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Spectacular Outdoor Dining in Santa Monica - Fia

Spectacular Outdoor Dining in Santa Monica - Fia

Old Aug 25th, 2020, 01:46 PM
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Spectacular Outdoor Dining in Santa Monica - Fia

Welcome to the new age of outdoor dining only in Southern California. A couple of weeks ago, we found a spot (Fia) in Santa Monica that perfectly combined wonderful outdoor ambiance and incredibly delicious food. Fia’s cuisine is dubbed "California Fare with touches of Italian Influence.” There was not one dish that missed the mark, and most of them came with a “Wow” factor. If you’re yearning for outdoor dining at a restaurant serving some creative and delectable cuisine, look no further than Fia in Santa Monica for a terrific dinner. (story with photos link below) (story no photos under photos of delectable Fia dishes)


Looking online for L.A. County dining establishments where we could enjoy a meal outdoors, we came upon a Santa Monica restaurant, Fia. The photos of its patio looked charming, and a few reviews said it was socially-distanced enough to feel comfortable, so on a balmy August night we headed to Fia, where we would be joined by our temporarily-masked friends Jeff and Cecilia.

We had booked an early 6 p.m. time slot to avoid any over-crowding later in the evening. The quaint patio area was surrounded by tall pine trees and a nice ocean breeze. Our temperature was taken upon arrival, and all staff members wore masks and shields.

An aesthetically designed outdoor bar area awaited, but we did not belly-up on this visit, as it is just as easy to order the well-crafted cocktails at our table.

An upstairs dining area had a couple dining above us for a short while, but no one sat at that table the rest of the evening, which was comforting.

Instead of menus, the servers give guests a QR Code. Take a photo of it with your phone, and voila, you have your menu.

Jeff and I started with Milano Manhattans; bourbon, house-blend of amaros, vermouth and bitters ($16). An excellent cocktail, indeed.

Next time we are going to try the Smoke Show; mezcal, passionfruit, clement d’orange, fresh lemon juice and pepper heat ($16). Highly recommended by our server.

Our very personable and helpful waiter explained that most of the starters were big enough for two people, and the Fia Italian Chopped Salad was large enough for four; personally dressed table-side with truffle vinaigrette ($20)). We saw this at an adjacent table and it looked great … and huge.

The wine list was fairly expensive, so we brought a bottle of Cab Franc from my favorite winery, Ramazzotti (they have a great tasting room in Geyserville, CA). Corkage was a steep $45, but after one sip, who cared.

As the four of us are not sharing dishes (well, for the most part) during this time of Covid, Jeff and Cecilia started with the burrata with charred corn; farmer’s market peaches on a polenta gaufrette (made with cornmeal and buckwheat) and prosciutto ($17) and the chicken liver mousse; with toasted brioche crumpets (6) and cherry marmalade with gherkins ($19). Wow! This was the best of the starters, although the burrata and peaches was a close second.

I had spied some amazing looking dishes arriving at the table next to ours so I went with the Spicy Chili Tuna on Crispy Arancini (four pieces ($20)) from the In the Raw section of the menu. Following Jeff’s lead, Tracy went with the burrata and peaches. The peaches tasted as if they were picked that afternoon and the pairing of ingredients was spot-on. Delicious.

By the time we finished those dishes, we wondered how we could possibly eat our dinner and dessert, but, as usual, we found a way.

For our main course, Tracy, Cecilia and I selected from the pasta portion of the menu. Tracy and Cecilia opting for a stupendous duck ragù; handmade tagliatelle, duck ragù with hints of orange and parmesan ($28). Wow!

While I, never being able to pass on a fresh truffle dish, ordered the handmade cavatelli; parmesan, brown butter and freshly shaved black truffle ($32). The truffle was grated onto the pasta at the table, just like in Italy.

From the Entrée portion of the menu, after consulting with our waiter, Jeff ordered Mary’s Organic Chicken ‘Parmesan’ with mozzarella di Bufala and pomodoro sauce ($30). This was an extra-large portion and while it was good, Jeff felt he should have been more adventuresome.

There were eight items on the Entrée menu the evening we were there and the Beef Wellington ($60) and Short Ribs ($42) called our name to share. Maybe next time. Bobby said the Nova Scotia Halibut ($36), White Sea Bass ($34) and Black Cod ($34) were also fabulous and very popular menu items. We saw the Prime Export Bone-In Ribeye (MP) arrive at the table next to us. On this evening it was a 32-ounce steak for $145. The kid who ordered it did not appear to be sharing and ate the entire steak himself. If four shared (and it looked large enough). it’s only about $35 a head.

Speaking of the table next to us, their dessert arrived while we were perusing the dessert menu and it looked magnificent! A Chocolate Dome filled with caramelized dark chocolate mousse, coffee cream, almond praline and cocoa biscuit ($20)! While we did not have room for that masterpiece, Tracy and I shared the Amalfi Lemon Mousse Cake; vanilla mousse, lemon curd, Lemoncello granita, and meringue ($15). The Lemoncello Granita was very tart and tasty and perfectly offset by the meringue crumble. Yum!

Jeff and Cecilia wrapped up their meal with the Plum and Verbena Cheesecake; plum compote, brown sugar crumble, plum and verbena sorbet ($15). Both desserts hit the spot.

If we didn’t have to drive, we would have ordered a Wake Up Call; Fia’s signature espresso martini made with vodka, freshly brewed espresso and vanilla bean. Of course, as people of a certain age, espresso at night means no sleeping for us, so I might just try the house Limoncello. As the saying goes, “You’ll always feel mellow after a good Limoncello.” OK, I might have made that up.

On the way to the restroom, Tray took a photo of the restaurant interior, which see said looked charming. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, indoor dining will return.

As fr as patio dining goes, it’s hard to imagine many places that have the ambiance of Fia. Fia’s website states it as “a lush secret garden.” The setting was perfect as was the meal.

Fia’s cuisine has been called “California fare with touches of Italian influence,” and “a menu inspired by the Amalfi coast with a focus on rustic dishes, local seafood and fresh house-made pasta.” Whatever the description, each one of our dishes received unanimous accolades, and we can’t wait to sample more of this fabulous fare.

This will be a must-return restaurant for us. Tracy and I are deciding on whether there should be a Mai Tai Tom Restaurant Of The Year during these trying times, but if there is, Fia is a top contender. Be sure to reserve Fia in advance, and bring a healthy appetite (and your mask!), because you will want to try a number of dishes when you visit.
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Old Aug 25th, 2020, 04:02 PM
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OMG -- those dishes look out of this world . . .
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Old Aug 30th, 2020, 12:16 PM
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not a fan of waffles for dinner, is that the latest trendy thing, like foam was or all those drizzles on a plate. I don't understand what that dish is supposed to be, ham with what looks like sweet stuff.

You are interested in history, I lived in Santa Monica a long time and that location has had a patio restaurant for many decades, just different ones. In the 1980s, it was Knoll's Black Forest Inn and was an upscale German restaurant run by a German immigrant (Norbert Knoll). SM had a several German restaurants back then (Mosel), not sure if they still do as I don't live there any more. I guess people aren't interested in that kind of Old World cuisine any more versus this more trendy stuff. Mr. Knoll retired around 2004, and then it became this more trendy place, the Wilshire restaurant, which was too trendy and ok but maybe overpriced. Both those always had that big patio dining, though. Wonder why they closed down and sold to this new place, it's a good location but maybe their food wasn't as good.

Knoll's was good, wonder if you can still get a good spaetzel and hazelnut torte around there.
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Old Aug 30th, 2020, 01:42 PM
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"not a fan of waffles for dinner, is that the latest trendy thing, like foam was or all those drizzles on a plate. I don't understand what that dish is supposed to be, ham with what looks like sweet stuff."

Did you look at the rest of the photos? There's a lot more than waffles.
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Old Aug 30th, 2020, 04:57 PM
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$45 corkage? Wow. We thought $10 was insane when we lived Down Under (many places didn't charge anything). We called it screwage

Evidently I'm a cheap date.
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Old Aug 31st, 2020, 11:41 AM
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LOL Melnq8; Christina, great background, thanks (we had fond memories of Knoll's back in the day); Tom, you've done it again!

I had to peruse the menu, as I'm generally not particularly fond of the "new" (2 decades at least) California cuisine. Only because I don't like truffle anything or mushrooms or game, or even raw tomatoes for that matter, and the "new" cuisine (not starting with Melisse; but it was a close second to that French restaurant that used to be on Little Santa Monica just west of Century City) that likes to incorporate or dump on top all of those hated items. And, while I'm on the subject, I'm not fond of edible flowers either!

There are, however, items on the menu that did catch my eye. In particular, I noticed that Fia picked up on (or pinched) the Chez Jay's late 50's/early 60's cuisine by adding Green Goddess salad dressing to its salad starter. A definite "hit"!!
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Old Aug 31st, 2020, 02:55 PM
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$45 corkage... That's more than Mastro's in Malibu!

Oh well. The wine list is sticker shock too.

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Old Aug 31st, 2020, 03:34 PM
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"not a fan of waffles for dinner

Starter ... the peaches were the star. It was actually burrata with charred corn; farmer’s market peaches on a polenta gaufrette (made with cornmeal and buckwheat) and prosciutto. Not "a lot of sweet stuff."

Last edited by maitaitom; Aug 31st, 2020 at 03:38 PM.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2021, 10:34 AM
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Late to the thread, but for anyone looking at this and wanting outdoor dining in Santa Monica, Main street has become nearly a walking street with every restaurant having outdoor dining in the streets. Places like Chinois on Main, Wolfgang's first restaurant, and La Vecchia have a very nice outdoor setup.
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