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Sep 19, 2011 03:17 PM

La Villa, Little Italy, Recently Opened

I guess they have been opened for 4 days or so. (Dinner only, but soon for lunch).

Address is 1646 India Street where that lightings and furnishings place was, right next to Ironside and across the street from Buon Appetito.

Nice little outdoor patio, set back from the street.

Looks to have a full bar as well.

Some menu offerings:

Amberjack Crudo
Crispy Pigs Head
Handmade Orecchiette with Ox Tail
Sea Urchin Risotto
Rabbit Two Ways

Anyone been?

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  1. No, though I've heard that they're operated by the same folks as Buon Appetito... Between the BA folks and the Busalachi clan, they'll soon dominate most of Little Italy.

    Buon Appetito
    1609 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

    1. Walked by Saturday afternoon, but obviously too early for dinner service. Cute place, look forward to trying it. Also, had a very nice lunch at Davanti Enoteca. Worth a try, but I probably would not go at dinner as they don't take reservations for parties smaller than eight.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodiechick

        Dropped into Davanti a couple of weeks ago to take a look at their menu, though I wasn't looking for a meal at the time.

        Was really impressed by its sheer simplicity & authenticity. Impressed enough to take a photo:

        OK all joking aside, here's their real menu:

      2. Stopped by this place for dinner.

        Decent service.

        Ordered 4 items.

        Lamb meatballs, salad (apples, blue cheese) and another dish that I can't remember were all pretty good.

        Crispy Pigs Head was a big disappointment. It was covered with a breading that made it seem cheap, like something microwaved. Greasy.

        They should have just served the meat with no breading.

        Also, there was a Amuse-bouche of carrot foam that was lackluster.

        Average wine list with not many wines by the glass. Average priced.

        All in all, not a great place, but a decent addition to Little Italy.

        8 Replies
        1. re: stevewag23

          Found Davanti to be very mediocre, Iowa Italian. Very pretty interior but that's about it. I'll refer to their pizza as Fillipi's lite--lots of doughy, soggy bread with lots of melted cheese and not much in terms of flavor. Had a bruschetta that contained aspargus and mushrooms instead of traditional finely chopped tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, oregano,salt and pepper that authentic Italian restaurants serve. The owner of this restaurant is from Chicago and while he also owns a critically claimed restaurant in the Windy City called The Purple Pig, he is also behind a mediocre chain there called Francesca's.....I would come here for a drink (though the bar is real small) and definitely not the food.

          I have yet to dine at La Villa, but I had a glass of wine and really enjoyed the ambience and decor. Like Davanti, it has an outdoor, open air courtyard area where you can dine. Will report back on miy findings. Same owner as Buon Appetito.

          Buon Appetito
          1609 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

          1. re: El Chevere

            That is too bad about Davanti.

            I have heard great things about The Purple Pig.

            How does this guy hit it out of the park in Chicago and strike out in san diego?

            1. re: stevewag23


              a) He didn't understand the market in which he was opening
              b) Assumed enough people in SD had been to CHI and were sophisticated enough to understand what he was doing
              c) Saw and underserved market and thought his concept would fill a niche
              d) Assumed that since the Cubs and White Sox only make the World Series about as often as the Padres, that it was a perfect fit
              e) Assumed that since the Bears sometimes make noises about being in contention for the Super Bowl, and the Charges sometimes make noises about being in contention for the Super Bowl that the locals were similar to Chicagoans
              f) Not doing enough market research
              g) Came in, dropped the concept in place and has since returned to Chicago and lef the place in the hands of local management (who may or may not have been to Chicago)
              h) Assumed that San Diego had turned a major food corner and was ready for Chicago style ideas, concepts and food
              i) Arrogance. If it worked in CHI it's bound to work in SD
              j) All of the above
              k) none of the above

              1. re: DiningDiva

                Heh, you covered a lot of bases there, but I think the correct one is G.

                We went and found the food to be extremely disappointing. Bice is better, and I'm not wild about Bice.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  Let me give a different take or analogy....Purple Pig is to standalone Wolfgang Puck eatery such as original Spago or Chinois whereas Francesca's / Davanti is to Wolfgang Puck Express.

                2. re: stevewag23

                  Purple Pig is a standalone restaurant (good) vs. his mediocre chain Francescas--I've eaten at a Francesca's in Naperville, IL and was underwhelmed....this place is a lot closer to Francescas than it is Purple Pig. Guess he's expanding too fast. It's ashame, because the design, including outdoor/cabana-like, is nice and I want it to succeed.

              2. re: stevewag23

                Sounds exactly like the crispy pigs head small plate we had at Animal in LA, though that one was pretty good.

                1. re: Josh

                  Yeah, I wouldn't mind someone else's opinion on it but I thought it was pretty sub-par.

                  And I love pig. Hell, I would eat pig raw if they would serve it.

              3. I like the place; nice ambiance. Big chef's table in the back kitchen (they offered me a short tour of the place. Great bar staff. Very good pastas and pizzas with housemade topping; also had a tasty rabbit entree; very authentic. Had the amuse bouche ot the day with "congealed grapefruit molecular gastronomy, (humboldt fog??) cheese, avocado, candied walnuts"; also amberjack crudo topped pork belly. So....maybe they are trying a bit too hard. I've been there 4 times, however, and they seem to be settling in to a good groove. I'll be back. I have a .mov video of the barman describing these 2 dishes, but I don't know how to upload this type of file. I'll email it to anybody who feels the need.

                1. Went tonight.

                  In a word: meh.

                  In more words: some items sound pretty interesting, but execution is unremarkable. It's much better than the dreadful Il Postino, and better than Davanti Enoteca, but I doubt I'll go back.

                  Very expensive for what you get, IMO.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Josh

                    La Villa looks so pretty from the street, lit up at night. The way restaurants used to look before NOISE and ENTERTAINMENT (aka bogus themes and house cocktails) hijacked dining out. Very old-school in a happy-memories sort of way. I'm sorry the food doesn't measure up. But why would a great chef slave in such a place, when he can be a Celebrity with an Empire? (excuse my hobby horse.)

                    1. re: pickypicky

                      Actually - I'm going to revise my comments: for the price, most of the food was unremarkable.

                      I did like the pizza quite a bit, and I would go back for that. Just not the other stuff.