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 di vitello comes in several varieties—basted in wine, with fresh-chopped tomatoes, or with asparagus 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.
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.
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.
When it comes to making a positive first impression, the Sunset Restaurant doesn’t dawdle: it greets guests with a sprawling view of the Pacific horizon. Located on a secluded chunk of Zuma Beach, and just a few steps or somersaults away from the ocean, the restaurant continues to stun patrons throughout their visits by surrounding tables with equally stunning coastal views. In Sunset’s pristine, white dining room, large windows look out onto the beach while dates and groups sit down to plates of seafood pasta, grilled filet mignon, and wild langostinos flown in from New Zealand. Away from its casual dining spaces, the facility also boasts elegantly decorated bars and private event rooms for hosting special occasions, including weddings.
Seasoned by 39 years of sea cookery, Oyster House Saloon's chefs summon the fruits of the ocean into a menu of saltwater treasures. Slurp down the briny juices of four oyster shooters, not to be confused with the ammo-slinging shooter oyster. Seafood-stuffed calamari steak entrees ride waves of pasta, and fryer-kissed frog legs simmer in garlicky linguini. House wines crushed from grapes such as chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot harmonize with entree flavors, performing sea-shanty covers of "Hotel California."
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.