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A Santa Barbara Foodie Haven Hiding in Plain Sight

Sourcing the most romantic restaurants is a top priority when your SmartFlyer travel advisor plans your couple’s retreat.

While we relish in an itinerary with ample off-property dining, a resort with exceptional culinary offerings allows for true relaxation. Our friends at Rosewood Miramar Beach – one of Santa Barbara’s most sought-after hotels since its recent opening – offer some dreamy eateries for you to enjoy without ever having to leave. Set along one of Southern California’s most beautiful coastlines, this estate-style stay takes full advantage of the sun-washed climate. And its coastal locale provides guests an exploration of local heritage and culture and – most importantly – exquisite culinary journeys. This luxurious resort is renowned for its exceptional service owed to the expertly crafted experiences by a Michelin-starred Italian chef.

But, before we take a taste of what the chef has to offer, here’s a little sampling of frequently asked questions about Santa Barbara.

Where is Santa Barbara?

Santa Barbara – also known as the American Riviera – rests on the central California coast just a short drive away from the iconic Malibu coastline. With the Santa Ynez Mountains serving as a dramatic backdrop, this Mediterranean-style city reflects its Spanish colonial heritage with its white stucco buildings with red-tile roofing and blends it with modern, upscale boutiques,  local wineries, and romantic restaurants. A slow drive through the neighborhood reveals that this destination is replete with a diverse range of offerings. Choose from tours of the historical Mission Santa Barbara to sea kayaking through the vibrant caves of the neighboring Channel Islands.

What should I expect from Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and Rosewood Miramar Beach?

“The world-class resort conveys an elegant yet casual atmosphere, offering iconic sophistication and refined modernity.”

At its core, each outpost from Rosewood Hotels & Resorts embraces A Sense of Place® philosophy that reflects the culture, history, and geography of its locale. And Rosewood Miramar Beach is no exception: named one of world’s best new resorts in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2020 Hot List, this beachfront resort is one of the most cherished Santa Barbara hotels. It’s located directly on the beach – on one of the most pristine coastlines in the region – and just a few minute’s drive from picturesque Montecito. California-based SmartFlyer travel advisor Katie Lee reflects back on her recent stay, saying, “The world-class resort conveys an elegant yet casual atmosphere, offering iconic sophistication and refined modernity. Born from an era of gracious hosts welcoming guests for the season, the resort’s unparalleled level of service is attentive and professional, yet never pretentious.”

Upon arriving at Rosewood Miramar Beach, guests are immediately immersed in a timeless coastal retreat that encapsulates the hotel’s name “to behold the sea”. Experiences like Sense, A Rosewood Spa – the only Forbes Five-Star spa in Santa Barbara – offers treatments inspired by the native plants found along the coast. According to Southern California-based SmartFlyer travel advisor Michelle Manas, even the rooms capture a feeling of belonging, adding that “Residential exclusivity inspires the resort’s 161 spacious accommodations across 16 acres of rolling lawns and mature landscaping.” All of these ingredients blended together create a truly idyllic experience for any couple that’s dreamt of a romantic beach escape.

What’s the food like at Rosewood Miramar Beach?

From high-end coastal restaurants or lighter all-day fare, each of the romantic outlets here offer a delightful range of culinary options. Massimo’s Garden is a quintessential Montecito experience with seasonal coastal cuisine harvested from the surrounding garden and string-lit ambience. This exclusive chef-led experience is inspired by the bounty of offerings from local farmers, foragers, and fishermen. The dinner features a custom menu fully prepared in the garden itself with the chef’s tips and tricks demonstrated throughout each course. The recently launched selection of four bespoke picnic experiences feature world-renowned wine and champagne brands including Chateau d’Esclans, Dom Pérignon, Krug, and Ruinart. Each is paired with customized menus of light bites and desserts and offers a multi-sensory experience as an escape-within-an-escape. These are stylish approaches to some very effortless food: always fun, unfussy, and comfortable.

Caruso’s is a particularly delightful experience, serving a colorful assortment above the sand with expansive ocean views. Described by the Michelin Guide as a “special-occasion haven” and one of their most delightful choices for those looking for a romantic restaurant, contemporary Californian food with Italian leanings is the kitchen’s dictum. Executive Chef Massimo Falsini dives more into how this restaurant’s menu is ethically crafted, explaining, “The only way to achieve greatness in food is to respect the environment, animal welfare, and health. This is the only way to deliver the experience. The menu is alive, dynamic with constant changes, tweaks, and adjustments. At times, we have ingredients that are available for a couple of weeks or even a one-off from a micro-farm. We always take the opportunity to find room in our dishes and have the guests enjoy it.”

Who’s the creative genius behind Rosewood Miramar Beach’s restaurants?

…this Italian-native’s enogastronomic touch is felt throughout every delicious bite and sip.

As you may have guessed, Massimo Falsini spearheads this beachfront haven’s culinary journey. Falsini joined the romantic Rosewood Miramar Beach with more than thirty years of experience in the food and beverage industry, working in top restaurants across Europe, the Middle East, and North America. You may have heard of the legendary Harry’s Bar in Rome, where he helmed the kitchen and helped the restaurant to earn a Michelin Star. And you can bet that whether you’re immersed in The Manor Bar’s sophisticated pre-or post-dinner libations, enjoying some light seaside nourishment at Miramar Beach Bar, or lounging poolside with a decadent dessert from the Scoop Shop, this Italian-native’s enogastronomic touch is felt throughout every delicious bite and sip.

We checked in with Massimo Falsini to get some deeper insight into what inspires his work at Rosewood Miramar Beach.

We understand you’re from Rome originally and over the past thirty years, have worked in kitchens all over the world. What was your inspiration to pursue the culinary arts in those early years?

Cooking is not just the process of preparing food by applying heat: we are changing its flavor, texture, consistency, and appearance. We are giving it something from our heart, something magic. This is what I live for and obsess over: the transformation. Obviously, Mediterranean cuisine is my forte, and while Italy and Southern France are the pillars of my culinary background, spending some time in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Hawaii has influenced my relationship with food. I strive to find harmony and balance in flavors.

A Chef is Chef in their hearth, and we are all passionate about ingredients, flavors, and colors. I would say that I interpret the flavors as color and vice versa, with the ingredients always being the stars. At the end of the day, I am just a cook: a cook that has been cooking like my ancestors used to. A cook that comes from the land of the myth, a land of explorers, poets, and artists where erupted landscapes meet the sea and the sky, just like the American Riviera.

How have you infused your Southern Italian roots into the coastal Montecito dishes across the various Rosewood Miramar Beach dining outlets?

…the South of Italy has been “the garden of Europe,” just like California is for the US.

I am from Rome, which is actually the Center of Italy, not South. My culinary background is mostly from the heart of the South of Italy because my mentors were from the Naples area where much of the greatness of Italian cuisine resides; historically, the South of Italy has been “the garden of Europe,” just like California is for the US. So, the correlation becomes natural. The influx of Southern Italian cuisine is not so much in the recipe development per se, but in the application of the freshest local ingredients while following the seasons and nurturing the relationship with the farmers, fishermen, and ranchers. Just like we do in Italy. My “Italianity” really comes to life in Caruso’s menus.

The guest experience at Caruso’s is so special, characterized by sustainable resources that highlight the region’s rich gastronomy. How did you design the menu with sustainability at the forefront while never sacrificing on taste?

Well, take the artichoke for example: an ugly, rough cardoon that’s difficult to clean, cook, and has a poor yield. While you are cleaning them, peeling them, carving them with your paring knife, you give them something from yourself. Again, something magic. Just place them in some good extra virgin olive oil, with some garlic and lemon and good salt, cook them slowly – with respect – making sure their leaves are not falling from the stem. The results are mind-blowing.

You know, the perfection of Mother Nature is under our eyes, every day. We just forgot how to look at it, how to spot it. Just look at a Romanesco cauliflower and observe its geometry. Really look at it, and you’ll know.

Ready to experience the most romantic restaurants in Santa Barbara? Contact your SmartFlyer travel advisor and get cooking.

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