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Santa Monica's Forma Brings Dreamy Cheese and Pasta to Montana Avenue

Expect lots of Italian cheese.

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Santa Monica’s ritzy Montana Avenue strip just got another big culinary boost with yesterday’s soft opening of Forma, a contemporary Italian restaurant and cheese bar. The brainchild of chef Piero Topputo, GM Mario Sabatini and Robert Donnell (Topputo and Sabatini previously spent time together at Westside darling Toscana) Forma is an airy modern ode to the Italian trattoria, with a sleek L-shaped marble bar and lots of fresh pasta on the menu.

Forma takes over the former Jack’s on Montana space at 1610 Montana Avenue, but the look inside is a far cry from the former digs. Thanks to design firm Aero Collective, the space has been overhauled with muted tones, hanging lantern fixtures, touches of tile, and a long, tall wall full of open red banquette seating.

The menu here works California ingredients into Italian fare, from grilled octopus with lentils to a fresh tagliolini pasta with heirloom tomatoes. Cheese, of course, features prominently with risottos and special pastas that are actually finished inside a wheel of cheese, from giant Parmigiano Reggiano wheels to hulking sides of Pecorino Romano. An extensive charcuterie and cheese program is also on offer, alongside a strong collection of European and Californian wines.

Forma eventually hopes for all-day dominance along Montana Avenue once it moves out of soft-open phase, with hours running daily from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Until then, expect dinner service only, from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

1610 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, CA