Aqua al 2 in San Diego
I was in town this weekend at a conference and had the great luck of having dinner at Aqua al 2 in the Gaslamp District. I had eaten at the sister restaurant in Florence when I was studying abroad, and that was the best meal I had that whole semester.
For appetizers, we had a house salad, Caprese salad, arugula salad, and gnocchi with gorgonzola. The arugula salad (my dish) was great, with plenty of shaved cheese. It came undressed, and I was delicious even without the offered oil and vinegar. The cheese in the Caprese was softer and creamier than most fresh mozzarella, and it was a real treat. The gnocchi were very tasty (and I hate gorgonzola), although a little on the heavy side.
We all ordered the Filetto all'Aceto Balsamico for our entrees. We had all had this item in Italy a few years ago and have been craving it since. The steaks were tender and cooked exactly to order. The sauce, a mix of balsamic vinegar reduction and port wine reduction, was rich and delicious. If I could put it on everything I eat, I would. We kept thinking there was some chocolate in it, but it was the port that was giving it that flavor.
For dessert, we had the tiramisu, 2 creme brulees, and one friend ordered a second filet (I told you it was good). The creme brulee was very tasty, although I only had a bite. The tiramisu was not the best - there was a lot of ground espresso in the different layers, and it was too gritty alongside the creamy marscapone. It came with a small biscotti, which I think was made in-house... very tasty, and not too hard.
We also ordered two bottles of house Chianti which was tasty, but ended up being too expensive for our student/recent grad pockets.
The waitstaff was very nice and incredibly talkative when we said we had eaten in the Florence restaurant. They were very accomodating to our requests and couldn't have been more helpful.
Aqua al 2 would be my first stop if I come back to San Diego in the future.