I’ve probably walked by the Heroic Italian restaurant in Santa Monica 100 times. I never went in to eat there because it looked like it was just a sandwich place. I couldn’t imagine they would have a very good wine list. Boy was I wrong!
The owner emailed me about one of my reviews. He suggested I stop by. So I did, and I was pretty amazed! This is a restaurant which is typical of middle-class restaurants throughout Italy, except it has more menu selections and a much better wine list. It’s not as pretentious as many of the Italian restaurants in Los Angeles, but it should be. The food is good and the wine list exceptional.
I went with my two sons so that we could order a number of dishes. We started with the sweet peppers, which were wonderful. I then moved on to the squid in black ink sauce. I’ve had better in Venice, Italy, but these were good, and it was nice to find them on the menu – I don’t know where else one can find that dish in Los Angeles.
Then we shared a clam linguine and an eggplant parmigiana, no stranger to most Italian menus. Also, quite good. We finished up with a Caesar salad which was ordinary. It’s hard to find a good Caesar salad in Los Angeles except at Boa on Ocean Avenue. I knew Caesar, after he moved to Tijuana and was the maître’d at a hotel dining room. This is not how he would have made it.
There are a lot of dishes on the menu that I plan to come back for: the pasta carbonara (something I often make at home), the spicy shrimp Diavolo, the veal chop, filet mignon, cioppino, Sicilian cauliflower – well I could just go on and on, but you can see pictures of many of these dishes on their website.
But the big surprise was the wine list. Never since Valentino closed have I seen such a good Italian wine list, and the prices were not crazy like so many lists. We ended up with a Brunello and it was just the right wine in the right place for the right price.
Stop in and see if you agree with me. You might well see me in the corner table with a good bottle of wine on the table.
516 SANTA MONICA BLVD.
Merv Hecht, like many Harvard Law School graduates, went into the wine business after law. In 1988, he began writing restaurant reviews and books. His latest book “The Instant Wine Connoisseur, 3rd Edition” is available on Amazon. He currently works for several companies that source and distribute food and wine products internationally. Please send your comments to: [email protected]