Westsiders know Stefano De Lorenzo’s cooking well from his days with La Botte (which earned one Michelin star in 2008) and at his Venice beach restaurant Piccolo. Now the seasoned Italian chef is back in the kitchen at Colapasta, a low-key “creative trattoria” that opened two weeks ago specializing in fresh pasta near Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade.
Colapasta clearly competes with Uovo, another casual, full-service pasta restaurant. While Uovo relies on Italian ingredients and a dedicated sfoglina makes their pasta in Bologna, De Lorenzo makes its pasta on the premises and finds inspiration at the local Santa Monica Farmers Market. De Lorenzo and new front of house partner Lazzaro Marco Ferrari join the increasingly competitive casual pasta field, which also includes two Pasta Sisters outposts and Fatto a Mano in Redondo Beach.
Pasta dishes cost $11 to 14, which is notable considering La Botte used to charge $18 to 22 per plate down the street, and those were the prices back in 2009. On Colapasta’s initial “beta menu,” only casunziei overlaps with one bygone La Botte menu that lingers online. This half-moon-shaped red beet ravioli with brown butter and poppy seeds comes from De Lorenzo’s home region in northern Italy, Dolimiti.
Bigoli is a bouncy extruded pasta with a hole in the center that Colapasta credits to Campania. De Lorenzo presents a sizable thatch aglio olio style, tossed with garlic, olive oil, and anchovies. Calamarata is a tubular pasta from Napoli designed to resemble calamari rings. Instead of squid ink, a classic accompaniment, Colapasta tosses their calamarata with tomato sauce and dresses with creamy stracciatella, oregano, and a splash of olive oil.
Colapasta only offers eight pastas on their opening “beta menu,” plus three antipasti and a single soup. Once it secures a beer & wine license, the restaurant will add hours beyond lunch, and expand the menu.
Colapasta resides at the base of a modern glass and steel building. The glass fronted space hosts shiny silver sidewalk tables, wooden indoor tables, and a joyful black-and-white photo depicting a boy holding a colander over his head. Ferrari sourced the photo from a San Francisco photographer, and it happened to look like Stefano as a boy, so they built the design around it. Colapasta translates from Italian as colander, thus the name.
Colapasta is also a story of reinvention. De Lorenzo has a higher-end culinary background, and now embraces more casual Italian cooking. He had been working as a GM for a few years at restaurants like Maccheroni Republic, but couldn’t resist the kitchen’s allure. He proposed Colapasta to new front of house partner, fellow Italian Lazzaro Marco Ferrari, on Christmas day.
Prior to Colapasta, Ferrari worked as a creative director, designer and “immersive storyteller.” This is his first restaurant, but he said, “LA is a city that pushes you to re-set, re-start, many times.”
Colapasta, 1241 5th St., Santa Monica, (310) 310-8336 www.colapasta.restaurant