Originally printed in the October 2019 issue of Produce Business.
Italian farm-to-table spot shines close to Santa Monica beach.
Tuscan Son brings centuries of tradition to fast-casual dining in the trendy side of one of the nation’s trendiest cities.
Chef and owner Massimo Ormani, himself a Tuscan son who spent half his life in his native Florence, Italy, before moving to Los Angeles, began his culinary education at home and in schools at age 14 before working at some of Italy’s finest restaurants.
Ormani was sought after to take over the kitchen of a then new restaurant, Locanda Veneta, in Los Angeles.
While heading the kitchen at Locanda Veneta, consistently rated one of the top three Italian restaurants in Southern California, Massimo met his wife, Daniela, and together they opened their own restaurant, the award-winning Massimo in Beverly Hills in 2002, before moving on last year to the more casual Tuscan Son.
“We have a purveyor, but a lot of the produce is from farmers’ markets,” says Daniela Ormani. “We go to the Santa Monica and Culver City markets at least weekly. Massimo goes and looks at heirloom tomatoes and other produce; he looks at cost and what’s out there.”
The menu includes toasted ciabatta with crushed avocado, oven-roasted tomatoes and goat cheese, a Panini board, Tuscan soups, pasta di Massimo, Lavassa coffee and espresso, in-house baked breads and a selection of seasonal salads featuring ingredients from local fields.
“At Tuscan Son, we are completely local,” says Ormani. “We live in the same neighborhood and participate and support our local schools, farmers markets, nonprofit organizations and nearby businesses. We offer our fresh baked goods and Italian coffee every Sunday at the (new Overland Farmers Market).”
Located less than six miles from Santa Monica Beach, the restaurant offers Summer Picnic Baskets packed with four-course meals featuring foods steeped in traditional Italian cuisine.
Customers looking for salads can choose from among the Toscana Chopped, featuring Romaine hearts, organic grilled chicken, Kalamata olives, garbanzos and heirloom tomatoes; the LA Sun, with wild arugula, hearts of palm, Marcona almonds; or the Roman Caesar, with grilled chicken.
Center plate choices include Meatball Alessandro, featuring grass-fed beef meatballs, Pollo al Balsamico, with rosemary-roasted organic chicken breast or a grilled organic chicken breast; and Orto Pollo Panino, with grilled zucchini, avocado, wild arugula and Fontina on a baguette.
Choices for the two sides include oven-roasted broccoli, braised cauliflower, fagiolini with green beans sautéed with red onion, parsley and fresh tomato, and peperonata, the Italian ratatouille with eggplant, yellow and red pepper, onion and potatoes braised in light tomato sauce.
Order 24 hours in advance and be assured (this is West Los Angeles after all) that all dishes are served in compostable containers.
“We use corn straws and biodegradable packaging,” says Daniela. “Our chicken is Mary’s organic chicken. I think overall, people care. For the most part, people in this neighborhood care that the food is sourced locally. From the reviews, I would think they care about that.”
After nearly a decade of racking up awards and winning loyal customers at their fine-dining, white tablecloth establishment in Beverly Hills, Massimo and Daniela wanted to make fine Italian cuisine available at a more casual and affordable setting.
For Ormani, it was a passion. “Having trained and cooked in fine dining throughout my life at some of the most notable restaurants in Florence — to ultimately having my own namesake in Beverly Hills — I yearned to take my passion and experience and create a casual Italian, farm-to-table neighborhood spot where my friends, family and local food enthusiasts could enjoy my cooking at an accessible price,” he says.
“The integration of rustic Tuscan fare in a fast-casual setting, combined with fresh locally sourced ingredients, is what makes our place so special.”
Tuscan Son is not only more affordable than Beverly Hills’ finest, but the experience is also more congenial.
“It’s a different vibe; it’s more fun,” says Daniela. “We get a much younger customer. We also have a lot of young families who are glad to see their kids eating healthy. We’re building different relationships with our customers. It’s less formal and more relaxed. We live in the neighborhood, and people are excited to bring their friends in.”
10700 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 150
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Hours: Mon – Fri 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sat 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sun 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.