Manhattan Beach to Italy by Way of La Sosta Enoteca

May 31, 2016

If you were to tell me that you want to plan an unforgettable date in Manhattan Beach and needed a restaurant recommendation for a romantic, unique and upscale place that serves incredible food, I wouldn't be so quick to steer you towards the popular downtown area of the beach city. No, I would tell you to visit the intersection of Highland Avenue and Rosecrans for one of the best Italian dining experiences you can get in the Southbay and the Westside.

La Sosta Enoteca is one of Manhattan Beach's best kept secrets. If you don't know about it already, then you may have passed it by as you drove down the coast on your way to a causal eatery like The Kettle, or Uncle Bill's. You wouldn't know it, but inside an upscale retail space that resembles a large two-story beach cottage, is a quaint (about 32 seats) and elegant Italian restaurant that is owned by Chef Luca Manderino. The space is intimate and makes you feel as if you are dining in Chef Luca's home in Italy. You won't find chianti bottles dangling on the ceiling or cliche vintage Italian posters on the walls, because La Sosta is not that kind of place. It's a place for a special occasion, a birthday celebration, the nice date night that you've been planning, or the place you bring her parents for dinner. It's a special place.

Don't expect an over-pour of red sauced pasta dishes here. Manderino is from the Veneto region of Italy, and as is the case in the style of cooking found in Northern Italy, he is more focused on the use of wine, broth, butter, and herbs to flavor his dishes rather than dousing it in tomato sauce. The result is elegant and artfully prepared dishes that are simple yet flavorful. The pappardelle with wild boar bolognese is a perfect example of this. The dish is prepared with minimal sauce and the focus is more about the perfectly cooked handmade pasta along with the flavor of the meat that is very lightly dressed in a fresh tasting tomato sauce. You'll also want to make sure that you order the Gnocchi All'Astice, which is simply the best gnocchi you'll find in LA. The perfect ratio of potatoes and flour, resulting in the most airy and pillow-like pasta, served with a luxurious and satisfying lobster sauce. Of course, there are several Italian wines on the list to make even the most hard-to-please sommelier smile. 

La Sosta Enoteca is a one of a kind experience. You feel like you've been invited to a fancy supper club at a Chef's home. And even though just outside there are surfers walking back from the beach and you can catch a glimpse of a California sunset over the pacific, inside Chef Luca's "home," you're transported 6,000 miles away to Italy.

Squid ink polenta topped with smoked cod 
Filet mignon tartare and shiitake mushrooms, fontina cheese, and white truffle essence. 

Gnocchi All'Astice - homemade gnocchi with Maine lobster sauce.
Pappardelle al Cinghiale - homemade pappardelle with wild boar.  
Oven baked rack of lamb simply seasoned with salt and pepper.

Chocolate covered Zeppola

3713 Highland Avenue, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266