Santa Monica perennial Locanda del Lago, dutifully spotlighting the cuisine of Northern Italy's Lombardy region for regulars and Third Street Promenade walk-ins alike since 1991, cannot be faulted for overlooking a trend.

Lago is the first restaurant in Santa Monica to adopt Meatless Mondays, the flourishing culinary movement that purports to give the planet a breather, if only for a day, by offering a rotating selection of dishes that omit resource-intensive (earthbound) meat. Launched on May 17th, the trattoria's Monday menu features items like Dungeness crab salad with arugula and baby artichoke, pumpkin ravioli with olive oil and sage–enriched squash with fresh sage is a virtually critic-proof combination–and Tasmanian trout in a blood orange reduction with Peruvian potato and spinach. This is hardly a vegetarian/vegan furlough; rather, it's akin to weekly Lent. Il pesce and i crostacei are still very much in play, but it should be noted that all Meatless Monday selections are prepared without cheese, milk or butter.

Paradoxically, Meatless Mondays debut at Locanda del Lago barely a month after the Lake Como-inspired kitchen featured an ungulate-intensive L.A. Marathon menu consisting of specialties such as braised calf's foot cartilage salad and caramelized beef bone marrow. Landlocked protein, sustainable or otherwise, remains the athletes' and Lululemon Athletica shoppers' recovery meal of choice.

Locanda del Lago: 231 Arizona Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401; (310) 451-3525.

LA Weekly