Santa Monica Pier needed Ristorante Al Mare (250 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, 90401; 310.458.4448). This restaurant is a great addition to Santa Monica’s touristy destination. It’s a more upscale seafood spot compared to the neighboring casual eateries. In addition to the Italian fair, the 3-story restaurant has great ocean views from their rooftop deck that has a full bar. There’s also a 2nd floor balcony terrace, private dining room, and 1st floor exterior deck all decorated with a elevated beach aesthetic.
Menu items include Italian staple starters like Bruschetta al Pomodoro and Caprese and more unique starters like Polpo Arrosto (Pan Roasted Octopus served with crushed Potato, Green Beans, Taggiasche Olives and Parsley Pesto) and Insalata Tiepida di Mare (Warm Shrimp, Calamari and Octopus Salad, with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Onion, Garbanzo and Mustard Dressing).
Definitely order the Insalata di Cavolini. It was such a unique salad with shaved Brussels sprouts, sieved boiled egg, almonds, Pecorino Romano, croutons and citrus dressing. Pizzas are pretty special with combos like the Mexicana with Spicy Marinara, Mozzarella, Jalapeno, Shrimp, Avocado, Onions, Cilantro; the Prosciutto e Rucola with Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Rucola, Shaved Parmesan, Prosciutto; the Bufala e Salamino with Tomato Sauce, Parmesan, Buffalo Mozzarella, Spicy Salame, Oregano and Basil; and the Funghi e Salsiccia with Smoked Mozzarella, Mixed Porcini Mushrooms, Pork Sausage, Scallions (No Sauce).
Pastas include Maccheroncini al Fume’ with Maccheroni Pasta with Onion, Smoked Pancetta, Prosciutto and Speck in a Pink Sauce and Parmesan; Spaghetti alle Vongole e Bottarga with Spaghetti Pasta with Roasted Garlic, White Wine, Clams and Bottarga, a Mediterranean Delicacy of Cured Fish Roe Grated over the Pasta; Tagliatelle Bolognese with House Egg Linguini with Bolognese Beef Ragu’, Parmesan and Parsley; Chitarrine Nere ai Frutti di Mare made from House Squid Ink Spaghetti with Calamari, Shrimp, Mussels, Clams and Spicy Marinara; and Gnocchi con Granchio made with House Potato Gnocchi tossed with Crab Meat, Roasted Garlic, Chopped Tomato and Parsley.
Main course favorites of mine include the Branzino cooked with Sicilian Style, (Tomato, Onions, Capers and Black Olives) and served with Vegetable Cous-Cous and toasted Almonds; and the Salmone served with Crushed Potato and Taggiasche Olives, Sauteed Spinach and Glazed Button Mushrooms. There is also the Cioppino, their Seafood Soup with, Shrimp, Calamari, Clams, Mussels, Salmon, Sea Bass and Mahi Mahi with Spicy Marinara Sauce and Grilled Ciabatta Bread. See the full menu here.