Wine, Spaghetti, Gelato: Are We in Italy or Santa Barbara?

Geneva Ives

By , Local Expert, Santa Barbara
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Santa Barbara’s Mediterranean influences extend far beyond the red tile roofs and balmy gardens, right onto our dinner (and lunch) plates. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the plethora of Italian restaurants dotting our streets. From small Mom and Pop counter hideaways to fancy white linen and silver affairs, Santa Barbara’s Italian eateries run the gamut.

Downtown Santa Barbara boasts a multitude of dining options for pasta lovers. On fair evenings, try to get a seat on Bucatini’s patio for an al fresco dinner right in the center of the action. Or, for a little ambience no matter what the weather, try the Chase Bar...  Read more »

  • 1

    Olio e Limone

    • Cuisine: European, Italian
    • Average Main Course Price: $28
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Local Expert Tip: "Looking to impress a date? Then this is the Italian restaurant for you. Every element speaks of class, and the food is outstanding. Bottles of the house olive oil are available for purchase (because the date is going to be such a success that you'll want a keepsake)."

  • 2

    Olio Pizzeria

    Local Expert Tip: "If your pizza arrives on the special brown pizza plate - instead of a customary white one - it's free! Not hungry for pizza? Visit around lunch time for a melty and delectable panini."

  • 3

    Trattoria Vittoria

    Local Expert Tip: "If you have the opportunity, sit at the bar. The charming and well-loved bartender, Ivo, will make you feel very welcome and even, if you are lucky, toss a few bottles in the air while making your cocktail. Voila, dinner and a show!"

  • 4


    • Cuisine: European, Italian
    • Average Main Course Price: $18
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Local Expert Tip: "With a patio that faces bustling State St., Bucatini is a fun place to grab a (super delicious) meal while watching the world parade past. It can also make for an extremely romantic setting, especially around dusk."

  • 5


    • Cuisine: European, Italian
    • Average Main Course Price: $20
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Local Expert Tip: "Everyone loves going to Ca' Dario for their ravioli, but if you go on a Thursday, you'll have the chance to try their other (secretly) famous pasta: gnocchi. My chef friends also tell me that they serve the best rib eye in Santa Barbara!"

  • 6

    Pane e Vino

    Local Expert Tip: "Pane e Vino selects their produce from the local farmer's markets, so their menu changes each season. Visit in the summertime for divine dishes featuring regional heirloom tomatoes."

  • 7

    Via Vai

    Local Expert Tip: "If it's a nice day - and it usually is here - and you want to sit outside, look no further than Via Vai. Their relaxing patio is shaded and boxed in by plants in terracotta pots, ideal for a relaxing lunch."

  • 8

    Chase Bar & Grill

    Local Expert Tip: "Do not leave without trying the house white beans: a heavenly, slow baked concoction of white beans, olive oil, onions, and black pepper (and probably a few secret ingredients). Amazing on bread and - let's just say you run out of bread - amazing by the spoonful."

  • 9

    Tre Lune

    Local Expert Tip: "Breakfast! How many Italian places are open in the morning? Um, almost zero. But Tre Lune opens up right at 7:30 every day. It's the perfect place to grab an espresso and watch as beautiful Montecito wakes up."


  • 10

    Via Maestra 42

    Local Expert Tip: "To avoid the pangs of envy that come with spotting a dish even more delicious than your own, order the pumpkin ravioli. It is the stuff of legend here in Santa Barbara."



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