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The Sunset serves experiences for any occasion

Pictured is the scallop risotto at The Sunset in Malibu. Photo by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Pictured are the mussels and frites at The Sunset in Malibu. Photo by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Ashleigh Fryer, Senior Editor
2:40 pm PDT June 16, 2014

Although the name of the restaurant may suggest otherwise, The Sunset doesn’t bank on their sweeping views of Westward Beach to drive in customers.

“I’m Italian,” owner Franco Simplicio said, laughing. “The food, to me, is essential. The food has to be great or else I’d be miserable.”

Don’t get him wrong, the sunsets from The Sunset’s dining area, which is just steps from the sand and in prime positioning for dolphin and whale watching, are “phenomenal, spectacular and are different every evening.” But, having owned and operated restaurants like Allegria and Malibu’s Moonshadows, Simplicio takes pride in crafting unique personalities for each of his venues that extend far beyond their physical location. 

“They’re all based on my personality,” Simplicio said. “I like to see The Sunset as well-rounded. It has life to it.”

The Sunset’s chef, Enrico Glaudo, has translated that life into the restaurant’s scallop risotto.

Diver scallops, expertly seared to a golden brown crust on both sides, sit delicately atop a bed of creamy risotto, porcini mushrooms and English peas. 

According to Simplicio, the dish is “as good as you’re going to get in Italy, or anywhere.”

The pride Simplicio and Glaudo take in their food and their venue are apparent. With such a storied location, having once housed the infamous restaurant Monroe’s, the trendy bar Splash and more recently The Grey Whale, Simplicio went to great lengths to create an entirely new persona for the restaurant when he took over in 2004. 

“We wanted to start fresh with a new approach,” Simplicio said. 

That approach included renovations and the implementation of a full raw seafood bar and a Happy Hour menu, which includes $5 appetizers and beverages from 3-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, made with fresh ingredients, handmade by the bar’s mixologist. The restaurant also boasts a live DJ on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as a more laid back musical experience on Sundays called “The Sunset sessions.”

But, in the end, everything comes back to the food.

“We’re proud of our food; it shows in the acceptance we get from the public,” Simplicio said. “We’re a restaurant, ultimately. We’re not here to be a club or just a bar. We’re hear for the locals to get a full experience.”

And with frequent deliveries of the freshest items from the local Santa Monica Seafood, it’s no wonder Simplicio makes lifelong fans out of his guests upon their first visit. 

“We’re hard to find, it’s a little off the beaten path,” Simplicio said. “But once people discover us, they come back for many reasons.”

Other dishes not to miss...

• Mussels and frites — This dish features mussels served with a light French broth of tomatoes and onions and paired with an order of seasoned french fries.