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L'ombretta
[closed, no longer in business]

1134 Chapala St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 965-4247

  • Category: Italian
  • Hours: Mon-Thu 5pm-Midnight, Fri-Sat 5pm-1am, Sun 5pm-10pm
  • Chef: Andrea Gros
  • Price: $10 - $20
  • Serving: Dinner
  • Reservations: Yes, recommended
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Reviews by the General Public

Muddy Salad
Reviewer: May Hines from Santa Barbara, CA
My first visit to the restaurant included a salad with a piece of mud in it--my companion hopefully thought that it was a truffle until he tried it and resoundingly agreed that yes, it was indeed mud. The lasagne that came with the salad was excellent though. The second visit most of the wines by the glass were sold out--unless they were $20 or higher. My date and I also felt that the price-to-amount ration of the small plates was poor and we left hungry, despite spending a good deal of money. We ended up at McConnel's too! This was a year ago, so maybe I need to give it another go, but first (and second!) impressions are hard to get over.


Lovely place....mmm and great wine!
Reviewer: Karen from Santa barbara, CA
They have a GREAT wine selection here....you will surely find something you like...and if you cant decide, the waitstaff is very helpfull! Ask them anything...they are soooo freindly....what a great relaxed and classy joint.......The sardines were very tasty...just like I like em....and yes the portions are small....but if you want it super-sized then go to micky dees...if you want good food in small but very tasty portions then come here. I was impressed with everything here and highly reccomend it.....oh but the mashed potatoes...not so good....maybe its the style..they are very smooth and tasteless....I personally like a little flavor in my tators....maybe just some butter....I couldnt taste any butter......thats it!


L'Ombretta is (aslmost) 1 year old!!!
Reviewer: Susanne & Andrea from Santa Barbara
(We can't give ourselves any stars so it doesn't count) Hello everyone, We are just a couple of weeks away from L'Ombretta first birthday and so much has already happened. So far, thanks to the wonderful residents of Santa Barbara, and visitors from other US cities and other countries, L'Ombretta has received some nice reviews and accolades: 2 1/2 Stars from Irene Virbila of the LA Times in February 2005 which has given our business a nationwide reach. One of the 25 Best "Cheap Eats" in California from the July 2005 LA Magazine. Mentioned on the August 2005 Food & Wine Magazine as great place where to drink lovely North East Italian wines and not your usual local Pinot Noir! Mentione on KABC Radio (LA) as one of the best spots in Southern California. (Sardines are a must!) NY TIMES August 31, 2005 as one (with the Hitching Post II) of the hottest dining spots of Santa Barbara by RW Apple NY TIMES Editor: (For the moment, the hot dining spots in these parts are L'Ombretta, a Venetian-style wine-bar-cum-restaurant, a block off the main drag, and the Hitching Post II, a steakhouse in Buellton, an hour north, which played a supporting role in "Sideways.") So far so good but there's a lot more coming your way.... Thank you Santa Barbara we would have not made it this far without your great support. Susanne & Andrea


The L'Ombretta Team opens Eclectico
Reviewer: Shelley from SB
I heard that Andrea and Susanne opened a cool new restaurant and pizzeria across from L'Ombretta. I can't wait to try it out! Shelley


one of the top restaurants on my list!
Reviewer: christina from Santa Barbara, CA
Last Friday I tried this restaurant for the first time. I had just gotten off of work myself and was excited to have heard about a nice restaurant that stays open late (1am!). I hadn't realized the place was all tapas and I was starving... however, I left the place more than satisfied! We ordered mixed olives with our first glass of wine, beet carpaccio with a light (I think) gorgonzola pesto glaze, a mozzarella, artichoke and arugula salad, I could go on... My guest and I shared five tapas (including a black cuttle fish risotto) and finished with a heavenly coffee tiramisu. And I haven't even mentioned the wine yet! The entire staff there offered excellent suggestions for the wine... we tried five different wines, roughly pairing them accordingly to the dish. (Note: you can try an amazing number of their wines by the glass or in 500ml, very cool...) One last thing, the entire time we were made to feel comfortable and welcome, even though for the last hour we were the only customers. And the bill wasn't at all unreasonable either. I can't wait to go back to this place to relax for a leisurely dinner, or a comfortable glass of wine.


Think Italian Tapas
Reviewer: Tobe Plough from Santa Barbara
This restaurant has no business being in Santa Barbara. You'd expect it to be in a much larger city like San Francisco or New York. The Italian wines are delightful. The food is creative and made from excellent ingredients. The servers are knowledgeable and friendly. Great ambiance! They are open late, which is convenient for post movie or concert meals. The ladies love it.


Waste of money
Reviewer: John Cristal from Goleta, Ca
What kind of sausage costs $12.00? The half of one L'Ombretta serves and cuts into six pieces. I know food costs and that 1/2 a sausage cost about $1.00. Our $22.00 cheese platter did not come with bread, is that how they eat cheese in Italy? I think the service is slow. My date and I were disappointed with our $34 worth of appetizers and our $50.00 of tasteless red wine.


a breath of fresh air in SB

To Negative Reviewers: Have a glass of wine, or three, and relax. To Everyone Else: Great Italian wine list. Helpful server. Good food. My kind of music. Great cheese platters. Love the ambiance. Your date will be impressed.


Whaaa Happened
Reviewer: Enzo Puliti from Santa Barbara
I had lunch here a few weeks ago and it was very delightful, the ingredients are fresh and of high quality. The wine list is excellent with many Italian choices not to be found anywhere else. The service though was just average. Then last night I went again with my girlfriend and the service was crap, one bartender/waiter and one hostess for the whole place! Hello.........what are you trying to save a dime on payroll! The calamari was like chewing on someone’s ear, but without the sensual gratification of a warm body attached to it. The bread was stale. My pasta special was delicious, but for $12.00 I expect more than a very small Prima Corsa portion. My dates "prawns" were more like crawdads, dry and with very little meat on them. We scurried out of there and hit McConnell´s for a big ole´ ice cream cone. Oh, BTW....BUY SOME CURTAINS!


Small portions, and almost no service

The atmosphere was great. The wait staff were all pleasant but they were overwhelmed and could not handle the tables. It is a wine bistro but we had to beg for wine. This was our first time and probably our last visit. The portions were irregular, some large some small, but all overpriced for what we received. If this is the food of Venice, that is a great place to go to lose weight! The porchetta was a large hunk of meat that appeared to be steamed. The fresh sardines were not very fresh. The sausage consisted of six small bits of sausage with some cabbage and onions. The menu was very hard to read and the wines were not paired with the dishes so getting an order together was a monumental task. Perhaps the owners would redo the menu with suggested wines for each of the dishes. Although we also found that a number of the wines were not available. Maybe the menu is too large, fewer choices with wine pairings and more wait staff would make this restaurant a match for the ambiance.


good wine, bad food

Yet another forgettable bar/cafe on this corner (a la "jojo"). We had a few glasses of wine and some appetizers here, since the owners reccommened treating it as a tapas bar more than a full restaurant. Fair enough. I tried the sea scallops and the rice-stuffed tomato. The tomato was brought out less than 2 minutes after I ordered them, which is not long enough to stuff & bake a tomato. It was definitely pre-prepared, bland, and not fresh. The scallops weren´t the best I´ve had, either, and the prices let me to expect much better quality that this. I think L´Ombretta is trying to get by on a concept - the quaint little Venetian wine bar - without putting the effort into the food.


Warm&Charming, Fine Wine&Cheeses for a sophisticated palate
Reviewer: Steve from Santa Barbara, CA
A unique treat for Santa Barbara. The wines present an interesting alternative to the familiar California wines that we have become habituated to. There are many choices by the glass or bottle at reasonable prices too. The cheese platters are excellent in their Italian authenticity and delicately unique taste. Truffle-laden cheeses and ice cream are a speciality and should not be missed. We haven´t tried dinner or lunch yet but having met the owners, we cannot imagine they would serve anything less than the best in genuine Italian style.


Fun to be back in Venice
Reviewer: Bill Yerkes from Santa Barbara
I enjoyed the Amarone wine (from Valpollacella area) which I haven´t had in a long time. I liked the large bowl Burgundy style glasses. We ordered two different plates and exchanged them, one cuddlefish in black ink with Polenta (spelled Poenta?) and my special with gnocci and venison ragu. Both were great and we finished our plates. Then desert was Afogato, ice cream with espresso coffee, excellent. My single espresso was also very very good. This is a welcome change from our favorites, Pan ´e Vino and Olio ´e Limone, and simpler. We are bringing friends back to enjoy it in a few days.


waste of time!

We waited 10 minutes before we were given menus, of which there were not enough of for our party of 6. We then waited and waited some more for the bottle of wine we ordered. Then waited some more. Food slowly started to arrive and was mediocre at best. Tiny itty bitty servings of mostly over cooked food. I cannot recommend this place at all. I will not go back. I left there feeling hungry and totally unsatisfied.


Forget this last reviewer; L´Ombretta ia oustanding!
Reviewer: The Fantastic Seven from SB CA
My friends and I have already been at L´Ombretta at least a dozen times since they opened a month, or so, ago. The place is cozy, intimate and romantic. We spent last Friday night at L´Ombretta and we had the best time ever. The food was aboslutely fantastic and the wine selection is very impressive; (although the list is made of only north-east italian wines). The owners are great people and so is the staff who happened to be Italian as well. If you lived or traveled in/to Europe this is the place for you. It is open late and they serve food and wine til the end. All seven of us enjoyed what we eat and especially the freedom of choosing the dishes and sharing them among friends. Ca Dario is definitely good, but it is the same old menu with the same old "rushy" and pushy service. Perhaps people should understand that L´Ombretta is a wine bar and not a restaurant and therefore they should not expect giant portions such as those served at many local (SB) restaurants. (Yuk) Great for ladies (no beer dudes here) and for those people who love simle and tasty food paired with great wines and a joyful atmosphere. Signed: The Fantastic Seven


Great place for a fun dining experience

I almost totally disagree with the last two posters. We were there last Saturday night and although the place was full of happy patrons I must admit that the temperature was a bit cool. I was informed that they have been waiting for the final approval from the city to get the HAVC system up and running. Anyway, as I was saying, we had a great experience at L´Ombretta; starting from the selection of delicious Tre Venezia wines, (not Chianti..that comes from Tuscany), and they start at a very reasonable price. Then we ordered several plates of tasty food which we shared among the four of us. We absolutely loved the polenta with gorgonzola dolce, the cured meats and the risotto di branzino was soooo good we ordered it twice. Yes, the waitress´s English is not so good, but we had no problem understanding her and she was extremely helpful with all our questions. We are definitely going back this week and with more friends. Fiona B.


You have to be kidding Lou - are you related or what!!!

Lou - you have to be kidding with your rave review!! This was the worst dining experience we have ever had in the world and that includes Africa!!! First,we had a waitress who could not speak English, so communication was impossible. Second, there was no wine menu - "we´re working on it." Third, it was suggested that we sample the wine first, samples costs $2 each - that´s what they said - however the bill showed $4 each. Then, we were given the suggestion of a type of wine, and a glass was brought to us, which tasted exactly like Chianti. However, we were never informed what wine we were drinking. It is all too mysterious since they are wines from the specific region on Veneto??? WHATEVER!!!! Then, our bill comes. We were charged $4.00 each for 2 sample glasses of wine that were the size of one shot of alcohol. Then, to make matters worse, the wine that they had poured us, was $12 and $14 a glass - never did they mention this to us upon ordering the "Chianti" want-to-be wine!!! Let´s see how long this place lasts. Good luck. If you do happen to go there, order the Salami and Gorgonzola with cream of wheat - that´s the extent of it!!! Have fun. Signed: very disappointed patron


A word about L´Ombretta!
Reviewer: Lou from Santa Barbara, CA
I have been in this town only for a few months. My wife and I have moved from NYC and we love good food and good wine. In the past few months we have been dining out quite a lot and with mixed results. As native New Yorker, I find myself wondering why so many SB restaurant owners don´t care about the meaning of the word "quality". I mean, food, service and fair pricing. So here we go, last night my wife said "let´s go to this new venetian place"; apparently another New Yorker told her that it is fantastic. We arrived at L´Ombretta around 8 pm and a large party was leaving, thank God, and they seemed very happy. We sat at the bar and asked to tell us a quick story about the place and the idea behind it and we were told that it was in the owners mind for quite some time and that they opened also because they felt that Santa Barbara was missing a place like this one. How refreshing is that? Coming form NYC you can imagine how we feel about SB late night dining experience. What late night dining??? Do you know how many times we have been told "sorry the kitchen is closed" at 9 pm on a Thursday or even Friday!!!!! Anyway, the owner suggests a good wine by the glass and also (if we want) many tasting by a smaller glass called guess what? Ombretta! Then we move to the food and we try several items on the menu, tapas like, and they are all absolutely fantastic. I mean, they taste as closed as Italian cooking as it can be. We also meet a nice young couple sitting next to us and the gentleman happens to be Remi the ex-Chef at Bacara. I heard of him when he was in NYC with Daniel Bolud and I understand that he is highly respected in this town and that soon he will open his own restaurant somehwere in SB. My wife and I watch him carefully for what he orders, cuttelfish stew with polenta, wild rabbit in amarone, pork loin with porcini and other delicious mini-dishes. They both seem very happy about the food and the plates returned to the kitchen pretty cleaned and polished, just like ours, and he tells the owner Andre? that the food is outstanding along with a great white wine. In the end we leave and we say goodbye but we promise to tell everyone we know to go to L´Ombretta because this guys will go very far if they stick to the great simplicity and authenticity of their food, wine and charm. The place look beautiful, very cozy and romantic, (my wife says) and extremely inviting. My wife and I lived in Paris for ten years and frequently went to Italy, (up and down), hundreds of time and I must say that in the entire city of SB there´s nothing more charming as this cute place and especially delicious as the food of L´Ombretta. I asked many questions and they were all answered; refreshing uh? We are going back Saturday for dinner and we might swing by tonight after the opera for a chicheto? and an ombretta de good vino! Lou & Jen Garner PS: Try the prosciuto de san danielle, the fabulous cheese selection and the many chicheti displayed at the counter. If we had a rating system on this site I would give L´Ombretta a five star! Good job guys and lots of good luck!


Great for the first week!
Reviewer: Molly from Summerland, USA
My husband and I found L´ombretta by accident while walking down Anapamu Street the other day, and we noticed a brand new place. We decided to give it a try and I´m glad we did! They had just been open a few days and were still working on getting things just right, but I couldn´t tell. The food was great as was the wine - very interesting wine list. It´s run by a husband and wife team who are really nice and seem to be very involved with all aspects. We will be back soon.


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