Let the warm red and gold hues of La Finestra's décor pique your light lunchtime appetite for a Caesar panino with chicken breast, romaine, Caesar dressing, and parmesan cheese ($10) or a cup of handmade pomodore tomato soup with lemon and garlic ($6). La Finestra, Italian for "The Finestra," really excels at dinner fare. As the evening lights of LA simmer, whet your palate with antipasto La Finestra, a platter of imported meats with cheeses, roasted red bell peppers, and marinated calamari ($12, $18 large); or decorate your date-charming chompers with a rustica salad of radicchio, arugula, endive, mushrooms, and shaved parmesan ($7, $10 large). The veal scaloppini marsala comes basted in wine with fresh-chopped tomatoes and mushrooms ($22)—and is hard not to refuse to refuse if you haven't yet refused concurrent offers from the ravioli aurora (stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach and drizzled with pink sauce, $15) and the thin-crusted pizza portofino (with mozzarella, gorgonzola, and caramelized onions, $15). La Finestra's friendly, accommodating staff will do their best to prepare your pizza any way you wish.
Borne from founder Aharon Klein's love of grilling and seasoning ocean-fresh seafood, Fish Grill sizzles a menu of wraps, pastas, and sandwiches starring juicy fillets of fish amid old-fashioned nautical décor. Chefs seal in succulent flavors by searing every fillet over smoky mesquite at a clean 1,000 degrees⎯roughly the temperature at which oceans melt. Each tasty dish of trout, tuna, salmon or ahi arrives tailored to the diner's tastes and prepared under the 3,300-year-old guidelines of kosher dietary law.
A sister establishment of Marina del Rey mainstay Killer Shrimp, the recently inaugurated Killer Cafe grants its diners picturesque views of the sparkling harbor as they savor handcrafted dishes. Customers can sprawl inside an oversize booth in the dining room, perch on the outdoor patio, or tie up their boat along the dock for dock-and-dine service. Each spot affords glimpses of the aquatic surroundings, where they can sample bites of classic breakfasts such as traditional eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes or opt to split a plate with nearby pelicans.
The Deluca family has always had seawater in its veins. In 1898, Naples native John Deluca settled in the port city of San Pedro and began to support his family as a fisherman. His oldest son, Jack, soon acquired a similar passion for the ocean—as a young boy he pulled lines at the docks and learned to fillet fish. By the age of 21, Jack co-owned State Fish Company with his friend and future brother-in-law, Gerald Cigliano. Jack went on to work for a decade at L.A. Fish & Oyster. He decided to branch out on his own in 1939 and set up a shop at the end of the Santa Monica Pier with his younger brother, Frank. Santa Monica Seafood Company was born.
Jack and Frank would grow the company for more than four decades, selling fish to famished tourists before selling fish to some of the top area restaurants, moving to a larger location to match their success. Their cousins and nephews would eventually purchase the company and expand it to new facilities in Orange County, Costa Mesa, and Las Vegas, with a corporate headquarters in Rancho Dominguez. The headquarters boasts a marine tank system that holds 12,000 pounds of live crustaceans, or one bodybuilding mermaid and all her weights.
Today, the four-generation family tradition continues at retail stores with cafés and oyster bars in Santa Monica and Costa Mesa. As part of their commitment to quality and respect for the sea, they work closely with organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium and FishWise to help develop their research and educational programs.
The seafood artists at Hook'd on Fish stultify hunger with a menu of fried fish, wraps, and salads. Charbroiled halibut ($13.95) or Ahi tuna ($9.95) slips into either Kicken Cajun, garlic butter, or virgin Mediterranean sauce before pirouetting across palates like jewelry-box escapists. Pair a glass of wine or beer with shrimp and sea scallops ($9.95) fried in vegetable oil, or smooth out tongue bumps with 1 of 11 fresh wrap choices, such as the succulent swordfish ($13.95), draped with rice, cabbage, tomatoes, and onion, and drenched in a homemade cream sauce. Hook'd on Fish also amalgamates fresh salads ($7.95–$12.95) that come crowned with succulent seafood, such as grilled shrimp ($9.95) or grilled salmon ($10.95). Outdoor seating is available, enhancing the rugged adventurousness of swallowing rare Ahi tunas whole.
Off the Hook Mexican Seafood Grill turns to the ocean for inspiration, substituting salsa for saltwater to create dishes that evoke the Mexican coastline. The seaside breeze that dances across the outdoor patio sets the mood for plates of grilled rockfish, golden-fried prawns, and tacos stuffed with tender lobster and salmon. Similarly, seafood burritos replace the traditional steak and chicken with grilled shrimp and the traditional tortilla with a fried navigational chart.