Piccolo is just steps away from the boardwalk in Venice, CA. Unless you are walking down Dudley Avenue to your car, chances are you missed this remarkable restaurant. Upon walking in, diners are greeted with a larger newly expanded dining room and open kitchen in the back. There is no host/hostess table, but the staff keeps a watchful eye on the door and immediately walk over to greet new guests. Lara quickly came over from the other side of the restaurant to welcome us. We gave her our reservation. She checked our names and came back with Pietro. He seated us at a two top in what looked to be the original portion of the restaurant.
Tables are draped with white linen showing neatly arranged silverware. There is a beautifully designed candle holder on each table illuminating soft light. The fireplace on the other side of the restaurant provides a warm, cozy atmosphere. The ambiance is relaxing yet elegant and very romantic. Perfect to celebrate our special anniversary.
Pietro returned with our menus and told us about the specials, which included a white truffle pasta for $100 per plate. It was almost irresistible, but we were armed with six absolute must orders from an Italian friend who told us this was the "best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles." Everything on the menu sounded mouthwatering, but we took our friend's suggestions and decided that we could always deviate from the list on our next visit.
After taking our order*, Lara quickly returned with two glasses of preseco to start off the meal. It was refreshingly bubbly and one of the best preseco I have tasted. We also learned that Pietro and Lara are both from Naples, Italy which explained their charming and captivating accents.
* The food pictured are all half orders because we informed Lara that we wanted to share everything.
The bread basket arrived bursting with several varieties: regular white bread, onion focaccia, olive focaccia, and sardine infused rolls. The olive focaccia with whole pieces of kalamatas was bursting with flavors, but the star of the basket was the tiny sardine-infused rolls. The salty and rich flavor of the sardine was captured perfectly in every soft roll.
The basket was followed by the most amazing olive oil I have ever tasted. The pure unadulterated flavor of the olive oil was to die for and absolutely shined with a slice of the regular white bread.
This 2008 Dogliani "I filari" from Poderi Luigi Einaudi winery was the perfect complement to our meal. The wine had some black pepper and currant flavors that developed well as it breathed. Very similar to a heavy cab.
Prosciutto d'Anatra homemade duck proscuitto: fresh watercress drizzle
The duck proscuitto was smooth, fatty and very rich. Each slice was divine and very thin it almost melted in my mouth. The seasoning allowed the natural duck flavor to shine and the watercress drizzle was a refreshing complement.
Carpaccio di agnello seared lamb thinly sliced, marinated celery, Piave shavings
The lamb carpaccio was brilliantly prepared and beautifully presented. The sear on the outside infused great flavors into the lamb and not only was it seasoned perfectly, but the lamb tasted very fresh without a trace of gaminess. The Piave lent a rich and slightly sweet flavor while the celery added a nice crunch. This dish helped me rediscover celery because the texture tasted nothing like what I know. It was crunchy almost like jicama. The slice of black truffle gave this dish a sophisticated look and taste.
Capesante Gratinate seared sea scallops over Parmesan-truffle fondue
The large scallop was beautifully seared and perfectly cooked. The natural sweetness of the scallop and the tender texture was highlighted in this dish. The Parmesan-truffle fondue was a revelation. The smooth and rich flavors did not interfere with the scallops. If only all fondues could taste this good. This was the best scallop dish I have ever tasted.
Carbonara di quaglia truffle-tagliolini, roasted quail carbonara, with quail eggs, parmesan
Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, the carbonara arrived. The truffle-tagliolini was flawless. The quail was delectable and the sauce was velvety and luxurious. This was the best pasta dish I have ever had.
Agnolotti di Manzo e Cavolo Nero ravioli filled with natural beef tenderloin and Tuscan kale: rosemary-roasted garlic, Parmesan
This dish was a truly amazing exploration of a ravioli dish. The small packages of homemade ravioli were delicate, but packed a tremendous amount of flavor. When biting into the ravioli, I could taste the distinct flavor of the beef which was complimented by the rosemary butter with a hint of lemon. The wrapper-to-filling ratio of the raviolis was perfect ensuring the subtlety of the flavors were brought to the forefront of the palate.
Tagliata di Kobe natural kobe n.y. steak (12 oz), seared and sliced: lemon-thyme pesto. maldon salt
Seeing the heavy Sambonet steak knife all I could think about was the beef. After the first bite our table fell silent. We smiled at each other, nodded our heads, closed our eyes, and ate this silence. Words could not describe this mind blowing dish. The seasoning was out of this world and the use of pesto was genius. The peppery greens gave the dish that extra touch, highlighting all the flavors. The polenta was creamy, but light and soft at the same time. It soaked up the tasty juice left on the plate.
Panna Tuscan Vin Santo pannacotta: pistacchios creme anglaise
The panna cotta was soft and the pistachio crust added a nice crunch.
Semifreddo Imported Amaretto cookies soft-frozen cream
The homemade gelato was filled with chunks of crunchy amaretto cookies and the homemade caramel was one of the best I have tasted. The almond flavor came through nicely against the sweet creaminess of the gelato.
Lingotto Warm Valrhona chocolate with Venetian "Elisir", balsalmic syrup
The flourless cake was very rich and smooth. The basalmic glaze was sublime and helped cut the richness of the cake. The prickly pear gelatin was the icing on the cake. The sweet sour flavor of the prickly pear and the soft texture of the gelatin was so good we each wanted a big bowl of it.
At the end of our meal we had a chance to speak with Chef Bobo, executive chef and partner of the restaurant to thank him for a fabulous meal. Chef Bobo has been at the restaurant for four years and ended up becoming a partner. His vision is to bring Italian cuisine that diners haven't experienced. There are no tomatoes on the menu because there is so much more to Italian cuisine than marinara sauce and caprese salads. He also aims to feature different and creative dishes that aren't commonly featured in most restaurants. He's a very humble chef whose innovative ideas are exciting the palates of diners through out Los Angeles.
Three hours and nine courses later we were almost in tears, overjoyed at the extraordinary meal we just experienced and deeply saddened that it was over. There was no doubt in my mind, I just had one of the most scrumptious and memorable meals of my life. Every dish tasted refined, well thought out, and exceptional. The service was unparalleled. The staff is personable, accommodating and knowledgeable. The change of silverware was like an expertly rehearsed dance routine. Piccolo is nothing short of perfection and one of the best kept secrets in Los Angeles.
5 out of 5 Stars + FAVORITE RESTAURANT OF 2010
5 Dudley Avenue
Venice, CA 90291
Valet is available for $7 on Speedway. Lot parking is available for $5 at the end of Rose Ave. Plenty of free street parking on Pacific after 8 p.m.