Let’s face it, the Santa Monica Pier has never had the reputation of quality food or fine dining. Cotton candy, hot dogs on a stick and greasy burgers could very well be your only option under the neon lights. That is starting to change with the additions of The Albright and Ristorante Al Mare. Upon walking into Al Mare, the first noticeable change is that there isn’t one at all. Some might be concerned that the addition of new restaurants might change the landscape of the pier but Al Mare fits in like a glove. The only exception is the access to much better food. On a gorgeous Friday night, we dined on the rooftop of the 3-level restaurant overlooking the circus tent housing Cirque Du Soleil and everything felt right in the world.
Is it even possible to dine at a restaurant these days without seeing some sort of charcuterie plate? That being said, we still needed to order the Prosciutto e Burrata, a 24-month aged Parma Prosciutto served with fresh Burrata cheese and Bruschetta. With every component of the dish hitting the mark, it is absolutely worth every penny of the $14 price tag.
There is one dish that gets my attention every time I see it on a menu. Cioppino is a dish that is uniquely tied to California and something I never knew of while growing up out east. Having an affinity for seafood and Italian cuisine, it’s only natural to have a love affair with Cioppino and Al Mare’s version only solidified my love for this dish. The fish was cooked to perfection and was swimming in a delicious broth with a spice level that will kick you in the pants. The one unique quality of this dish is the addition of salmon which I don’t believe I have ever seen before but it worked like a charm.
The great food didn’t stop quite yet. A heaping bowl of Chitarrine Nere ai Frutti di Mare (say that 5 times fast) adorned our table and it was as pleasing to our taste buds as it was to our eyes. With enough garlic that could kill a vampire(not complaining) the squid ink pasta beckoned us with its sweet and savory richness. Spaghetti is not a favorite of mine but when every ingredient sings in harmony, you need to put your feelings aside and just dive in.
I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it again, “I can do without dessert”. That doesn’t mean I hate dessert but it’s just not a major part of my dining experience. Until this point, Al Mare hit the mark with every dish and their Tiramisu was no different. Lady Fingers dipped in Coffee, Mascarpone Cheese and Hazelnuts Mousse. Can you think of something better to end a meal like this. I usually end the meal with a cup of coffee but there was absolutely no need.
There are finally a few reasons to visit the Santa Monica Pier and Ristorante Al Mare is on the top of that list. This is a great addition, not only for locals but for the endless crowds of visitors that will make their way to Los Angeles.