photo credit: Holly Liss

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Santa Monica

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysCasual Weeknight DinnerCorporate CardsDate NightDinner with the ParentsFirst/Early in the Game DatesImpressing Out of Towners

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Italian restaurants on Montana Avenue are like actors in Los Angeles: They’re everywhere. All believe they have talent. Few become George Clooney. But in the already packed Italian scene that is Montana Avenue, it’s safe to say that Forma is well on it’s way to locking down a hot British lawyer wife and a vacation home in Lake Como.

Like most Italian joints of its kind, Forma nails the staples. But what makes this modern, unstuffy spot such a rarity is that it also satisfies that annoying friend who’s trying to be “good,” when all you want is a straight carb-fest.

Because at Forma, there’s hardly a weak spot on the menu. Everything from their starter charcuterie/cheese combos, to authentic al dente pastas, to main entrees is worth ordering and will keep everyone (even always-on-a-diet Marissa) happy. And despite its contemporary feel, Forma still exudes plenty of quirkiness. There’s a guy walking around solely dedicated to scraping cheese from gigantic blocks onto your bubbling feast, known simply as the “cheese scraper”. Go figure. We tried to talk to him and he only responded with “Milano.” We guess that’s Italian for don’t question my f*cking cheese cred.

Something about Forma’s casual, not-cheesy vibe has quickly made it one of the most popular spots with locals. Perhaps it’s the joyous absence of screaming kids and belligerent cougar moms, but the energy inside Forma is appealing. Is this the best new date spot in Santa Monica? Well, it certainly beats the wait-and-hover situation at Father’s Office or the Viagra jacuzzi that is the neighboring Hillstone restaurant. So yes. It is. Definitely make a reservation beforehand as the space is small and fills up quickly. Attention: The spot for young people on Montana Ave. has finally arrived.

Take us now, George.

Food Rundown

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Basically hot grilled rustic bread doused in oil with an oil spread. We know, weird to pay for bread, but it’s worth it.
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Fresh Mozzarella Knots

Mozzarella tied into tiny knots topped with a shitload of seasoning and oil. So yeah, you’re ordering it.
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Because we needed to feel healthy. And so does your friend.
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Pizza Bread

Don’t let its name fool you, this is pizza and is loaded with delicious prosciutto.
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Spaghetti “Cacio E Pepe”

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Filet of Sole

Bread crumbs, crispy (i.e. fried) artichokes, and that perfectly sweet and buttery sole. A surprising must-order.
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Applewood Grilled Faroe Island Salmon

Rice crust, red and white quinoa, dill sauce. Your friend just died and went to heaven.
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Banana Tart

And now so did you.

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Suggested Reading

All'Acqua image


All'acqua has solid, if slightly underwhelming cocktail and salad menus, but they set the course for some absolutely magical entrees. When taken as a whole, it makes for a more than solid meal.

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For Italian food in Los Angeles, it still doesn’t get any better than Bestia in the Arts District.

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The Father’s Office burger (in Santa Monica and Culver City) is amazing. If you don’t know that, you don’t get it.

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Tar & Roses continues to be one of the most dependable restaurants on the Westside.

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