Saturday, 26 March 2011 01:57

Rosti Tuscan Kitchen - vegan and gluten-free Italian food in Santa Monica & Encino, CA

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Last spring I reviewed Rosti Tuscan Kitchen's location in Encino and loved their food. This spring I am thrilled to review their location in Santa Monica because of their new vegan and gluten-free menus! Yes, they have added 2 menus - one that is completely vegan and the other gluten-free, and luckily you can combine the two if you're both like me. Don't mean to pat myself on the back too hard, but the owner told me he was inspired to do the vegan menu after my visit to the restaurant last year because I asked why vegan items weren't marked on the existing menu. : )

When you visit either one of Rosti's locations you can ask for one or both of the new menus. If you're vegan you'll be thrilled to see the phrase, "All Items On This Menu Are 100% Vegan" and that the vegan symbol is proudly stamped all over! Both menus are double-sided, providing lots of delicious options no matter what your dietary preference. Take a look and ask the waitstaff if you can make a vegan dish gluten-free, and the answer will most likely be yes - they can usually change out the regular pasta with the corn & rice based gluten-free pasta.

It was hard for me to narrow it down, but the owner (Kevin) helped me decide on what to get.

I enjoyed:

  1. Lentil Soup ~ delicious with just the right amount of salt
  2. Harvest Salad ~ crunchy, sweet, perfect amount of dressing
  3. Beet Salad ~ bitter flavors balanced perfectly with sweet
  4. Spaghetti with Eggplant ~ fresh, pasta perfectly cooked, sweet, even flavors, could use more eggplant
  5. Penne with Lentil Ragu ~ strong lentil flavor and texture, loved the zuchinni, not as flavorful as eggplant
  6. Penne Puttanesca ~ bitter because of capers & olives, very salty

My Favorite Dish: Spaghetti with Eggplant
Taste: 9/10
Unique menu & flavors: not sure about unique, but what they have is hard to find
Organic: mostly
Local: yes
Gluten-Free Options: yes! (corn & rice pasta is used)
Healthy: pretty healthy in that they use light oil and quality ingredients
Eco-Friendly: semi - grease turned into biodiesel, biodegradable containers
Customer service: excellent, very friendly
Atmosphere: cozy, welcoming, bustling during busy hours, seating outside
Location: on Montana Ave (also one in Encino)
Parking: free in parking lot
Price: very affordable
Portion Sizes: medium/large

Aside from the food, you should check out the sweet herb garden they have growing outside the restaurant. There's a bench you can sit on to enjoy the beautiful plants, but don't pluck them - apparently dogs are known to pee on them! They're just for decoration, but it's a great indicator of the fresh food inside. In fact, Rosti makes their own Tuscan Herb mix that you can buy to take home and boy is that good! I use it all the time to try to mimic their dishes, but it doesn't quite cut it - Rosti is delicious!

Second Opinion: check out QuarryGirl's review of the vegan menu

931 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

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16350 Ventura Blvd. Encino, CA 91436

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