BY DAVID PISARRA
601 Colorado Ave
Santa Monica, Ca 90401
COMFORT AND CONSISTENCY ARE
THE KEYS TO FRITTO MISTO
There are few more enjoyable experiences than walking into a restaurant or bar and being known. That small town, feeling like ‘a regular’ just makes the environment so much nicer.
Owner Robert Kerr wanted that familiarity to be the customer’s experience with Fritto Misto, and he has succeeded.
I think I qualify as a regular, since I’m there about once a month on average.
This is a basic restaurant, no linen tablecloths, no linen napkins, nothing fancy here, but good consistent food.
As you are reading the extensive menu with entrée size salads and a wide range of meal choices, one of the wait staff will drop a basket of still steaming bread and ice cold butter on the table.
Always ask for the olive oil, balsamic and some garlic paste.
They’ll bring you a ramekin of mashed fresh garlic that will definitely enhance the bread and keep the vampires away. The ice cold butter is always an annoyance to me, it’s almost as bad as those restaurants that have the music up so loud you cannot have a conversation.
I know the prudish and overly protective health department is behind this atrocity of gastronomic enjoyment, but that just adds to the annoyance factor – stupid regulations that serve only to calcify the bureaucracy – but I digress.
The fact is the bread comes with a delightful crust and a sweet and chewy interior that is designed for those of us who are carboholics. A divine meal would be the bread, one of the fantastic salads and some sparkling water or wine, depending on the time of day.
The salad selections are ideal in my opinion. I usually get the Greens and Gorgonzola for the table when I’m with others, and pick the medium or large size.
It’s a refreshing mix of greens and a healthy dose of tangy gorgonzola that is balanced out by caramelized walnuts.
There is a Misto Salad that is a heartier, more vegetarian friendly mix of lettuces and carrots, zucchini, tomatoes and pine nuts which is also popular item.
The light balsamic vinaigrette is house dressing that can be a bit strong if it’s not mixed well, but overall is delightful.
When it comes to the mains there is a wide selection of pasta dishes that range from mellow in spice, like the pillows (stuffed pasta) and a light cream sauce to the Atomic Pasta that you should be prepared for – it’s spicy – so much so that I cannot eat more than a bite or two.
There are usually daily specials and if you’re there for the lamb over linguine I highly recommend it.
I think the best part of Fritto Misto, besides the flourless chocolate cake and the lemon bars, is the Create Your Own pasta. This mix and match of Italian dining is a wonderful experience, you create exactly what you want to eat.
Most nights I go with the ‘non-pastabilities’ of shredded vegetables, and I add in chicken and then a basil cream sauce.
Other nights it’s comfort food city; the linguine carbonara with shrimp. Having the ability to craft a pasta dish means that dinner with those picky eaters can be a lot less stressful.
The seafood selections are slim here, there’s no Linguine and Clams.
The menu is usually limited to a salmon filet or shrimp, which is one of the ways that the restaurant is able to keep costs in line and quality consistent. I like seafood, but when I want pasta, this is my regular go to for a casual night of comfort food.
I don’t usually eat alone, and in all the years that I’ve been a customer at Fritto Misto I cannot recall a single bad meal.
There have been times that it gets so crowded that the kitchen is backed up, which generally means there will be a free piece of that flourless chocolate cake coming our way – which is nice because it has the added benefit of being “guiltless” since it wasn’t ordered, but just appeared!
One of the measures of a restaurant is consistency – of food preparation but also staff.
At Fritto Misto, where I have been eating for at least 15 years I have seen the same managers and waitstaff.
On the Fritto Misto website (which admittedly looks like it hasn’t been updated in quite awhile) they tout their staff’s longevity, “Fritto Misto is owner operated. The general manager, Melinda Amaya, has been with us since 1993.
Her husband Franco has been the Santa Monica kitchen Manager since 1992. As of 2012, our other cooks have been with us an average of 14 years.”
I’ve never had to wait more than 20 minutes but there can be a long line on busy nights. You should call ahead and inform them you are bringing in a large group.
Parking is available in the back and the street. There is also metered street parking on 6th by the Big Blue Bus yard.
Fritto Misto rates a solid 4 out of 5 stars for food, service, and environment. Presentation is rather typical and nothing to write about.
Prices range from $9-18 for small plates, $10-15 for salads, lunch specials, and dinner mains are $10-25.