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“La Balena: Calfornia fresh meets a true Italian geniusin Carmel” 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 #14 of 151 Restaurants in Carmel
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Reservations
San Francisco, California
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“La Balena: Calfornia fresh meets a true Italian geniusin Carmel”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 19, 2013

I've dined at La Balena five times since it opened in Carmel, and I have only had amazingly wonderful food there. My family followed owners Immanuelli (joined by his brilliant wife Anna) to La Balena from Luca restaurant and market in Carmel, which he deveIoped for other owners. Immanuelli also worked for Mario Batelli in NYC.

Now , in starting his own restaurant, Immanuelli is a true creative genius, blending the fresh, local bounty of area farms with his favorite Italian comfort foods. The small dining room and lovely outdoor deck feel like a cozy clubhouse where you can enjoy your entrees. Our favorite: the fried chicken, with the crispest, lightest crust we have ever had.

  • Visited June 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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105 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    70
    20
    7
    4
    4
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Breckenridge, Colorado
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Excellent Octopus Appetizer”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2013

I would highly recommend this restaurant. The food was delicious, especially the octopus appetizer which had a rich, smokey taste.Service was good, but not outstanding. Try not to be seated in the dining area next to the kitchen as it gets smoky from the grill.

  • Visited October 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mattapoisett, Massachusetts
Top Contributor
67 reviews 67 reviews
58 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Charming little restaurant”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2013

Visited La Balena recently because of the good reviews. Though we enjoyed setting, the meal was sort of average. I tried the Tagliatelle Nere. The pasta was unusual to say the least and I thought it was an odd pairing with fairly delicate seafood. Maybe I'm just not into `California Italian'.
We sat in the rear patio which is fairly cramped quarters to begin with, but a party of 6 or 7 had to squeeze in through a backdoor opening and with dogs in tow. I think I'll skip this one next time I'm in Carmel.

  • Visited September 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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1 review
“Nightmare!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2013 via mobile

Wrong entre was delivered. Waiter then asked if I wanted another entree, which also was not what I ordered,
By time my food arrived(just pasta) my date was partially done and remainder cold as a glacier.

Waiter not helpful when I pointed this out,

For$160 you expect what you order and for both orders to arrive at the same time, it was Judy pasta in cream sauce

Stay away

  • Visited October 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
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Carmel, California, United States
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
34 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Never got served - totally ignored”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2013

We went to La Balena because of the good reviews. After sitting down, we waited for at least 10 minutes and the waiter could not be bothered to even approach our table. He was too enamored of another table where we could hear him explaining the menu items, the wine list, and all of the other details. The food might be good (we never found out) but there are so many restaurants in Carmel which provide excellent service why bother with one that does not.

  • Visited September 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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