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“Excellent and Innovative Italian” 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 #28 of 156 Restaurants in Carmel
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Families with children
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Seaside, California
Level Contributor
126 reviews
79 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Excellent and Innovative Italian”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 4, 2013

Wonderful restaurant with great outdoor seating in back and in front. The octopus with melon was one of the best appetizers I have ever had. We shared the osso buco which was made with lamb instead of veal and topped with a mint gremolata. Different and delicious. The wine list was very interesting and reasonably priced. The portions are very large and we shared the octopus and the lamb and were quite satisfied. The olive oil served with the bread is also excellent. I'd recommend this restaurant to anyone. It is especially friendly to dogs and they put out water for them.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank SuzC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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223 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    140
    50
    15
    11
    7
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Nutley, New Jersey
Level Contributor
29 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 48 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
Helpful?
1 Thank Beng55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
62 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 25 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
Helpful?
1 Thank SydH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jacksonville, Florida
Level Contributor
215 reviews
135 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 48 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
Helpful?
1 Thank Peter B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fairfax, Virginia
Level Contributor
145 reviews
52 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Felt like I was in Tuscany”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 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
Helpful?
1 Thank ebbosse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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