2408 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA, USA
Cafe Paradiso Santa Monica Reviews
Feb 28, 2007
Came here last minute on a recommendation and couldn't have been more fortunate with the choice. Cafe Paradiso is a small restaurant located on Wilshire Blvd, and one that you would easily miss if you weren't looking specifically for it. The interior, while small, is warm and inviting. Upon entering you will probably be greeted by Mario, the owner of the restaurant and one of the friendliest people you will meet. He is originally from Sardegna, the large island off the coast of Italy, but now operates Cafe Paradiso with his wife, who personally makes the desserts.
Anyway, after sitting down and glancing over the menu, I could quickly tell that this was going to be a pretty authentic Italian dining experience. Most of the dishes had simple combinations of ingredients, heavily utilizing the traditional staples of garlic, olive oil, and tomato, and were like the dishes and ingredients you might find in a restaurant in Italy. Despite the plethora of appetizing sounding options on the menu, I wanted to try something that wasn't listed on the menu - Bucatini Alla'matricinana - a spicy, hearty pasta dish common to Rome. I asked Mario if they could prepare it, and he told me "Of course we can prepare it! No problem." The dish came out, and although it tasted a bit different than I was used to, it was still incredibly good. Best of all, this "customized" dish only ended up costing $12.95, the price of the cheapest pasta dish listed on the menu.
The appetizer, which was a calamari and shrimp dish served with a sweet tomato sauce, was also very good. It was easily enough for two people, and I could have been very satisfied with the appetizer alone.
After the appetizer and the entree, I was feeling pretty full, but Mario had another surprise in store for us. He brought out a complimentary dessert, his wife's homemade tiramisu, covered with a chocolate powder. It was fluffy, sweet, and delicious.
All in all, the only downside of the evening was that I ended up eating way too much. It was a struggle to finish the last bites of my entree (but I didn't want to leave any food on the table after getting a custom dish made). Already extremely full at this point, it was another tough battle to finish the surprise dessert (it would have been rude not to eat a complimentary dish!).
All in all, the personal service, authentic food, price, and ambiance combined together to form a wonderful dining experience and I will definitely be back.
Part of the list Favorite Restaurants in California
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