 kilometer drive from his native Naples); the menu changes every month or so, with a Speciali del Giorno menu that is as substantial as the regular menu. Chef Pinto and paisano partner Paolo Scovolo opened the bistro in 2009; from the street, Locanda Positano presents a diminutive Mediterranean façade. The small dining room is a meld of rustic Italian and modern decor, with pictures of its namesake Positano hanging from the walls. The kitchen delineates the space, with a more austere back room that handles overflow on busy nights; diners are treated to a view of the climate-controlled wine room.
The restaurant prides itself on using local and sustainable produce, with much of it coming from the local farmers markets; the meat is sturdy and flavorful, with Italian favorites such as Piedmontese beef and wild boar; pasta is made in-house (including a gluten-free penne and tagliatelle). The obligatory bread basket arrives at the table with lemon, spice, and herb-infused olive oils, and the staff is adepts at pairing your selection with a fine Italian vintage. Locanda Positano’s Tagliere de Antipasto Misto features an amazing assortment of charcuterie, accompanied by olives and pickled vegetables – expect to see speck, bresaola, Salame Felino sharing a plank with buffalo mozzarella, Gorgonzola and a spicy Pecorino with pistachio and pepper.
With octopus, lamb, veal and a variety of other meats on the menu, carnivores may find selecting the appropriate hearty entree daunting, but Locanda Positano’s wild boar appears nightly and is not to be missed. This delicacy is available ossobuco over saffron risotto, or braised and served over pappardelle noodles – the tangy, tender meat is braised and then oven-roasted in wine for 5 hours; the reduction in the pan is used for the murky sauce that infiltrates the dish. Forget the stereotypical cannoli and finish the experience with a house-made panna cotta with fresh berries or tiramisu accompanied by a sturdy caffè or sweet dessert wine.
In a city where authentic Italian cuisine is as rare as a 1998 Quintarelli Amarone, keeping an eye out for this piccolo ristorante is worth the unparalleled Mediterranean experience along the Pacific Coast Highway.
NOTE: The cost for the food was provided by Locanda Positano. The content provided in this article was not influenced whatsoever by the organizer of the event.