Hello dear readers! Hope you are having an absolutely fabulous day. Today we are back with another list….. TOP ITALIAN FOOD IN SAN DIEGO! I must confess, I’m very picky when it comes to Italian food. I honestly wasn’t even sure if I liked it based off the few places I had tried in San Diego. Then, I went to Italy, and my mind. Was. Blown. The food there was fresh but simple- using only the most basic ingredients, but with the best of quality. All the pastas, all the pizzas, all the tiramisus were simply out of this world. We ate around five meals a day, and simply could not stuff ourselves with enough pasta. Everything from pappardelle, to gnocchi, to risotto, to cheese wheel pasta with truffles- we ate. Ever since then, I have been chasing the Italian dream in San Diego, trying to find restaurants that met the standards set by their Roman counterparts. So far, I have found just a few. Below are restaurants that I personally think are the absolute best.
1. Tavola Nostra Pizzeria Cucina
‘Tavola Nostra’ translates to ‘our table’, which is exactly what owner Jeff Oliveri strives to embody every single day in his restaurant. Although they have pasta and pizza and all the other Italian goodies, the true star of the show is the pinsa, which is Jeff's specialty after he spent months learning how to make it under Italian chefs in Rome. What is a pinsa? Well it’s not a pizza, let me tell you that (though it’s very similar)! Compared to its better known counterpart, the pinsa is much fluffier and lighter. Its dough is made of soy, rice and wheat, making it the healthier alternative. It’s typically shaped differently as well. When we went we got boh pinsas and pizzas, and I would highly recommend both. Their pepperoni pizza was out of this world good and their Dolce E Salato pinsa has one of the most unique topping combinations you’ll find! It’s a mix of mozzarella, Guanciale, Pecorino Romano and Sicilian honey. Now I know some of you might be secretly thinking that honey on a pizza is an abomination, but trust me, don’t knock it until you try it- I was literally obsessed from the first bite. Something about the combination of salty, sweet and MEATY!
Now, what about the other food? Obviously, you’re not going to come to an Italian restaurant just to eat pizza (right? Right?) so let’s talk about some of their other items. For starters, the arancini are to die for. If you’ve never had one, now is your chance- it’s just a deep fried rice ball of deliciousness served with sauce! Their meatballs and burrata are delicious too. Their pastas are one the simpler side, which I personally prefer. They have a cacio e pepe, which is a Roman specialty comprised of only cheese, black pepper and pasta. So insanely delicious if made correctly!
There you have it, my favorite Italian restaurant in all of San Diego. I’ve been to quite a few Italian restaurants, and Tavola Nostra has been the only one where every dish was objectively as good as the last. Most restaurants I’ve been to might do pizza really well, but then drop the ball on pasta, or vice versa with any other dishes. But Tavola Nostra gets every dish just right.
Have you ever seen a restaurant with a theme of exotic cars? Me neither. It’s just one of the things that stands out about Scuderie Italia, a knockout restaurant in Pacific Beach. From the menus, to the walls, to the patio, Scuderie gives off an impeccably cool but still oh so elevated vibe. Owner Leo Landini, a Florence native, runs the show with chef DJ Tangalin, a well-known and beloved Filipino chef known for his work at JRDN, Bivouac Ciderworks and Tidal. Scuderie is on the list because quite frankly their pasta was amazing. The best gnocchi I might have ever had. Ever. Check out these pillowy balls of goodness, with butternut squash puree, pine nuts and sage.
We also got a seasonal sugo pasta with rabbit, which was also phenomenal! Another standout dish was the gamberi calabrese, or seared shrimp in Calabrian chile sauce. I had to get this as I had never had Italian chile oil before and I was quite impressed. Not too spicy either!
Unfortunately the one thing I did not like at Scuderie was their pizza. Perhaps it was an off day, but the pizza was soggy and bland. And we got the one that was recommended to us too. Would say they have the best pasta in SD though!
3. Via Adriano
Via Adriano is a unique spot because of the Italian fare they offer- Italian sandwiches! In Rome, there were Italian sandwich shops everywhere. And they were always packed! So I was delighted when Via Adirano first opened and made a beeline straight over there. Chef Francesco Tassone had been running neighboring restaurant Enoteca Adriano since 2009 before deciding to open this Italian delicatessen. Their menu consists of paninis (of course) as well as rotating daily lunch specials like lasagna, arancini, and orzo soup. And you can finish everything off with some house made gelato! We got the prosciutto crudo with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil. This was the perfect basic sandwich that was light and fresh but filling at the same time! You won’t leave feeling heavy or like you consumed a lot of greasy or oily food.
The second sandwich was the porchetta panini with fontina (creamy milk cheese), caramelized onion, and arugula. Porchetta is a boneless pork roast sliced thin! So delicious. This panini was definitely a little more hefty and meaty, but perfectly balanced.
I would highly recommend both, on top of their lasagna which I gobbled up!
That’s it for today friends! Let me know your favorite Italian restaurant below :) Have an amazing weekend!
Don’t forget to check out my Instagram page, foodventurewithanna, for more delicious bites. Check out my youtube worldventurewithanna if you’re into mukbangs or you need something to laugh at!