Santa Monica Seafood: Expanding Oceanic Offerings

Oyster Bar Los Angeles

An oyster bar is part of Santa Monica Seafood’s multifaceted business.

For a coastal city, Los Angeles has a disappointing selection of seafood restaurants. Sure, we have extravagant seafood temples like Providence and Water Grill, but at the street level, there hasn’t been much to look forward to, until now. The Cigliano family hosted a February 5 media dinner, leaving little doubt that when Santa Monica Seafood opens to the public on February 16, the family-run market and cafe will deliver an excellent casual experience.

Gerald Cigliano and Jack Deluca started Santa Monica Seafood on Santa Monica Pier in 1939. The family business has been located on Colorado Boulevard since 1969. Michael Cigliano, his sister and four brothers recently combined a nearby nail salon and Carl’s Jr. to add greater variety, a market-driven and parking,

A bar molded to look like a fishing boat? A chandelier made from a Dungeness crab pot? Drop-down lights shaped like jellyfish? Santa Monica Seafood makes it clear that seafood is the focus.

Order oysters at the raw bar using a checklist. Five varieties are listed each day on the blackboard. Order at the register from the overhead menu.

Seafood Los Angeles

The raw bar isn’t just about oysters. You’ll also find clams and shrimp on ice.

Oysters Los Angeles

Clockwise from the bottom, witness Hama Hama (WA), Fanny Bay (Vancouver), Kumamoto (Northern California) and Malpeque (Prince Edward Island) oysters.

Seafood Los Angeles

Santa Monica seafood features three kinds of crudo, Italian-style raw fish. Hamachi ($9) was my favorite, featuring silky slices of pink Japanese yellowtail treated with julienne radish, extra virgin olive oil and crunchy sea salt granules.

Seafood Los Angeles

Salmon Crudo ($9) utilized melt-in-your-mouth Scottish Loch Duart salmon sheets, shallots, ruby red grapefruit, grapefruit olive oil and a dill garnish. Ingredients were clearly high quality, but the overall flavor was too sweet.

Seafood Los Angeles

Ahi Tuna Crudo ($9) was more balanced, combining rosy ahi strips treated to lemon oil, crisp fennel shavings, tangy capers and chives.

Seafood Los Angeles

Pan Roasted Striped Bass ($16) was my night’s only entrée, served skin on and plated with light tomato puree. The fish was moist and firm, but the skin could have been crisper. On the side: grilled radicchio tossed with balsamic vinegar.

Italian Dessert Los Angeles

Tiramisu ($6) was fluffy and balanced, minus the overpowering liquor-soaked flavor of lesser versions.

Italian Dessert Los Angeles

OLYMPUS DIGITAL Cannoli ($6) were the night’s only letdown. The ricotta filling was just fine, but they could have used crisper shells and some contrast. Maybe crushed pistachios at either end.

Sam Smith Organic Ale (England) ($5) offered a smooth sip that didn’t overpower the seafood. Pinkus Hefeweizen ($7) was too watery.

Westsiders are lucky to have such an exciting addition to the local dining scene. My only gripe so far: it’s 45 minutes away. With any luck, the market and café will do well enough to convince the Ciglianos to open an Eastside outpost.

Santa Monica Seafood: Expanding Oceanic Offerings


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

i am surely a huge fan of seafood. if you think about health benefits also together with the pleasant taste is amazing stuff.

The Salmon Crudo with ruby red grapefruit looks so good!

Leave a Comment