Sea, Scene & Sun | Élephante, Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica, CA, October 2022
• GAYOT’s Rating: 13/20
• Cuisine: Mediterranean / Italian / Pasta
• Open: Mon.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-midnight, Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-midnight
Here is where the expression “it’s like a zoo” comes to mind. Labeling the restaurant with an animal name was visionary. Since it opened in 2018, patrons have been flocking to the space in herds like elephants do. It also seems that they like dining in the dark, which I do not. So, I highly recommend coming to Élephante before the sun disappears to take advantage of the backdrop view: nothing less than the grand Pacific Ocean behind majestic palm trees and the Santa Monica Pier.
To be in symbiosis with the sea and the exotic trees, the menu is composed of Mediterranean and Italian flavors. The dishes are classic, with no real creativity. Besides the puccia, a specialty bread from Apulia, to be dipped into a whipped eggplant mousse, and the pavlova served with a passion fruit coulis, there is nothing noteworthy. The energy at Élephante is fueled by the crowd that constantly comes in and out, and the happiness created by the drinks at no less than three bars, rather than the food.
Before the spaghetti, the vodka sauce canestri or the squid ink pasta, you can opt for salads (burrata/tomatoes, Brussels sprouts), grilled octopus mingled with hearts of palm or déjà-vu fried calamari. In the mains, expect to find a branzino and a 20-ounce Milanese veal chop panko breaded and seasoned with a spicy salsa verde. Let me not forget to mention that there are six choices of wood-fired pizzas.
The imaginative design of the restaurant perched on a rooftop feels like you are in a resort by the sea, a refreshing surprise after seeing and walking through the rather ugly entryway of the restaurant at street level
> Scroll down the food photo gallery for the décor photos.