Italian Food & Art at Luigi al Teatro

The Chateau Paintings displayed at Michelin-starred chef Luigi Fineo’s restaurant Luigi al Teatro, adds to the theatrics of the Santa Monica California seafood with a Southern Italian flair menu.

Michelin-starred chef Luigi Fineo

Luigi al Teatro has an artistic past as once the historic Powerhouse Theatre. Inside the dining room on the walls are painted faces of actors looking towards the kitchen where Executive Chef Luigi Fineo prepares his Italian specialities. Outside on the al fresco dining patio, art is the focal point among greenery and a wall of herbs for the chef to cultivate and use for sauces, garnish and decoration.

Artist Lisa Gizara

A few weeks ago, I met resident artist Lisa Gizara during her art opening reception at Teatro di Luigi in Santa Monica. While sipping Prosecco, Gizara shared with me her “once in a lifetime” experience in France at The Chateau Orquevaux. “The chateau was about 3.5 hours East of Paris, between Champagne and Dijon,” said Gizara. “I would wake up in the morning, look out my window and feel so lucky.”

IMG_4443Her two week residency brought her close to other artists from around the world. The 2018 Artist-in-Residence program received applicants from artists in over 25 countries including Canada, South Africa, and Egypt. There is a two-week and four-week residency program. Gizara stayed for two week in a studio room on the top floor. “We would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together, paint and share wine together. It was magical,” said Gizara.


Since 1990 she has only painted black and white paintings, however after living at the chateau for weeks, she was moved to incorporate colors on her canvas. “For the first time since college, I totally immersed myself in art while at the chateau,” said Gizara.

Born in upstate New York, Gizara started painting at the age of 13. She fondly remembers painting New England landscapes and farmers in fields. While attending U Mass Dartmouth, she discovered that she wanted to be an artist full-time and moved to Santa Monica in 1986. “I started painting monochromatic images in black and white with a little bit of gray and olive green,” she said.

Her work has developed a Hollywood following, with her limited edition portfolio of both photograph & paintings included in the 2014 Oscar Nominee Gift Bags. Her work has appeared on Entertainment Tonite, The Insider, Access Hollywood and the The Ellen Show.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence and actor Bruce Dern display Gizara’s artwork in their private collections, and Disney executive Sean Cocchia has some of Gizara’s Los Angeles photographs.


Come see Gizara’s artwork until December 3, 2018 during brunch or dinner at Luigi al Teatro.


Brunch dishes include a variety of toasts topped with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and capers. I enjoyed the luscious avocado, burrata and pickled onions, and mint. Another offered a soft poached egg on top of layers of prosciutto, arugula and a cherry tomato. For something sweet the ricotta with fig jam and fried rosemary is a winner.


Salads include a brightly colored heirloom tomato with burrata, and baby gem lettuce drizzled with an orange bourbon vinaigrette. Fineo also makes a spinach quiche, baked eggs and a sea urchin omelet. Brunch is available on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. Dinner service begins at 5 p.m.

3116 Second St., Santa Monica, (310)328-0000 – Click here to see the dinner menu 

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