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From its reclaimed brick floor to its delectable, handmade pasta, Santa Monica’s Uovo practically transports guests to an old trattoria in Bologna.
Carlo and Lele Massimini, Jerry Greenberg, and Lowell Sharron founded Uovo in 2017. In addition to Uovo, Greenberg and Lele Massimini are two of the founders of Sushi Nozawa, the restaurant group behind SUGARFISH, KazuNori and Nozawa Bar. Together, the group took a vacant 1,100-square-foot interior and hired Los Angeles designer Marmol Radziner who enhanced the space with brick and rustic gray-colored oak on the walls for an authentic Italian feel.
My friend and I took a seat at the intimate pasta bar on black metal and round wood stools. From this perch, diners have an unobstructed view of the chefs creating fresh pasta dishes. For a more intimate setting, however, the restaurant also offers a few booths and banquette seating.
The drink menu features four Italian white wines – a pinot grigio, vermentino, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay available by the glass and by the bottle. The four red wines include a super Tuscan, Chianti superiore, Barbera D’Alba and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. For those who prefer to eat pasta with an Italian beer, Uovo serves a Peroni lager and Angelo Poretti.
Bologna, Italy is the epicenter of some of the best pasta dishes in the world and deeply inspires the restaurant’s menu. So much so that the owners of Uovo (which translates to “egg” in Italian) even built a kitchen in Bologna and have “sfogline” (female pasta masters) mix eggs, flour, and salt to make rich, deep yellow noodles. They make and cut fresh pasta sheets daily, and then fly the noodles to Santa Monica. It’s labor intensive, but the Italian pasta pairs better with the freshly made sauces and offers a unique texture different than American pasta.
As a result, Uovo lets this special pasta take center stage with a simple menu featuring dishes popular in Bologna, as well as a few Rome specialties. The pasta sauce recipes are Massimini family favorites, such as the tonnarelli alle vongole – a simple yet delicious combination of pasta, clams and red chili pepper.
What makes this restaurant unique is once you have placed your order, you can watch the chefs make it and plate it right in front of you. And for lunch, you can easily get in and out in less than an hour, perfect for a midday break.
We ordered the artichoke ravioli – which melted in my mouth – and the spicy tonnarelli all’arrabiata made with imported tomatoes, garlic and red chili peppers.
My two favorite meat-enhanced dishes included the lasagna layered with green-colored sheet pasta, and a comfort dish of tortellini filled with beef and mixed with a cream sauce made with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano. For a richer pasta dish, try the tonnarelli carbonara with cracked egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano, black pepper and crispy guanciale (cured pork cheek) creating a savory white sauce.
There are a few side dishes on the menu such as broccolini with garlic, roasted cauliflower and artichoke. Sadly, however, there is no salad, fish or bread. An Italian bread roll would be perfect for cleaning up a plate after finishing the pasta.
The menu also doesn’t have any desserts. To satisfy your sweet tooth, you’ll have to go next door to HiHo Cheeseburger (through an interior connecting door) for shakes and pies.
The next time you’re craving Italian food but can’t jump onto the next flight to Bologna, try Uovo. It’s just about the most authentic pasta restaurant in town. $$ Open everyday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Guests are seated on a first-come, first-served basis. 1320 Second St., (310)425-0064.
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