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Best Upscale Italian San Diego

I'm looking for a great Italian place to send a friend to. My favorite is Trattoria Acqua in La Jolla, but I was wondering if you all had any other suggestions?

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  1. I love Baci's..
    de Medici's is also quite good..
    there is another one in the Gaslmap...Osteria Panevino's..it's been awhile.
    I really enjoy Trattoria Acqua too..

    5 Replies
      1. re: Beach Chick

        I have not tried it myself but multiple people have told me that they enjoyed their meals at Old Venice in Point Loma. I liked Alexander's in North Park. The food was good, although it was a bit loud in there. It is not a fancy place but the food quality/selection was better than most Italian places I have been in town.

        1. re: sdaints

          Haven't tried Alexander's yet, but found Old Venice to be really disappointing. Everything on the menu sounded really good, and the atmosphere was very nice, but the food wasn't so great. I thought Baci was better, but am anxious to try Antica Toscana.

          1. re: Josh

            If you go to Old Venice stick to pizza. Salads are ok but annoying because they bring you a plate piled high with greens to the point of falling off the plate; dressing is served on the side. Its all very awkward. Once time I asked to have the salad tossed with dressing in the kitchen. "No" was the answer. Pizza is good though. Dont order pasta.

        2. re: Beach Chick

          Trattoria Acqua is one of the best Italian restaurants I have been to. The service is also first class. I don't think there is a better Italian restaurant in San Diego, but I think the restauratns in La Jolla are by far much better than downtown.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Agree w/DD on this one...Trattoria Antica is our favorite. Baci's is also good.

          2. I like Vivace at the Four Seasons Aviara.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Juji

              I agree with the choice of Vivace. I would also like to add Firenze Trattoria in Encinitas. They have great food and a large selection of wines.

              1. re: softpap

                Firenze Trattoria is hit or miss but when its good its real good. I love their signature pasta Rigatoni alla Vodka e Fungi the sauce is incredible, and every bite is enjoyable. The only dish I really have disliked is the Spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs were dry and the sauce was like any pasta sauce out of a can.

            2. Piatti's in La Jolla is quite good.

              5 Replies
              1. re: daantaat

                "Piatti's in La Jolla is quite good."

                I'm not sure that hits the "upscale" request, though.

                1. re: RB Hound

                  yeah, I'd have to agree w/ you. It's more on the casual side, although not that more upscale than Trattoria Acqua.

                  1. re: daantaat

                    Thank you all! Your suggestions are very helpful. I love this board. Cheers!

                    1. re: daantaat

                      I think you meant "not that less upscale than Trattoria Acqua", with which I'd agree (TA's menu is a bit fancier than Piatti's, but they are both on the casual end IMO).

                      I guess we should get a definition for "upscale", though. In my mind, it would be "the best food with price not being a large factor".

                      1. re: RB Hound

                        Yes, I did mean that. My verbal skills go down the more tired I am.

                        My definition of "upscale" is a place where you'd need to be in at least business clothing to look appropriate. AR Valentien, Tapenade, George's (downstairs), Mister A's, Market, Blanca, Addison all fall into my definition.

                2. Here's a second vote for Antica Trattoria. I was there last night and had housemade sacchette (beggar's purse shaped pasta) stuffed with wild mushrooms in a cherry tomato sauce with asparagus and sausage. I literally had to fight off my dining companions who kept attacking my dish with their forks. Dinner for three with appetizers, wine, and a great cannoli was $115.

                  1. Arrivederci in Hillcrest is my personal favorite.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jmtreg

                      I like Arrivederci but the space they have is way to cramped.

                      1. re: lovesfood11

                        I like Bon Appetito in South Little Italy!

                    2. Last year, I had a great meal at Gemelli in Banker's Hill. It was a Friday evening and service, food and wine were great for our party of six. I had the veal saltimbocca and a delicious cheesecake desert. A couple of my friends had some good seafood ravioli. Overall, I think the place has nice ambiance, and represents a nice neighborhood find that's not in the maelstrom of downtown or Little Italy.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Maxmdwinter

                        Gemelli's is RIDICULOUSLY over-priced. Their food is okay, but certainly not in line with what they charge. I remember ordering two "special-of-the-day salads" last time I was there...average sized plates of greens, fruit and a few nuts with a very small portion of mediocre steak...for $22! Each! At lunch!

                        I personally like Stingaree for upscale Italian. Yes, it's not "traditional" Italian, but the food is always great, beautifully presented, and inventive. Traditional Italian, by nature, is not upscale. Antica Trattoria, while wonderful, is hardly upscale. I don't have a problem showing up there in flip-flops. Same with Arrivederci. Stingaree always feels like a night out. It's one of the very few places I frequent downtown.

                        1. re: 1HotTomato

                          Isn't Gemelli's also owned by one of the Bussalacchi's (i.e. chain food?)....my dish there was OK, but what struck me as funny was that the veal dish I ordered arrived at my table less than 3 minutes after I ordered it, giving me the impression it might have been pre-cooked.

                          1. re: El Chevere

                            I think Gemelli's is owned by a Bussalachi cousin or uncle, not Joe or his brother. I have heard and read nothing but negative reviews speaking to pricing and just so-so food, which is why we have not ventured out to try it.

                            1. re: El Chevere

                              Gemelli's is owned by Joe Bussalachi's cousin which apparently started some family feud. We've been there a couple times and it's good/ok but no more. I like Bussalacchi's better. Having said that, Po Pazzo (Joe's newer place) is not all that, imho. Cafe Bella Italia is way overpriced for the venue and service and the food was just ok.
                              I like: Sante's-LJ, Acqua al 2, Trattoria la strada if you want to do $$, but nothing in SD has really compared in any way to Tuscana, alas.

                              1. re: El Chevere

                                As others have stated, Gemelli's is part of the Busallachi clan, and as such, they do hearty southern Italian much better than refined northern Italian. For instance, I've found their Bolognese, Puttanesca and fennel salad quite good (arguably the best of those that I've had in San Diego), and relatively reasonable, and would go back there for those specific items. Their entrees have been far less successful, especially their fish, which I would avoid.

                              2. re: 1HotTomato

                                Good call on Stingaree top food and Tues - Thurs you get 3 courses for $ 30

                            2. I like Pasquales in La Jolla very much. great food,,and atmosphere. nice upscale place to go.

                              We also really like Sante in La Jolla. Their lasagna is the best ever,not a red sauce.A nice dining room as well.. Live music in the bar area,which is also nice to sit in.