Lunch with Louie at L’ombretta
Santa Barbara food reviews with Louie the pessimist food critic
Oct 13, 9:27 PM (PT)
Santa Barbara has given birth to a new baby. After proper burial of Jojo’s, the predecessor at this location - a new restaurant has been born. Congratulations to its daddy, a very congenial fellow from Italy named Andrea. I wish him lots of luck and success in all of his future endeavors.
“Ombretta” is the mini-glass version of a regular glass of wine. It is actually very cute looking, even though it only holds about 2 1/2 ounces of vino. It is very popular in Venice, where it is used in establishments that are the Italian version of a Spanish tapas bar. Small plates of food at regular prices and of course small glasses of wine at also very regular prices.
Located right at the corner of Chapala and Anapamu, L’ombretta is very easy to spot by the curtains. They are a string of clothes giving the impression of being hung out to dry. Each t-shirt, towel, napkin and even - if I’m not mistaken - a pair of white men’s shorts, are all being held by wooden clothes pins and are hanging in the window to dry. According to Andrea, there are no clothes dryers in Venice, so people dry their clothes in such a manner. Cute. Kind of. But, based on the assortment of clothes hanging at the window, some single dude lives at L’ombretta. No signs of any female attire anywhere - a mamone! By the way, looking at a pair of some dude’s undies is not my idea of pre-lunch appetizer. Why don’t you try hanging up your sister’s brassiere? Maybe that will open my appetite.
Open only for two weeks, business seems to be good. There was a sizable crowd for lunch, and apparently things get busier by night at the wine bar. It is incredible, the change that has taken place since the last establishment. It is first class all around; a great looking stone floor, a wonderful dark wooden bar, matching wooden tables and chairs, and several exquisite ceiling fans complete the ambiance.
At lunch, Ed became totally obsessed with a certain item on the menu, an Adriatic Sea bass. Say What? Trying to explain to Ed that there are varieties of sea bass other than Chilean and Californian was an exercise in futility. We even talked to Andrea about it. Finally out of sheer curiosity and capriciousness, we ordered an Adriatic Sea bass pannini, which comes with a side order of arugula salad. We also ordered a salad of tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella and just plain water, as coke or seven-up are not allowed in the premises. It’s either Arrangata or Lemonata, or a bottle of San Pellegrino water. Or, of course, wine. Very chi-chi, and very expensive.
The Adriatic fish was curious, maybe a little too fishy. The arugula salad was extremely salty. And, back to the Adriatic Sea bass, maybe it was just too much to swim from the Adriatic Sea to the California coast. He looked and tasted a little exhausted from the journey; he needed a bath and rest before actual presentation and consumption. Pass. The mozzarella caprese was all right, drizzled with olive oil and a few slivers of basil. The mozzarella was light and fresh and the tomatoes were firm and good-looking; the bread and grissini that came with the dish were a nice touch and tasty.
Well, just as with every baby, before it learns to walk, there will be some stumbles and falls. We’ll be back at night for some cicheti (little plates), and some Italian wines in your cute Ombrettas. Or, if in the mood, we will just buy the whole bottle. We’ll try your polenta and pig out on your Black Label San Danielle prosciutto.
And, we will be your biggest and most faithful customers. Just put up some curtains and get rid of your laundry drying in the windows. They don’t match your beautiful interiors, and they are, in a way, a little discriminating. Remember your sister.
Buona Fortuna and see you very soon.