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What You Need to Eat in Little Italy, San Diego

19 October, 2018

Dining in San Diego presents a lot of delicious decisions. Authentic tacos? Homemade ravioli? Fresh seafood? It’s downright difficult to know where to eat in San Diego. So, to help you pick what to eat in our sunny city, we’ve distilled down our Top 5 Italian Dishes in San Diego.  Your taste buds will say grazie mille, folks.

   1. Oak-Fired, Neapolitan Pizza at ISOLA PIZZA BAR

Authentic Neapolitan pizza is an alchemy of tastes and textures — chewy dough + savory sauce + gooey mozzarella.  In Little Italy, San Diego, you can bite into a real Neapolitan pie at Isola Pizza Bar (1526 India Street). If you love pizza, this place is where you have to eat in San Diego.  Their slow-rise pizzas are fired fresh-to-order in a wood-fired oven.  For extra flavor, Isola‘s pizza-makers use only aged oak logs.  You’ll get that tasty char with your cheese.

Isola Pizza Bar San Diego


        2. Hand-Filled Cannoli at ROVINO

So, we venture to bet you’ve had a cannolo or two in your day.  But, you just don’t know how good this humble dessert can taste until you’ve tried the hand-filled treats at RoVino (2034 Kettner Blvd). One of the restaurant’s owners, our good friend Tom, fills them fresh to order — using ingredients imported from Sicily.  Honestly, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon a Sicilian nonna‘s secret sweet shop.  What’s better than the perfect cannolo?  Well, a sweet served with a glass of Italian dessert wine — we recommend the passito.  What’s more, Tom was born and raised in Little Italy, San Diego.

Cannoli San Diego


3.  Bolognese-Style Lasagna at BENCOTTO ITALIAN KITCHEN

When Americans think of lasagna, they typically envision red sauce and tons of ricotta.  For Italians, though, the king of lasagne is the one from Bologna — fresh egg pasta layered with a slow-simmered meat ragù, grated parmigiano cheese and creamy béchamel.  Cooked slowly until all the flavors (happily) marry, lasagne alla bolognese will change how you look at lasagna for the rest of your life.  And, the best version in San Diego is found at Bencotto Italian Kitchen (750 W Fir St #103),  whose executive chef — Fabrizio Cavallini — was born / raised / fed in the Italian region that invented this drool-worthy pasta.

Bolognese lasagna

4. Focaccia di Recco at DAVANTI ENOTECA

 One of the oft-overlooked reasons to eat in San Diego is “focaccia di Reco” at Davanti Enoteca (1655 India St) — a cheese-filled focaccia that you can usually only find in Italy’s Liguria region.  This flatbread’s paper-thin crust hugs a gooey-stretchy cheesy filling.  If a cracker and pizza had a tomato-free lovechild, you’d have focaccia di Recco.  The simplest of ingredients — flour, water, formaggio and extra virgin oil — blend to create this orchestra of textures and flavors.  Order it with a group of friends and be prepared to swoon.

Focaccia di Reco

5. Cheese-Wheel Pasta at MONELLO

There’s pasta and then there’s paaaaaaaaasta – the kind of noodles that make you say “aaahhhh.”  So, at San Diego’s Monello (750 W Fir St) , the kid brother of Bencotto Italian Kitchen, you can savor hand-crafted pastas like ravioli or fettuccine. But, if you’re really in the mood for that wow-worthy food experience in San Diego, order the “cheese wheel pasta.”  Really, one of the restaurant’s skilled chefs will literally sauce your pasta for you inside a wheel of imported Italian cheese.  Say arrivederci to the green-canned “parmesan” and hello to palate-pleasing parmigiano. This is absolutely where to eat in San Diego.

Cheese Wheel


Sure, you could spend $483 and eat in all these places on your own. Or, you could just sign up for one of our tasty food tours of Little Italy. You’ll unlock where to eat in San Diego minus the hassle of standing in line.

Delicious details here:

Our guide was simply amazing!!! He was well animated, very accommodating, and extremely personable. He was quite a character, in a fun and exciting way. I have nothing but positive things to say about my tour experience. I highly recommend choosing Little Italy Tours to be your tour guide! — VM, Bonita, CA
This is a MUST See and Do attraction in SD. Even members of our group who were born here, were blown away by the City and Neighborhood's History and stories. It was like we were transported back in time. The company and our guide did an Amazing Job!!! Our Group of 20+ can't stop raving about it! —Lisa B. Chula Vista, CA
What a ball! My colleagues and I took the Little Italy tour for our office party and a bit of team-building. We had so much fun. Our guide was amazing. We learned so much about pizza and Italian cuisine and Little Italy's influence in San Diego. We ate, we learned, we drank, and we had a ball! I would highly recommend taking a tour with Little Italy. Grazie mille!!! — Robin D. San Diego, CA
What an amazing and engaging tour guide we had! The best of the best! I feel in love with Italy all over again. The pizza, pasta and gelato was as tasty as could be. Their cooking class is next on my list. Ciao! —Marlo V. Las Vegas, NV
My work department did this tour as part of our holiday celebrations and had a great time! Our tour guide was very informative and energetic. We learned all about where pizza came from and each stop taught us something new and allowed us to try pizza from a different region. You will leave full and educated! —Sheila S. Boston, MA
Best hour and a half out of a 9 day trip. Thanks to our guide for an entertaining and informative tour of Little Italy! —Duane L. Duluth, MN
We had a WONDERFUL tour this morning with our guide!! We all, ages from 14 to 53, had such a special and fun time learning about the history of Little Italy... We will DEFINITELY schedule something else with this group. It was truly the highlight of our vacation! —Suzy H. Irvine, CA
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