Had a great time at the “Taste of little Italy 2017”. You have 4 hours to reach all your restaurants, 40 in total split into 2 different routes. We bought a ticket for each route, North and South. $40 per ticket, good deal considering your only paying $2 per taste at each place. We were worried that we wouldn’t get to all the places in time, but we did it in 3 hours, and the last hour we were super slowed down since we were struggling to fit everything in.
North Route: ( but this is not the order we went in)
Indigo Grill – Stuffed chicken with polenta cake and mole sauce. It was a little cold but still good. We’ve been there before and had eaten this dish before. It’s a great place for an option other than Italian food in that area.
Burger Lounge- choice between a grass fed beef burger or vegetarian quinoa burger. We got a whole burger, pretty good portion. I was so stuffed by this point I could not even eat one bite. Steve liked it, the bun looked good to me but I knew we had a few more stops to make before the end.
I-Dessert- make your own mini dessert with choice of chocolate or raspberry sauce, a number of gelato flavors and a few different mini meringues. We got chocolate, mocha, Oreo. Super good, I highly suggest going here when in town. It’s a special place to get a unique dessert, something you’ve never had before. Great for kids and adults, fun for a date night.
Iron side- shucked oysters. Nope
Prepkitchen- meatball with sauce on crostini. Tasty, maybe we’ll come here again, nice ambiance inside but not for kids.
Yougurtland- watermelon sorbet. Super tasty and flavorful, it was the perfect palate cleanser from everything else we were eating. Sample could have been bigger.
Napizza- your choice of pizza slice. Not bad, not great.
Cafe Italian- seriously the best cappuccino I’ve had, I couldn’t believe they were making drinks to order at this stop. Can’t wait to stop back in there.
Underbelly- pork bone broth with ramen, pulled pork, seaweed. Lots of flavor, better with the hot sauce. I personally don’t crave this type of food but if I did I would come back for more, it was super tasty.
Bolt Brewery- we skipped, just beer samples. I’m not a beer person, neither is Steve.
Oh Juice- they had a small table set up on the corner. It was kinda weird, we didn’t stop, they were just sampling juices, no jerky or granola as listed on the card. I couldn’t even see where their store was.
Puerto La Boca- skirt steak with Chimi-Churri and house Malbec. Wine was ok, nothing to rave about. Steak was good but Chimi-Churri had no heat and needed salt. I enjoy more punch with my Argentinian meals.
Pali Wine Co- wine samples and sundried tomato crostini. We started here so we could have a glass of wine while we were waiting for he event it start. We love this place, very inviting and relaxing. We typically go here first to have a glass of wine from tap before we go out to dinner in a typical date night.
Ballast Point- pretzel bites. So so good, you could really taste the rye in them.
Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen- short rib sliders, carnitas tacos, s’mores chocolate bar. This place was great; we never knew this place was there. I still think the S’mores bar was he best thing we had all night, wished I had 2 or 3. Tacos were great too, they had a bar set up where you could make your own. We were also invited to sit down here, most of the other stops you had to eat on the street.
Herb and Eatery Cafe- Thai chili ginger broth, chicken slider and strawberry basil gelato in a mini waffle cone. This place was awesome too! 3 tastes, good deal, and it all tasted really good. This place is the lunch cafe spot, and in the back is Herb&Wood the dinner restaurant spot. Looking forward to trying this one out.
Juniper & Ivy- smoked sturgeon and potato bread. Eeeh… I expected more. We’ve had dinner here before and was great. I think they could have represented their place a bit better. Like with their deviled egg. It’s ok; I won’t hold it against them, we will return.
The Crack Shack- chicken slider. It was good, especially with the Fresno chili in the slaw. Such a great casual place to get good sandwiches, good for kids, great atmosphere.
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters- coffee samples. Bummer they only gave out tiny little cups, hardly a sample. Especially after seeing what everyone else was giving out, all they could spare was about a dimes worth of coffee? It was good but I’m put off by their stinginess. I do like their place, cacti gardens in the tables.
Little Italy Loading Dock- bratwurst sandwich. Tasty. Another place I didn’t know about, it’s in the far north end of town. Good bar feeling.
Petrini’s – housemade sausage, pasta & sauce. It was ok; the owners said they were selling soon, so I’m not sure why they were even participating since the menu will change with the new owners. We won’t miss it.
Enoteca Wine Bar – 2 little 1/2 oz samples, nothing to even discuss. I already forgot about this place
The Kebob Shop – Grilled chicken w/saffron rice and sauce; really good. I could have eaten an entire plate, but was already super full by the time we got here. Sadly I would probably never eat here while in town, just because there are so many choices in this area, but maybe will visit the one in Mission Valley. I would recommend this place for sure.
Craft & Commerce – pork ribs w/slaw. Good. It was packed in there, so we didn’t get to see much. I’ve heard great things about this place, they even have a secret tiki room you have to get far in advance reservations for. We will be visiting here again. They just reopened after a huge 1+ yearlong renovation.
Romesco Mediterranean Cocina – Paella. Ehh. I’m super bummed that this place changed hands. Used to be Bracero, with amazing high end Mexican influenced menu. I think it’s the same chef that’s transforming it into a reinvention of a similar restaurant he has. We’ll have to see what the new concept is all about.
Isola Pizza Bar – pizza. Good.
Queenstown Public house – we skipped it. Too full, not enticed enough by it’s offering of Chili. Plus it’s a little off the beaten path.
Buon Appetito – gnocchi and sauce w/meatball, really good, super tender meatballs. One of the best, of the night. We actually tried going there once to eat but the wait was too long. It’s been there for a long time, making it one of the more popular older places there.
Davanti Enoteca – Corn salad, light, tasty and refreshing. We love this place. There are so many little plates you can order and enjoy with a bottle of wine. I suggest getting the giant ravioli in brown butter sauce. I still dream about this dish, having eaten it for the first time several years ago. They also have a sister restaurant in Del Mar by the Cineopolis, I think the menu is either the same or very similar.
Mimmo’s – portobello ravioli & cavatappi sausage in spicy cream sauce. So good. Another favorite of ours and locals, it’s been there forever. Everything I’ve ever had there is good, and authentic. They do wine Wednesdays w/ half off bottles. Fun to sit outside or inside if it’s not too hot, they don’t have air conditioning.
Filippi’s – pizza. ehh. actually not great at all. Maybe it was an off sampling, maybe it’s better when you actually go there to eat. I’m not sure; because this place has several restaurants around town which I would think they are good. But we both agreed that we’d probably not ever go there, there are several pizza places in town which are much better.
Ristorante Illando – pasta. Not good. Defiantly boxed pasta w/standard sauce. Not even sure why they were serving that. This is a pretty new place on top of Landini’s, which is great for a slice.
Civico 1845 – pesto pasta. good. This place is always busy too, but the menu doesn’t appeal to me, so we probably won’t ever go here.
The Glass Door – salmon cake. ehh, could have done better. great location, ride the elevator up to the top. It’s a little cramped up there by the bar/entrance, but the view of the harbor is great and nice casual seating.
Barbusa – pasta w/bolognese served in cheese rind. Good. Actually I thought was a poor representation of what this place has to offer. This is one of our favorites here, maybe #1. Been there already 3x since the beginning of this year. They have the best fried zucchini, polenta, gnocchi, carbonara, short ribs, lasagna… the list goes on and good drinks too.
Bencotto – ravioli w/pink sauce. Good as usual. Another great restaurant down there, maybe one of the most expensive in town. They make all their own pasta and have a clean modern atmosphere.
Monello – Pasta w/beef cheek ragu. tasty. We’ve never been here or even noticed it, it’s down past Bencotto. Menu looked good.
M Winehouse – wine samples, don’t even remember them
Cafe Gratitude – ceviche & chocolate coconut cream pie. Both good, nice to have a dessert option. Maybe we’ll check this place out sometime again.
Bar Bodega – I don’t remember, but it was bad, maybe something shrimp? I’m annoyed as well because they had great items listed on the card but then changed it. We were excited to go there but totally let down.
All in All it was an amazing event!!! I highly recommend doing this, as we will every year. It’s a lot of food, at the end we were thinking about what we could take home because we literally could not fit it in we were so stuffed an still had several places to hit. I suggest buying one of each route ticket so you don’t have to choose which places to go and can try them all. BUT if you don’t plan on spending 3-4 hours down there then maybe go with just one route, you can relax and don’t have to feel rushed. I can’t wait to see what’s on next years menu. Be sure to get your tickets fast, they usually start selling about 1 month out from the event held in the spring.