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Italian food in san diego

I still haven't found a good italian spot in San Diego. I've had a few good meals at Caffe Bella Italia and Trattoria I Trulli but neither of them were that great. My favorite past sauces are vodka cream sauce, pesto, and arrabiata which is a spicy tomato sauce. If anybody knows where to get these done well or if you just know of any italian places I should try in general please let me know. I would love to be able to enjoy a great italian meal once a week.

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    1. re: Josh

      What dishes do you reccomend getting there and hows the bread they serve? Also do they have a website because I just tryed looking them up.

      1. re: lovesfood11

        I doubt they have a website, they're pretty old-school. I haven't been there in a while, but I remember having a shrimp pasta dish (I think it was one of the evening's specials) that was very nice. Huge shrimp, but cooked just to the point of doneness, so still quite juicy. Bread was good, too.

        You might also like Buon Appetito in Little Italy.

        1. re: lovesfood11

          Here's a link to their menu - http://www.sandiegorestaurants.com/me...

          I don't think they have an actual web site.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            I've been by there 100's of times but never been, looked at their menu through the link, it's an old school menu, quite pricey. I'll pass on Baci but, will try Antica Trattoria recommended by AQ.

            1. re: cstr

              Here's the link for Antica Trattoria, and it is very good


              1. re: DiningDiva

                Thanks, DD, menu looks good, now that's a fair price point per plate for 'Old School Italian'. I think I'll give it a try this Sat.

                1. re: cstr

                  Do give it a try, I think you'll like it. I haven't been for a while, but it's usually pretty consistent.

      2. For some very good (but not outstanding) Northern Italian food try Barolo.


        Piatti is doing also some good dishes. If they have a risotto special I highly recommend it.

        1. Since your tastes seem to favor more old school Italian (vodka cream sauce is actually an Italian American/NY dish), you might try Manhattan restaurant in La Jolla -- it's apptly named.

          I also recommend Trattoria Positano in Cardiff and Trattoria Aqua in La Jolla.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wanker

            I've heard of the Manhattan restaurant. Isn't it kind of new?and do you know if they have a website?

            1. re: lovesfood11

              Manhattan is very old. It's been there for at least 25 years.

          2. Have you tried Arrivederci or Antica Trattoria? Arrivederci has two locations, one in Hillcrest and one that recently opened in East County. I haven't been to the Hillcrest location in a long time, but our recent meal at the East County location was very good. Antica Trattoria - it's kind of old school, and I think they would have what you're looking for. Good espresso too!

            11 Replies
            1. re: Alice Q

              I haven't tryed either. But I was thinking about checking Arrivederci out this friday because there menu seems to have what I'm looking for. Hopefully the quality of their food is good.

              1. re: Alice Q

                Is the east county location also called arrivederci? I looked on their website and they only had the hillcrest location listed. I am always on the lookout for new places when we make treks out to the in-laws.

                1. re: littlestevie

                  I believe so - I called the Hillcrest location and they told me it was open and gave me the number - I called, and placed the order by phone. I saw it before they opened, but I haven't been down there since - it's in the Target shopping center in Rancho San Diego - between Target and the movie theater.

                2. re: Alice Q

                  It's been a while since I've been at the Hillcrest location (October), but it was a pretty disappointing experience. The noise level was deafening and we had to wait almost an hour despite reservations.

                  Food-wise, I had the spinach gnocchi in blue cheese cream sauce. It was ok and a bit on the bland side. The house bread was incredibly salty to the point where it was almost inedible.

                  Glad to hear the East County location is good! Is the restaurant larger than the Hillcrest location?

                  1. re: geekyfoodie

                    I made resevations at the Arrivederci in Hillcrest for Friday night do you think I should cancel? Because I wouldn't want to go there and have okay pasta and horrible bread. Also what places do you reccomend instead of Arrivederci?

                    1. re: lovesfood11

                      9 times out of 10 Arrivederci in Hillcrest is pretty reliable. I think Geekyfoodie had the misfortune to be there on a bad night. I think I'd be inclined to give it a try and decide if I liked it or not and form my own opinions about the place.

                      1. re: lovesfood11

                        Lovesfood11, I'd say Dining Diva's advice applies to all chow. Definitely take all recommendations with a grain of salt and try it anyway. One 'Hound's crap is another's regular haunt, which is part of the beauty of food... we'll all find something we love, no matter where we look.

                        Reservations are excellent, especially on the weekend. I would also say that it's best to go with smaller parties (4 or less). My best experience at that location was just me and BF and a pretty good squid ink risotto.

                        They have a pizzeria a few blocks away and I'd say my best Arrivederci experience came there. Great pizzas and not as noisy as the primary Hillcrest branch.

                        1. re: geekyfoodie

                          Thanks for the rec. I will form my own opinions about that place but I just got worried when you said the bread ws unedible because that is something I enjoy a lot before the meal when its good. Also you can judge a oot about a restaurant by the bread they serve. But I will keep my reservation for Friday night.

                      2. re: geekyfoodie

                        Actually we got the food to go, so I haven't eate in the restaurant yet, but my husband said it was packed and very small. The dishes I liked were the chicken lasagna, a special that had langostino in a "pink cream sauce" (this was over the phone) and their penne bolognese. I took some photos, but I haven't put them on flickr yet. If I can remember, I will post links.

                        1. re: Alice Q

                          Alright thanks thats good to hear that they have a good pink sauce.

                    2. My favorite Italian places are: Arreviderci (not spelled properly), Buon Appetitio, Harry's Bar, Piatti and occasionally for good Italian American de Medici downtown--don't laugh I have actually always had well priced tasty meals!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: jturtle

                        What dishes do you like at Arreviderci?

                        1. re: lovesfood11

                          I actually almost always get this baked eggplant appetizer as my mains but have tried most of the entrees and they were always solid. I also like their tiramisu which isn't as sweet as most American renditions.

                          1. re: jturtle

                            Have you tryed there penne arribiata, pesto or vodka cream and if so which do you think is the best out of those three?

                      2. I'd never had Vodka Cream Sauce until I tried it at Lotsa Pasta in Pacific Beach. It was delicious and I could pick whatever pasta I wanted to put it on. Since I've never had it anywhere else, I don't know if it is the best or not. I don't have anything to compare it to but I've been back for it twice since and it is consistently good!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LisaSD

                          I'll have to try that place because I'm in Pacific Beach a lot. But yeah vodka cream sauces is one of the best pasta sauces when its made good.

                        2. my GF likes the vodka cream sauce at Arrivederci. I like it there too but I agree with geekyfoodie, it gets extremely loud and very cramped in there. If you don't want to deal with the Gaslamp or Little Italy it is a consistent food-quality-wise.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: MrKrispy

                            Basically I just want the best food experience I'm not really worried about the noise that much.

                            1. re: lovesfood11

                              Not that it matters, but there is also an Arrivederci on Santo Road in Tierrasanta, 1st block from the 52. Saw it on Tuesday.

                          2. The Venetian in Point Loma is excellent and in North County Joe's in Escondido is also excellent. I am originally from NY so I take my Italian food very seriously. I use Chicken Parm as a litmus test when eating at new restaurants in San Diego. Where in San Diego are you looking for an Italian Restaurant?

                            Encinitas is filled with great Italian food and there are several restaurants under the Viggiluci's name that have exceptional Italian food and excellent atmosphere/service.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: knickin

                              Joe's in Escondido is not bad but has not much to do with Italian food. It is americanized food, e.g. their Spaghetti Carbonara taste not bad but has absolutely nothing to do with Spaghetti Carbonara. (no eggs etc.)

                              1. re: knickin

                                Anywhere in San Diego as long as its good preferably though in a nice area so I can do something in that area and not just eat dinner there.

                                1. re: knickin

                                  It is true that there are many Italian restaurants in Encinitas. I disagree about Viggiluci's being exceptional, however. I have eaten there a couple of times (both Encinitas and Leucadia) and thought it was good, not great.

                                  Last night we tried Giovanni's in Encinitas for the first time. It was good, portions were big, felt much more down-home and comfortable than any of the other Italian Restaurants we have eaten at. However, I think the prices there are a bit high for what it is, but I think the prices everywhere are high.

                                  My favorite Italian is Russo's Pasta In Encinitas, but that is mostly take out with just a few tables in the store to dine at (we have dined in and taken out). Their pasta is the freshest and best I have ever had anywhere (I have not traveled to Italy), and their sauces are fabulous.

                                  I am curious about Trattoria Gusto in Encinitas.

                                  1. re: Enorah

                                    Ate there once, good not great, and a bit pricey for the food. A strange location and very hidden. I am amazed that place still stays open with all the competition down on coast highway. You might want to check out Pino's down in the Lumberyard. Old school Italian. My trainer who is Italian by way of Chicago thinks it is the best in Encinitas.

                                    1. re: littlestevie

                                      Hey thanks!

                                      I'm from Chicago originally, and my next door neighbors were hard core Italian. LOL

                                      We ate at their house a lot

                                    2. re: Enorah

                                      Although I haven't been to their new location in Encinitas since they moved from Clairemont Square, I always thought that Pizzeria Via Italia (Trattoria Via Italia in Encinitas) was quite good. It's a more Northern Italian though.

                                      I also agree about Vigilluci's: Good, but not great. Definitely not worth a special trip to North County for me.

                                      1. re: Enorah

                                        I also went to Trattoria Gusto once, for lunch. My recollection is similar to littlestevie--decent but felt overpriced. I remember thinking that I could cook equal to or better than them.

                                      2. re: knickin

                                        The Venetian is a very popular/busy restaurant in Point Loma, but do not be fooled, the food is mediocre. If you want large portions of mediocre food, this is your place. I ate there last weekend and will not be returning. The best thing about the Venetian is the bartender; he has a few nice wines and offers a generous pour.

                                      3. Baci is fantastic.They bring out a hot loaf of garlic bread to your table and also specialize in veal dishes. Excellent cannoli's for dessert. You can't go wrong here.

                                        I also happen to enjoy Salvatore's downtown. Very flavorful sauces though the ambience is a bit hokey.

                                        For inexpensive old school Italian with good sauces and the only restaurant in Little Italy that I recommend, Mona Lisa isn't bad.

                                        1. Try Acqua Al 2. It's on 5th Ave between J and K. There is a 5 course pasta sampler, which will easily feed 3 people for dinner, that is phenomenal. It give you a chance to have several different types of sauces and several different kinds of pastas. Definitely not mainstream "angel hair". After spending 2 weeks in Italy, this is by far the closest thing to authentic Italian food I have found. They have a sister location in Florence, which I'm sure helps. They serve their bread in brown bags still warm, and they have a wine list that is good for people who are not "winos" and those that read Wine Spectator and can list off ratings. Let me know what you think...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Purseaholic83

                                            I can't vouch for the Acqua al Due in San Diego, but I've been to the one in Florence (twice) and we absolutely loved it. We loved it so much that after the first time we went back two nights later even though we had a limited amount of time in Florence. I can't wait to try the one in San Diego some time (whenever I finally get a chance to visit San Diego).

                                          2. It's a long way from downtown San Diego, but Ciao in Vista has a penna ala vodka that's really good. It's a pomodoro cream vodka sauce with bacon.

                                            1. If you're willing to cook for yourself, Asenti Pasta on India (next to an Argentinian place, across from Mona Lisa) has some beautiful homemade, fresh pasta. There are even several stuffed varieties as well. There is also a limited grocery selection, as well as a nice wine and cheese selection. The prices are reasonable, but beware, they only accept cash (but there's an ATM in the store with a low fee). They will even help you with ideas on how to best prepare the pastas.