Always In The Quest For The Best | Heroic Italian, Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica, CA, June 2021
• GAYOT’s Rating: 15/20
• Cuisine: Italian / Wine Bar
• Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Tues. 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Wed.-Sun. 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
Jeffrey Merrihue became a restaurateur by true passion for the art of food. A former successful executive in advertising, he sold the company he created and decided to do what he had always wanted: open a restaurant. He did so in 2019. He did it well: Heroic Deli & Wine Bar was one of GAYOT’s 2019 Best New Restaurants in the U.S.
At the time, Barbara Pollastrini, was the chef. Now, he is the “chef.” It means that he designs the dishes and his creativity is being followed by the team in the kitchen. They have been here for a couple of years, and they know how to execute Merrihue’s food ideas very well. (Also, he renamed the restaurant Heroic Italian.)
Every time I go to Heroic Italian, where wine is also a big draw, Merrihue has either perfected the dish(es) I had before or brought new ones. As time goes by, they keep getting better and better. The secret: his constant pursuit to perfection to make him (and us) happy. I know him — he won’t rest until he is fully satisfied, regardless of the time and cost.
The last dinner I had (see photos below) was a perfect crescendoing progression of tastes, prepared with all fresh products. I asked for a spoon to make sure I would not leave any broth from the Mushrooms & Polenta. I don’t think I have ever had seared scallops cooked that well (like butter in my mouth). I will, now, have a hard time eating veal Parmesan somewhere else. Merrihue has delegated the sweet ending to his friend Andy Gavin, who makes the most whimsical gelatos.