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“Wonderful Italian Classics”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of La Balena

La Balena
Ranked #33 of 156 Restaurants in Carmel
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Italian, Mediterranean
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions, Local cuisine, Families with children
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Pebble beach
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Wonderful Italian Classics”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 18, 2013

Everything we ordered was delicious, from the osso bucco to the gnocchi. We sat outside in the little courtyard.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank BarbaraV453
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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248 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    154
    57
    17
    13
    7
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Fallbrook
Level Contributor
44 reviews
38 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“We were looking for something new and found this little Gem”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 9, 2013

What a delightful luncheon experience! This quaint and charming restaurant was a pleasant respite away from the maddening crowds often found in Carmel. .l had grilled octopus with warm potatoes,anchovy aioli & sweet chili oil and my wife had a marvelous Tripe stew that embodied flavors we found in Tuscany. My only wish would be for larger servings or perhaps since the dishes were so outstanding, I should order two of each next time

Unfortunately, because of our schedule we were not able to return an dine there in the evening and sample some of their other interesting offerings.

This little Gem will be at the top of our list when next return to the area next year.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank godzillabob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
La Paz, Mexico
Level Contributor
51 reviews
33 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“AN Italian GEM in a Sea of Mediocrity”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 7, 2013

Carmel by the Sea beautiful as it is has for the most part suffered from an abundance of Traditional unimaginative cuisine.
This was my fourth visit to the restaurant and it just keeps on getting better. We sat outside in the back area YES outside in Carmel! Lovely evening heat lamps to take the chill away and amongst the trees, al fresco as it be.
Manuele the owner always as is his staff friendly and suggestive. They pride themselves on locally sourced and fresh ingredients. All the pasta from the pillow soft gnocchi to the melt in your mouth paparedelle is house made. The Osso Bucco rivals the best of NY or SF and compares favorably to Italy itself. The beef, lamb and fish preparations all shine as these guys go way beyond the pedestrian offerings of nearby Carmel wannabes

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank LAPgolf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
13 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Excellent food, nice slightly out of way”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 6, 2013

Well prepared with an attractive wine selection. Small plates with many selections. Excellent for lunch or dinner. Seating outside or in. Make reservation especially for evening.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
Thank lovetravelingtheworl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Monterey, California
Level Contributor
124 reviews
75 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Hitting its stride!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 24, 2013

I went to La Balena some weeks ago with friends, after an amazing amount of 'buzz' and while not really disappointed it was a work in progress.
Well, I went back with the same friends plus my daughter (who works with/for an executive chef---and she is critical!) ...La Balena was terrific! No punches to pull....seated immediately and greeted warmly by the owner (who was under the weather on our last visit.)
VERY fairly priced wine by the glass....and a fine wine list to go with it. I had a delicious grilled polpo...followed by a pasta with wild boar-- and it was as good as anything I've eaten on my nearly dozen trips to Italy.
My wife has a rustic, delicious fava soup, and then a nettles pasta...wonderful earthy, mushrooms, ...my daughter had a seabass crudo, our friends a mixed salad. Chicken and THE LIGHTEST (she let me taste) gnocchi with a great oxtail sugo that I can ever recall....coffee and gelato and vanilla ice-cream topped off a wonderful dining experience---from start to finish.
THIS was the new restaurant that I wanted to eat at last time and if they can maintain these standards we'll be back often--and we'll go hungry and NOT leave that way!
It's as close to fine Italian trattoria as I've been to in America. (To be honest, we've had some SUPERB meals at Peppoli @ Spanish Bay ----but I realize that it's not the experience everyone has there----but La Balena is so approachable...I hope they can keep it up!)

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank CaPalm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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