Tag Archives: San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond

Clever Chef At Catania Hits All The Right Notes

Catania
Whole Roasted Branzino with Manila Clams, Spring Onion Pesto, Grilled Asparagus and Chili Bread Crumbs

The smell of wood-fired pizzas hits you as you walk in the door at Whisknladle Hospitality’s Catania, nestled on the top floor of the La Plaza center in La Jolla, California.

San Diego Food Finds Catania Restaurant
Ahi Tartare with Melon, Calabrian Chili, Yogurt, Shallot, Lemon, Sesame, Pistachio and Tarragon

Inspired by Whisknladle Hospitality Owner Arturo Kassel and Culinary Director/Partner Ryan Johnston after their two-week, 1,400-mile road trip through Italy, this innovative 3,750-square-foot restaurant, with an expansive patio and outdoor bar space, puts diners right near the ocean and within walking distance of shopping.

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Landini’s Sicilian Style Pizza

sicilian style pizza
courtesy photo

Although authentic pizza is available throughout the Little Italy neighborhood, it is rare to find a location that sells by the slice. Opened in 2009, Landini’s has built a strong following for its genuine Sicilian-style pies and other traditional baked meals. Its success can be measured by the lines of patrons patiently waiting along India Street to grab a taste of the hand-tossed thin crust. At least a dozen styles are available in the window for a quick bite, and a little patience will award you with any special-order pie. Choose from the more traditional pepperoni, sausage and meatball or the more adventurous combinations like BBQ chicken, spinach, artichokes and jalapenos. Daily specials include various topping combinations that appeal to any palate. Calzones, stromboli and paninis are prepared with freshly prepared dough or bread. Or opt for a dish of pasta and salad. Local craft beers and wine are also offered.

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Eat Local at Ironside Fish and Oyster

Ironside Fish and Oyster
Photo By Maria Desiderata Montana

Named after the previous tenant of the 1920’s–era warehouse, Ironside Metal Supply, Ironside Fish and Oyster is the most recent restaurant innovation of executive chef and partner Jason McLeod. Little Italy, which is historically a fishing village, didn’t have a single oyster bar or seafood joint amongst its dozens of restaurants. McLeod noted the missing link and decided to make a change. He created a menu chock–full of local seafood, including lobster rolls, clam chowder and a raw bar with up to eight oyster varieties. “San Diego is a known seaport city born from a local fishing industry that was once famous as the tuna capital of America,” says McLeod. “My goal at Ironside has been to reintroduce an oyster culture and approachable raw bar concept to the city’s dining scene.” The building and interior boast meticulously crafted design details and the bar menu showcases over fifty unique craft and fortified cocktails, making Ironside the preeminent dining destination in San Diego.

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Experience the Flavors of Italy at CUCINA Enoteca

Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

As a leader in San Diego’s culinary landscape for the last seventeen years, celebrated proprietor, restaurateur and interior designer Tracy Borkum’s CUCINA enoteca is a beautiful two-story, 7,000 sq ft restaurant and wine shop located in Del Mar’s Flower Hill Promenade.

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Squash Blossoms (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

The exceptional culinary team is led by Executive Chef Joe Magnanelli, who combines the flavors of Italy with the organic freshness of California. Keeping in line with the signature CUCINA experience, the modern Italian kitchen-meets-rustic-farmhouse concept presents guests with the same highly curated “restaurant to retail” environment found in their existing locations. Offering diners nearly everything for sale, including the customized furniture, lighting and décor, CUCINA enoteca Del Mar also features a dedicated wine shop where guests can purchase hand-selected wines at retail price, either to enjoy with their meal or take to go.

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Italian Inspired Bottega Americano

Italian Inspired Bottega Americano
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Located inside the Thomas Jefferson School of Law directly across the street from the city’s new Central Library in San Diego’s East Village, Bottega Americano is an Italian–inspired restaurant and specialty food marketplace that invites guests to dine in a fun and exciting dining hall.

Together, there are four notable Bottega owners who bring to life a new genre of dining inspired by old–world European style, including Giuseppe Ciuffa, founder and CEO of Giuseppe Fine Restaurants & Fine Catering; avid foodie, investor and East Village resident Chad Ruyle; restaurateurGreg Van de Velde, who most recently managed the iconic Bertrand at Mister A’s restaurant; and noted chef David Warner, formerly of San Diego’s beachfront hotspot JRDN. “My partners and I had a strong vision for the project from the beginning,” says Ciuffa. “Chef Warner and I work together with our culinary team on all of the menu ideas. So instead of having just one chef with only one vision, we are inspired by many different tastes, trends and experiences.”

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PrepKitchen Little Italy

San Diego Food Finds
Grilled Bone Marrow

Prepkitchen, the sister restaurant of critically heralded San Diego staple Whisknladle, is going strong in downtown’s Little Italy neighborhood, melding artisanal ingredients with handcrafted touches to create unpretentious, convenient dining with a nod to all things comforting and gourmet.

San Diego Food Finds
Butter Lettuce Salad

Located on the 2nd floor with a spectacular view of India and Date streets, Prepkitchen Little Italy boasts an airy and comfortable dining room and bar area that is welcoming and inviting. Nearly all design elements are salvaged or antiqued, lending to the restaurant’s hip-meets-home vibe. From communal dining tables to an inviting lounge area, Prepkitchen sets itself up to create an unparalleled social dining experience for patrons.

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