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out of town guests requesting italian pasta dinner-ideas?

I have a group of friends coming to san diego, thinking about moving here, and celebrating a 30th birthday. Need to find an impressive, not too expensive, high quality food italian restaurant in san diego. I realized I've never been out for pasta since moving here myself (make it myself)-so I'm wondering what suggestions there are?? we're willing to travel coronado to del mar (although, they're staying in the gaslamp). so far I've come up with: bencotto, trattoria acqua, arrivedeci hillcrest....

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  1. Mama Mia in Pacific Beach

    Lorna's Italian Kitchen in University City

    Cafe Bella Italia in Pacific Beach

    Cucina Urbana at 5th and Laurel (California influenced Italian).

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    Lorna's Italian Kitchen
    3945 Governor Dr, San Diego, CA 92122

    1 Reply
    1. re: Captain Jack

      I would skip Lorna's personally. Been there twice and was really not impressed with the quality. They seem to be more about quantity than quality and I would bet most of their food comes straight off the Sysco truck.

    2. Italian is really weak in SD. Arrivedeci is ok, I'd avoid Mama Mia's, too inconsistant and the staff can be a little crude.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cstr

        i know that italian is not a good SD choice, but my hands are tied-thats why i'm looking for advice

        1. re: smile81

          Of all the italian places I've eaten at in SD I would say Trattoria Acqua was my favorite. It's a bit pricey but the food is good. I like the arribiata pasta. The osso buco was also pretty good although I think that is a seasonal dish.

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          Trattoria Acqua
          1298 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037

        1. re: Fake Name

          Cucina Urbana - especially for a 30th birthday party. Place just seems "festive"

          1. re: Ewilensky

            Agreed, Cucina Urbana is going to be the best place that can accommodate a group, is furnished well, has a generally interesting menu, and can be fun. Leans more to the local/homemade foodie stuff too.

        2. Bencotto makes better pasta than Cucina Urbana, in my opinion. Very good service, but the waiter I had did a sneaky upselling of a few items that I would not have ordered, making for a $15 more expensive lunch bill. I pointed this out to him, and Valentina (the co-owner and PR lady) removed the charges from the bill and apologized for the "miscommunication."

          1. I would also suggest Bencotto and Cucina Urbana. CU would be a fun party atmosphere, but rsvp at least a week in advance. Trattoria Acqua has a brand new chef that has really dropped the ball IMHO.

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            Trattoria Acqua
            1298 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodiechick

              Hmm, I wasn't aware that Trattoria Acqua has a new chef. The couple times I ate there were a few years ago so definitely would have been with the old chef.

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              Trattoria Acqua
              1298 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037