Michelin-starred chef Stefano De Lorenzo believes that everyone should be able to try really good pasta.
At Colapasta, his new restaurant at 1241 5th St. in downtown Santa Monica, De Lorenzo packs half-moon shaped casunziei with beet filling, stirs cherry tomatoes from the nearby farmers market into ricotta gnocchi and layers homemade lasagne with grass-fed beef ragu. But whether long, stuffed or flat, De Lorenzo’s pasta won’t run you more than $14.
Santa Monicans know De Lorenzo for La Botte, a Michelin-starred restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard and 7th Street that closed in 2014, and Piccolo Venice, which shuttered its doors the following year.
While Colapasta is less formal than his previous ventures, De Lorenzo said the quality of his handmade pasta and carefully selected ingredients is the same as it was at La Botte.
“It’s the same food, but made for a smaller kitchen,” he said. “I just love to make pasta, and I wanted to do something more casual, something for me and my family.”
De Lorenzo said he wanted to open another restaurant in downtown Santa Monica because he feels at home in the area and likes being able to walk to the Santa Monica Farmers Market to buy ingredients and chat with vendors.
He’s moved away from the old-school, wooden interior of La Botte, instead opting for a modern, glass-fronted space with concrete floors, teal chairs and a large black-and-white photo of a boy holding a colander over his head.
“I wanted to keep it simple,” De Lorenzo said. “I didn’t want to scare people away with white tablecloths.”
The simplicity extends to the menu, which for now offers one soup, two salads and eight pastas, one of which is gluten-free with a choice of three different sauces.
De Lorenzo urges diners to try the casunziei, a ravioli-like pasta from his home region of Dolomiti. It’s a carryover from La Botte — one he said he’ll likely never stop making.
“It’s very unique, and it represents where I come from,” he said.
He also recommends the calamarata al pomodoro from Napoli, calling it a “comfort food” akin to pizza, and the bigolio aglio olio from Campania, which incorporates bread crumbs and anchovies to “keep it interesting,” he said.
The restaurant initially opened earlier this month just for lunch, but it’s now open for dinner as well and plans to add a beer and wine list in short order.