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“Deliziosa!”
Review of La Balena

La Balena
Ranked #37 of 159 Restaurants in Carmel
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Tinley Park, Illinois
Level Contributor
16 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Deliziosa!”
Reviewed May 9, 2014

This was one of the best meals we had on a 7 night trip that started in San Francisco and finished in Santa Barbara. Following the reviews of this restaurant in Trip Advisor I booked a reservation for the 4 of us for the Saturday night we were in Monterey/Carmel. I was NOT disappointed. After some confusion over the reservation the very accommodating staff was able to seat us quickly. The restaurant is small and cozy with the tables in close proximity. It almost feels like you're dining in someone's house as it is very small and you literally walk in the kitchen to use the bathroom. Despite the close quarters we found the ambiance relaxing and charming and the food was exceptionally fresh and delicious. We started with a nice bruschette and a cauliflower dish that changed the way I'll look at cauliflower forever (fried to a char with pine nuts, currants and chili pepper). After that we shared a couple of salads (insalada arancia and insalade gemma) which were both excellent. I tried the rustic beef bolegnese pasta which was awesome. The wine selections were nice and reasonably priced as well. Nice dining experience.

  • Visited April 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank BSM57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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253 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    159
    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
Carmel, California
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Forza Florentina!”
Reviewed May 7, 2014

La Balena is the best restaurant between LA and SF and not to be missed! Crossing the threshold was like stepping off a plane to Tuscany. The food is delicious, traditional, thoughtful and local. The host and hostess make every single le visitor part of their extended family, through their warm, personable and caring service. The wine list is carefully crafted, reasonably priced and studded with smaller wineries (Cali and Italy) remarkable bottles.
I have eaten and thoroughly enjoyed every thing on the menu and am ready for Round 2.

  • Visited April 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank DAVIDinCarmel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dayton, Ohio
Level Contributor
40 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Great flavors, so-so atmosphere”
Reviewed May 3, 2014 via mobile

Charming and small, but lacks a cozy atmosphere. The food, however makes up for what it lacks in atmosphere. It was unique, full of flavor, and farm to table fresh! We recommend this restaurant for an off beaten path experience!

  • Visited May 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank lbgdayton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lafayette, California
Level Contributor
81 reviews
48 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Fantastic”
Reviewed May 1, 2014

What a gem. We had the most wonderful meals and the owner personally greeted us. We have been coming to Carmel for years and have a few favorite restaurants but this is our new favorite. I had the fresh fish of the day which was marvelous. My husband had a boar pappardelle pasta which was fabulous as well. We had an Italian wine which was perfect.

  • Visited April 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Carolyn S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Annapolis, Maryland
Level Contributor
202 reviews
80 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Incredible farm to table Italian”
Reviewed April 18, 2014

We arrived for our reservation and had to wait 25 minutes. I was not impressed with that aspect, but we were given glasses of Prosecco and that was a nice touch. It's cozy and has close seating arrangements and makes for friendly conversation with your neighbors. I did have a fabulous meal of Agnolotti Neri which is Dungeness crab, halibut and white beans in a squid ink ravioli. It was superb! We had already eaten appetizers before arriving so didn't order any. We had a great conversation with the owner, Emanuele Bartolini and he is from Florence, my favorite city. He is very gregarious and took great care of us. We all shared a Panna Cota that was so rich and creamy and heavenly! The desserts are flown in from Italy.

  • Visited April 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Gigglebelly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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