The smell of braising Ossobuco emanating from the kitchen and wafting throughout the home is one of comfort, evoking early childhood memories and inspiring culinary creativity in Chef Davide Vedovelli of Locanda del Lago restaurant in Santa Monica, California. Born into a family of restaurateurs and raised in what many know to be a food-focused culture, Vedovelli developed his creative and artistic passion for cooking primarily in Milan, though his formative cooking years were spent apprenticing and working throughout the kitchens of Europe.
Drawing inspiration from the colors, flavors, and scents of the Farmers’ Market in Santa Monica, he cooks as if he were in his family’s kitchen, focusing on the simplicity of ingredients that go a long way—Gorgonzola and Robiola cheeses, Salame, Speck, Coppa and other cured meats. Vedovelli explains that learning to utilize local products to “obtain a balance of flavors without any spice or ingredient overpowering other flavor components” is an integral element of his cuisine.
Locanda del Lago occupies a true niche in the Los Angeles restaurant scene because it specializes in the cuisine of Lake Como. Considerably different from what the general public often considers “Italian food,” Lago’s menu is heavily influenced by seafood, the use of fresh vegetables, and other hearty countryside ingredients. Dishes such as Trota alla Comasca (fillets of rainbow trout marinated in lemon, caper, and parsley) and Risotto di Zucca e Capesante (butternut squash risotto with seared scallops and a balsamic vinegar glaze) are representative of the focused regional cuisine.
Maybe he can thank his grandmother for instilling in him the passion for the culinary craft and the ability and instincts necessary to remain truly successful in the restaurant business. “I remember waking up when I was five years old with the aroma of the Ossobuco my grandmother would begin preparing in the early morning,” says Vedovelli. Now, thanks to his years in the business and early lessons from family, he knows when it has reached true perfection.