Santa Monica Natives Get a Taste of Sicily
Written By: Veronica An
Photographed By: Ryan Hensley O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar
There’s just something about the beach that encourages everyone to take a deep breath and enjoy life. The beach town vibes in Santa Monica make the perfect setting for savoring a fresh, flavorful meal and creative cocktails. Just a short stroll from the beach, you’ll find the ideal location to relax and appreciate a fine meal. O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar brings California-influenced Sicilian food near Ocean Avenue and Olympic Drive. This chic restaurant boasts an outdoor patio perfect for happy hour, bar seating for after dinner drinks, and high top tables ideal for a full meal.
O+O mixes laid-back beach style with classy interiors and a Sicilian-inspired menu. Take a seat inside if you’re feeling chilly, but the best seats in the house are outside. In keeping with the laid-back chic vibe, O+O’s menu is simple but refined. Their menu isn’t what you would find at a generic Italian restaurant. Sure, there’s pizza, pasta, and meatballs, but the focus is on nuanced flavors, fresh seafood, and bright flavors—not huge portions of tired spaghetti.
Each order comes with three meatballs making them a hearty appetizer or perfect side for sharing. Choose from tender Classic Beef Meatballs with tomato sauce, basil, and pecorino or Chicken and Mushroom Meatballs with cream sauce and thyme. Vegetarians can even get in on the fun with Classic Arancino, lightly fried rice croquettes made with vegetarian pea, tomato ragu, and mozzarella. These crispy arancini pair well with red wines, listed as Rosso, on the menu.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with pizza. O+O’s thin crust pies come with a flavorful selection of toppings that make for a satisfying meal. Try the Vegetariana Pizza bursting with artichokes hearts, garlicky spinach, thinly sliced eggplant, capers, and tomato sauce. If you’re in the mood for something more unique, order the Pistachio Pizza. While this may sound like an outlandish concept, this delicately balanced pizza will change your mind. This pie comes topped with mozzarella, pistachio cream, mortadella, and shaved parmesan. Pizza and wine are an unbeatable pair. Make the most of O+O’s wine program by ordering a Sicilian wine like the Pinot Grigio from Veneto, Italy.
O+O also offers a special happy hour menu, which includes a selection of small plates and cocktails. Favorites like the Fried Olives and Classic Arancino are on the menu, including items like the Pizzolos. These calzone-style bites come filled with ricotta spinach, and rapini or with mushrooms, mozzarella, and arugula. Score deals on Red Seal, prosecco, or some of O+O’s signature cocktails. Order a bubbly Aperol Spritz made with Aperol, prosecco, and club soda or a summery Vincenzo, made with raspberry, galliano, pistachio, midori, and coconut. These drink and food pairings make the perfect start to your evening.
At O+O, it’s hard to make a choice you won’t be deliciously pleased with. From the refined flavors to the chic decor, this restaurant makes it clear that California cool and Sicilian style make the perfect pairing.
Q&A With Owner and Executive Chef Georgi Yaneff and Chef de Cuisine Gianluca Maita
Q: What are the characteristics of Sicilian food (versus other styles of Italian food)?
Gianluca Maita: We wanted to bring a bit of Sicily to Santa Monica. O+O is a twist between California and Sicilian food.
Georgi Yaneff: I’ve always been in love with Sicilian food and wanted to open a restaurant here. The climate [between Sicily and Santa Monica] is similar so we can get fresh local ingredients like tomatoes and pistachios here.
Q: How does O+O set itself apart from other Italian restaurants in LA?
GM: Sicilian food isn’t that different from other Italian food but there are North African influences in the food.
GY: It’s a fusion of Mediterranean and North African flavors.
Q: What dish are you most proud of and why?
GY: My favorites are the couscous, the Artichoke Salad, and the Pistachio Pizza.
GM: Our meatballs are a very traditional recipe. They taste like home. The Sicilian Parmigiana is also a must try.
Q: What can guests look forward to on the menu?
GY: We keep our menu as seasonal as possible and are looking forward to adding asparagus and stone fruits.
Q: What makes for a good food and cocktail pairing?
GY: Some of the hand crafted cocktails like The Oakey. Also, the best wines to pair with food are [wines] from the region that the food is from. Our Sicilian wines pair well with our small plates, pizzas, and main courses. For example, our white wines pair well with the seafood dishes.
Q: What inspires your cocktail menu? Your wine and beer lists?
GY: We chose Sicilian wines to go with Sicilian foods but also have some California wines on the list too.
Q: In your opinion, what makes a great meal?
GM: Without good food, there cannot be a good meal. Good company, good wine, and good weather make a meal.
GY: Fresh ingredients, a love of what you’re doing, great wine or drinks, and taking the time to enjoy it.
What’s in a Name: The name O+O stands for the cross streets of the restaurants—Ocean Avenue and Olympic Drive.
Bi-Coastal: Owner and Executive Chef, Georgi Yaneff, and Gianluca Maita, Chef de Cuisine, met in London in 2011.
O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar
1705 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
A Taste of Sicily from O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar