This establishment has been up and running since 1937. Current owners Dave, Kitty, Dede and Jim are keeping everyone safe and offering all of their glorious specialties in their very fun patio, normally a bocce ball court. They had many tournaments back when Covid was not part of our daily lives in 2019. This year the court is being used as their outdoor dining room.
My dear friend Julie Askew, aka Juli Star knows the owner’s daughter Sara Skrinski, so she suggested that I try Arnoldi’s. Julie and Sara are good friends, when I asked Sara and mentioned Julie it was a no-brainer that I come in and do a tasting, was I glad she did!
One of the oldest restaurants in Santa Barbara, Arnoldi’s Cafe was founded by Giuseppe and Ilda Arnold in 1937, at 421 East Cota Street. In 1940, Giuseppe (Joe) quarried local stone and built the present restaurant at 600 Olive Street. Since then, Arnoldi’s, with the bocce ball courts in the garden, has been entertaining Santa Barbarians and visitors from all over the world.
Arnoldi’s has hosted orchestras and dancers since the 1940s’. The mural depicts Logo di Como. Bucky, the Tule Elk, overlooking the bar joined Arnoldi’s following Joe’s 1958 hunting trip to Colorado.
The owners of Arnoldi’s Café, Jim and Dede Nonn, Dave and Kitty Peri, and Carol Smagala, are pleased to preserve the valued traditions of Arnoldi’s. They bought the restaurant having been customers when they found it was closing back in the ’80s.
Here’s What I Tried:
Vodka Martini, just the perfect way to start my amazing dining experience. Cold, in a proper glass, just the way I like it.
Lemon Drop, refreshing, sweet, just delicious.
Margarita, a good drink option, perfect for this beach town. It hit the spot.
Bruschetta Classico, toasted ciabatta bread topped with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil, drizzled with olive oil, there are lots of cubed tomatoes, and the combination of flavors makes you understand why this appetizer is such an Italian staple.
Calamari Fritti, Fried calamari served with a spicy tomato sauce, light and fluffy, these little darlings are not heavy and will get your appetite going.
Gamberi Della Casa, Sautéed grilled tiger prawns served with a spicy garlic tomato sauce. These are more on the Latin side with its spicy sauce and seasonings, but super delicious nonetheless.
Insalata Rucca, Arugula salad, cherry tomatoes and walnuts, drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. This is a great salad, the bitterness of the arugula, with the sweetness of the walnuts; just explodes in your mouth.
Insalata Cesare, Classic Caesar salad, this salad is crunchy and creamy, a fantastic rendition of one of my favorites.
Spaghetti Al Frutti Di Mare, Spaghetti with fresh assorted seafood in a light spicy tomato sauce. Jam-packed with fresh seafood, this pasta does not disappoint.
Penne Al Salmone, Smoked salmon, peas, and a light tomato cream sauce. The salmon is smoked which adds a whole other layer of goodness, just terrific.
Lasagna Alla Bolognese, Housemade meat lasagna in a pomodoro sauce. If you’re looking for the ultimate comfort food, this is it. All of the ingredients are melted perfectly into one mouthwatering casserole.
Gnocchi Tricolore, Traditional housemade potato dumplings in 3 different sauces: Pomodoro – Fresh tomato sauce, Gorgonzola – A creamy Gorgonzola cheese sauce, Pesto – Traditional Genovese basil and pine nut sauce. This menu item is the star of the show, you get a bit of everything, you need to order this one.
Scaloppini Al Marsala, Sautéed veal with a Marsala mushroom sauce served with linguine Alfredo. My star waiter; Sean Feldman said I had to try this, he was right. He has been working at Arnoldi’s for nine years, so he knows what to order. The mushrooms will take your breath away, its just astounding.
Tiramisu Al Limone, Mascarpone cream on a sponge base, covered in lemon drenched ladyfingers. This dessert is really decadent, but worth it.
Gelato, A generous serving of vanilla ice cream topped with your choice of chocolate, strawberry or vanilla sauce. Soothing, delicious, a must-try.
Sauvignon Blanc, Brander, Santa Barbara 2016, this is the perfect choice for the appetizer shrimp, its adds to the overall creaminess of the wine.
Chardonnay, Gainey, Santa Barbara County 2015. A great wine with the seafood pasta, it lends itself to the lovely seafood flavors.
Red Blend, “The Big Easy”, Fess Parker, Santa Barbara County, 2017. You can try this wine with any of the red sauce pasta dishes.
Rosse D. Montepulciano, Toscana, I loved this wine with the veal, it stands up to the Marsala in the sauce.
Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon, Banfi Col de Sasso, either the lasagna or the veal is the right choice for this wine.
The outdoor patio comes complete with a pizza oven, large and roomy, just the perfect way to dine under the stars.
I love all of the history that Arnoldi’s had to offer. Don’t just go there for a special occasion; it’s a casual everyday type of environment. So just meet your friends and go. You could also make this your Santa Barbara destination hang out; it’s just that good!
600 Olive St,
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
* Note some content was taken off of their website.