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Why so many Italian places in Encinitas?

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I have tried to understand why there seems to be a concentration of Italian restaurants in Encinitas (San Diego, North County coastal). Is this more Italian restaurants than usual for a small town? Don't misunderstand: I'm not complaining, I love the variety.

Here's my list off the top of my head, from South to North, not counting pizza-only joints. I've eaten in all but Firenze and Buca, and for the most part have been pleased.

Trattoria Positano
When in Rome
Pino's
Trattoria Trulli
Rosanna's
Trattoria Italia (Next to Roxy's on 101. Not sure about the name.)
Vigilucci's (on the corner of 101 and D)
Leucadia Pizza
Trattoria Firenze
Tuscan Sun
Buca di Beppo

There's another place next to Savon on Encinitas Blvd, and I'm sure there's something on 101 in Leucadia. Fill in the blanks.

We had dinner at T. Trulli for the first time the other night, and it was fun. The food was good, and the noise level was very high. We were outside, so the sound level didn't bother us too much. But there was sausage in a vegetarian pasta dish which could have been disastrous had we not been omnivores. But the chef came out to check, so that was worth some points.

T. Positano had a more subdued and classy atmosphere when I was there last year. I don't remember what I had now, but I was pleased with it.

I used to get great bread from Rosanna's, and sfollatelli too. I think they've gotten out of that business. Too bad.

And so on. I could go on. In the future I'll be more attentive, but for now it's just impressions. Maybe this subject is old to this board, but I'd be interested in a survey of these places. And no matter what you say, I really like Vigilucci's despite the small size. It's classy and has italian servers with infectious personalities.

Is anyone tracking this little subculture?

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  1. There is also Giovanni's on 101 which had (at least two years ago when I went the last time) very good homemade pasta.

    1. I know no one is posting or possibly reading this thread, but in the interest of completeness, here's a more complete list, from Cardiff north to Leucadia on 101, and South on El Camino:

      Trattoria Positano
      Cicciotti's (used to be part of Vigilucci's?? 'Giorgios'?)
      When in Rome
      Pino's (used to be Tomaso's)
      Trattoria i Trulli
      Bela Rosa (this is the one I called 'Rosanna's', it's on 101 near T. i Trulli. Same family as Tuscan Sun))
      Giovanni's
      Via Italia Trattoria (this is the one I called T. Italia.)
      Vigilucci's (101 and D)
      Leucadia Pizza (also has a location in Poway)
      Trattoria Gusto
      Trattoria Firenze
      Zibibbo's
      Tuscan Sun
      Buca di Beppo (chain, also in SD)
      Borelli's
      Russo's Pasta

      These are all in the city boundaries of Encinitas (except Buca). Seventeen Italian restaurants.

      These places range from casual (Russos and Giovanni's) to elegant (Positano and WiRome), American style (Borelli's and Leucadia) to more authentic (IMHO, and going out on a limb here: Vigilucci's and iTrulli).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Leucadian

        Someone is always reading posts. I asked this same question about three years ago.
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        There was a new place going in at Cardiff-by-the-Sea when I moved. Is it still there and have you tried it? That might be the place mentioned by another poster that tanked. However, it didn't seem like a really big place. Come to think of it there might actually be two Italian joints in tiny Cardiff.

        What is so noticable is the large percentage for a town that small. There's really not that large of an Italian community in Encinitas either ... five or six percent of the population.

        I asked at a few places and didn't get any answer. Didn't go into it more than that. There's an Italian Lodge-community thing in Encinitas, but that's all I know. This doesn't seem like a big fishing community so it is not that. Maybe some off-shoot of the flower industry? Were many Italians involved? On-line histories of Encinitas never seem to mention the Italian community.

        So did these joints change names or go out of business in the past three years?

        AMICI MORE THAN A BAKERY
        D'AMORE
        FRATELLIS PIZZA GROTTO
        NEW YORK PIZZA HOUSE
        OLYOS PIZZA
        PAPA TONIS PIZZA INC
        PASTA BRAVO
        PIZZICATO GOURMET PIZZA
        ROYAL PIZZERIA
        SANTINOS TRATTORIA
        Tony Macaroni Pizza & Pasta

      2. THanks. That's a useful list. For those I have tried here's how I rate them:

        Positano - B- When i was there 2 yrs ago they hd a poor wine list
        iTrulli - A- The best I've been to in the area. Large portions and very good food
        Leucadia - C A pizza, salad and sandwich shop. Decent but not really an Italian resteraunt
        When in Rome - C+ A little pretentious and wierd. So-so food. Pricey..
        Cicciotti's - C Owned by a former employee of Vigiluccis. Not memorable. Opened a restaurant down the road across from Cardff Beach, but quickly went under. Huge variety on menu but nothing very good and overpriced. Lasted a few months.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PGB

          I'll check on some of these names. I think most are still in business, but they are pizza places, so I didn't include them. Santino's closed a couple of years ago; it occupied the location of Matsuoka's which apparently is now also closed. Also closed is Grissini Grill in Leucadia. And Leucadia Pizzeria serves full meals now, very pleasant if not exciting.

        2. Well, yes, but even given that, it is an unusual number of Italian joints for such a small town.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rworange

            any possibility that restaurant investors have decided that italian places are what north county coastal residents like to eat when they go out? my guess is that, given the socio-economic class of most people living on the coast, italian is what they want when they decide to have a night out. or at least it's the best way to fill the tables from an investors point of view. or at least the least risky bet.

          2. For the most they are overpriced pretentious places that serve mediocre food at best. They stay in business because of the high prices and suckers that are willing to pay it. The menus have an abundance of cream sauces and prosciutto because thats what is trendy for high priced eaters and it certainly is not healthful. I have given up on going out for Italian its pathetic. I will admit to ocassionaly going to Buca di Beppo when they email me a $10 discount.

            1. In theory, if I were an Italian wanting to get out of Italy (can't imagine that, but just say I was...), southern California's Mediterranean climate and people with money who want to spend it on Italian food would be near the top of my list.