O + O Sicilian Kitchen opened two weeks ago, and since I’ve had a craving for pasta, meatballs and all things Italian, I decided I must check this spot out.

O + O Sicilian Kitchen
1705 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401
http://oosantamonica.com

The Mistaken
The Mistaken

Right when I walked in, I fell in love with O + O right off the bat, because its atmosphere is the perfect blend of neighborhood haunt meets date night. I love spots that are somewhere in between casual and formal (can’t they all be like that?). My friend Meagan (@caffeineaddictfoodie) and I bellied up to the bar for a night packed with delicious eats and drinks.

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Bar Manager Sam

We lucked out and Sam (@samhatley), the Bar Manager, who created the cocktail menu, was bartending and allowed Meagan and me to pick his brain on the drinks (which we did a lot of). We were able to try a lot of the cocktails (don’t panic, we took Lyft) and here are our favorites:

My Top Cocktail Picks:
1.) La Matcha Vita – Mezcal, Matcha, Mint, Ginger, Lemon. Has a lemony, sweet start and a bold, smokey finish.
2.) The Oakey – Perfecto Mundo Reposado, Cinque, Mandarinetto, Blood Orange Juice. Lots of citrus and smokiness throughout sips.

La Matcha Vita
La Matcha Vita

Meagan’s Top Cocktail Picks:
1.) Sicilian Mule – Vodka, Lime, Ginger, Basil, Blood Orange. Perfect for Moscow Mule lovers, crisp flavor with a ginger kick.
2.) The Mistaken – Cynar, Hibiscus, Prosecco, Blood Orange. Similar to a Negroni, with a dark berry flavor.

Sicilian Mule
Sicilian Mule

The menu is packed with pizzas, pasta, seafood, meat, salad and more. There’s literally something for everyone. After trying many of the items on the menu, prepared by Chef De Cuisine Gianluca Maita, here are our picks for an ideal dinner for 2 (if you’re like us and want to eat everything in sight):

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Crudo of the Day – Hamachi

Crudo of the Day: Our catch of the day was Hamachi. They toss the fish in a red chili, mint, cilantro, pine nut, lemon juice mix and topped it with an olive oil drizzle. It was light and fresh but note – it changes daily, so there could be different batch for you.

Fried Stuffed Olives: These are green olives, stuffed with scamorza cheese, breaded and fried, then served with a side of caper aioli. Once we popped, we couldn’t stop! It’s an ample portion for 2 to split, but we still wanted more!

Fried Stuffed Olives
Fried Stuffed Olives

Anduja Sautee Mussels: I could swim in this broth! The base is made with a spreadable, spicy Italian sausage, which adds a meatier flavor to the mussels. You will want to soak the bread in this sauce and clean the plate.

Steam Mussels
Anduja Sautee Mussels

Chicken and Mushroom Meatballs: I know this isn’t a classic Sicilian dish (purists should order the Classic Meatballs, which are made with ground sirloin) but it was my favorite item of the night. The meatballs are plump and juicy, and the mushroom sauce reminded me of cream of mushroom soup. I also appreciate any dish with thyme- it’s an underrated, subtle herb that I can’t get enough of. It’s a very rich dish, with three medium sized meatballs, perfect for 2 to share.

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Chicken and Mushroom Meatballs

Squid Ink Linguine: This savory pasta dish had clams, squid, prawns, mussels and mixed with cherry tomatoes in a white wine sauce. The sauce is garlic-ey, zesty from lemon and herbal. This is my idea of a perfect comfort meal, Italian style.

Squid Ink Linguiene
Squid Ink Linguine

Cannoli: You can’t go to a Sicilian restaurant and skip cannoli! One order comes with three different creams; vanilla, pistachio, and chocolate. Their fried pastry dough keeps crisp even when stuffed with cream, so it doesn’t lose that anticipated crunch. They’re a must!

Cannoli
Cannoli

SECRET COCKTAIL ALERT!  

Sam made us the perfect coffee dessert cocktail. Meagan, who’s a coffee aficionado, notes that this is the only coffee cocktail she’s ever loved. That’s saying a lot!

HERE’S THE HITCH- it’s not currently on the menu.

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Caffettoso

So, if Sam is bartending, be sure to order a Caffettoso – Espresso, Vodka, Averna, Kailua with a Lemon zest.

As this cocktail is shaken, it creates a creamy foam that gives it a coffee shop taste. The first sip of the Caffettoso cocktail is the only time I’ve ever enjoyed citrus with coffee. It’s the perfect after-dinner cocktail, especially if you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to commit to pastry. Let’s get it on the menu! Be sure to mention you read about it on Girls on Food when you order one.

Meagan and I were beyond full after this, so we didn’t have room to try the pizzas. I kept staring with envy at the man seated next to me who had a pizza all to himself. Next time!

O + O is still a new restaurant, but the food, cocktails, atmosphere and service, lead you think they’ve been around for years. I look forward to making O + O my new go-to for comfort Italian food and watching them grow (even though they’ve set the bar pretty high for themselves already!)

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