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“REAL, AUTHENTIC Italian Food!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of La Balena

La Balena
Junipero between 5th and 6th, West Side, Carmel, CA
831.250.6295
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Ranked #9 of 127 Restaurants in Carmel
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Italian, Pub
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast, Reservations
Nutley, New Jersey
Level Contributor
29 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“REAL, AUTHENTIC Italian Food!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2013

We are foodies. We live in Northeast and eat regularly in Manhattan. We've also been to Italy. There is a certain level of excellence we expect from our Italian food... and this place totally hit the mark. After a very poor meal at a different Italian place in Carmel on our first night there... we tried La Balena on our second night. The restaurant was packed but we were offered a table on their private outdoor patio right away. It was a cold night but their outdoor heaters kept us comfortable throughout our meal. I love seeing lardo on a menu! It's like a green flag telling me that the chef is Italian! The octopus app was truly amazing and PERFECTLY cooked (which isnt easy when it comes to octopus). Our desserts were also fantastic (I ordered two and I'm proud of it). We talked with the owner at length after our meal. He knows his stuff, has worked for well-known chefs (Battali), and understands the way real Italian food should taste. I can't say enough about this place... it felt like a little slice of home in Carmel. Don't miss it. It's truly authentic.

Visited June 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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163 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    107
    33
    11
    6
    6
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
59 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Very good food, big portions”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2013

Had the fried chicken and pasta with salads. Very good, fresh ingredients all around. $130 for two with wine, taxes, tip.

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jacksonville, Florida
Level Contributor
139 reviews
92 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Small but wonderful”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2013

Walking in we weren't expecting very much. Very few inside tables and a very limited menu but everything we tried was wonderful. The staff was very attentive and very professional. The restaurant was recommended to us by the Tickle Pink Inn. It was great!

  • Visited June 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lexington, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
145 reviews
52 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 78 helpful votes
“Felt like I was in Tuscany”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2013

We lived in Italy for 2 years and I can be a snob when it comes to Italian food- especially Italian cuisine labeled as Tuscan. My husband took me here for my birthday and it was AMAZING! We happened there on a night of free wine tasting which was also great. We ended up sharing the table with the part owner of the vineyard that was doing the tasting. So, we ended up eating typical family style and shared each other's plates. My husband ordered the pairing menu, which was an amazing value. I had the boar pasta- oh my, my mouth is watering, thinking of it now as I write this. Upon finding out it was my birthday the served us little glasses of prosecco to go with a huge slice of the most amazing chocolate cake. The whole night took me back to Italy and it was perfect.

  • Visited May 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paso Robles, California
Level Contributor
12 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Octopus like I've never had”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2013

I've had octopus prepared a number of ways, but the way that they prepared it was absolutely fabulous. Next time I'll order my own appetizer of octopus, because splitting the order with the wife left us both wanting more.
The meal was a great experience in this small, restaurant. I had the Oso Buco and my wife had the fresh, local salmon which were both prepared excellently.
Service was excellent! The only draw back would be the tight seating, but that won't keep me from returning. For a meal like the one we had, I'd eat it in a phone booth.

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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