Hip Italian Food at Pan Bon

Pan Bon

Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Pan Bon has made its grand entrance on the quaint streets of San Diego’s Little Italy with a décor that was studied to pair the modern trend of décor of all restaurants in San Diego with the traditional yet hip Italian food prepared by Executive Chef Riccardo Brentegani. 

Pan Bon

Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Pan Bon’s euro-contemporary setting boasts high ceilings, an open floor plan and an elegant, yet simple design that welcomes visitors to enjoy a meal or a variety of grab-and-go options. Upstairs, a scenic mezzanine is available to host guests for private parties and intimate dining experiences. The demonstration kitchen is the true focal point in the restaurant, allowing diners to watch the chef bring his culinary masterpieces to life.

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Bice Chef Reveals Italian Culinary Trends

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Prosciutto And Specialty Cheese Bar

Featuring an art deco interior design, Bice Ristorante introduces new and innovative Italian fine dining in downtown San Diego. “The restaurant has a personality all its own,” says Chef de Cuisine/Pastry Francesca Penoncelli. “Images of my Italian homeland are showcased in subtle ways throughout the restaurant, reminding me of my deep roots.”

BICE FINAL

3 Cheese Platter with Piave Vecchio, Boschetto al Tartufo, Pecorino Cacio e Pere and Prosciutto

After studying in Italy for five years at the culinary institute in Piedmont, Penoncelli spent every free moment in the kitchen, including working for free on holidays and summer vacations, simply to gain experience and obtain new knowledge. “Being a young lady in the culinary world isn’t easy, ” she says. “As a woman in Italy, in order to earn the respect and appreciation from the men, you must be better then them. For me, it means working hard alongside great, but tough chefs.”

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New Spring and Summer Menu at Bottega

San Diego Food Finds Bottega AmericanoAs the seasons change and the weather grows warmer, people are longing for light and refreshing cocktails and dishes to satisfy their taste buds. Executive Chef David Warner at Bottega Americano, has created new menu items bursting with bright colors and fresh flavors.

Start off your meal strong with spring and summer sippers inspired by Italian classics and served with a modern twist. Grab a seat at the bar and sip a Bottega Seasonal Cocktail with Bols Genever, ginger beer, mulberries, blackberries and mint, or toast to the sweet life with the La Dolce Vita. One taste of our blend of pear infused vodka, Carpano Bianco, cucumber, mint, grapefruit bitters and lime will instantly transport you to Lido Beach.

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My Not So Creamy Seafood Fettuccine

San Diego Food FindsMy seafood fettuccine is a very light dish that’s easy to prepare. My version isn’t as creamy as you would normally expect. I like to keep it simple with extra-virgin olive oil, butter and fresh herbs. Make sure to get a fresh baguette for extra dipping.

Get 25 of my authentic Italian recipes in my new book San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History Of Little Italy And beyond.

Not So Creamy Seafood Fettuccine

Serves 4

  • 2 cans minced clams
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces cocktail shrimp, precooked
  • 6-ounce can crab meat
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound fettuccine, cooked according to package instructions
  • Pecorino-Romano cheese, grated (as much as you like), for garnish
  • Handful of freshly chopped basil, for garnish

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Grandma’s Italian Soup Recipe Is Still A Family Favorite

Growing up in a large Italian family, I learned how to respect tradition and embrace family ties through cooking. My mother took the fresh produce my father created and taught me how to prepare cucina Italiana by smell, touch and taste. As a child watching her in the kitchen, I was fascinated with the movement of her hands as she wove intricate details into preparing the made-from-scratch, mouthwatering meals that her mother had served, and her mother before her.

I’ve provided some of my favorite Italian recipes in my new book San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond.  Many of the recipes were handed down from my mother’s kitchen, including the following Italian soup.

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Wine Dinner at Cucina Enoteca

Wine DinnerOn April 6th, Del Mar’s CUCINA enoteca will exclusively join forces with Sonoma’s hottest wine renegades, Scribe Winery and Banshee Wines, for a no holds barred dining event with Chef de Cuisine Rosa Geremia featuring eight wines, four courses and a night of revelry with Scribe’s Mariani brothers (Andrew & Adam) + the Banshee Boys (Noah Dorrance, Baron Ziegler & Steve Graf).

Beacons of the new California wine movement, these young Sonoma-based winemakers are staking their own path, challenging conventions and bringing with them a fresh perspective for a new generation of viticulture enthusiasts. In collaboration with one of San Diego’s most acclaimed wine-centric restaurants, both wineries will hit the road on April 5th & 6th for a dual winemaker dinner series through SoCal, where they’ll stop off at CUCINA’s sister location in Newport Beach for a unique dining event on April 5th before heading down to CUCINA’s Del Mar outpost. 

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Wake Up The Italian Way

Italian

Wake Up Your Daily Morning Routine with All New Hot Breakfast at Bottega Americano

Start your weekday mornings right at Bottega Americano and enjoy the acclaimed restaurant’s new hot breakfast menu. The crowd pleasing selection of satisfying dishes ranging from scrambles to bowls to smashes are now available Monday through Friday from 7:30a.m. to 10:30a.m.

The new breakfast dishes include:

  • Cheddar Biscuit Sandwich: fried egg, Bottega aioli with a choice of prosciutto cotto, sausage, bacon or fried chicken
  • Bacon & Eggs: or sausage and two eggs on a grilled ciabatta roll.
  • Chilaquiles: two eggs, guajillo chile sauce, ricotta, corn tortillas.
  • Bottega Scramble: eggs, five herb pesto, oven roasted tomatoes, burrata, grilled ciabatta.
  • Avocado Smash: grilled ciabatta, basil, sea salt, cracked black pepper, over easy egg, EVOO.
  • Breakfast Bowl: two eggs, mushrooms, quinoa, butternut squash, smoked almonds, goat cheese.
  • Breakfast Wrap: eggs, potatoes, oven roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, spinach wrap.
  • Bottega Americano also offers a daily selection of grab and go items, baked goods, coffee and espresso drinks starting at 7:30a.m Monday thru Friday. Weekend brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 10a.m to 3p.m.

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Perfectly Baked Lasagna Recipe

lasagna

Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

When it comes to the perfect casserole dish, baked lasagna tops my list. This dish of alternating layers of pasta sheets, topped with a flavorful sauce and cheese, is easy to assemble, tastes delicious and is always a crowd-pleaser.

There are a number of theories on where the popular name was born, but most references agree the word originated in the Greek language for flat, unleavened bread or pasta dough cut in sheets. The Romans used a similar word lasanum, the Latin word for “cooking pot,” to describe the pan in which the dish is made. Later, the name was adopted for the food itself.Different regions in Italy serve lasagna in various ways. In Northern Italy, a typical lasagna recipe has a Béchamel sauce as its base, with the addition of vegetables such as spinach, eggplant or mushrooms. I prefer the Southern Italian version with its hallmark use of ricotta cheese and a traditional Bolognese sauce that can include ground beef, pork sausage or veal.

I serve my lasagna with red wine and a crusty Italian bread. Add a fresh green salad of escarole and romaine lettuces dressed with balsamic vinaigrette and dinner is served.

Buon Appetito!

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Fresh Italian at Trattoria Fantastica

San Diego Food FindsOpened in 1995, this is the perfect choice if you’re in the mood to savor great Italian fare in a more rustic, country farm house atmosphere. Located adjacent to the casual Café Zucchero, Trattoria Fantastica offers a more refined dining experience. Wood-fired pizzas are the centerpiece of the menu, but plenty of salads and pastas are offered, as well as paninis, soups and more. Directly in the shadow of the Little Italy sign, the patio seating is especially popular. Trattoria Fantastica 1735 India St, San Diego, CA 92101; (619) 234-1735, www.trattoriafantastica.com

©San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond, By Maria Desiderata Montana

San Diego Food Finds

sandiegofoodfinds.comAs ethnic neighborhoods in other cities assimilate to American life, the exuberant local flavor of San Diego’s Little Italy remains both culturally and culinarily distinct. Tucked between Interstate 5 and San Diego Bay southeast of San Diego International Airport, the blocks surrounding the landmark Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church contain many of the most notable eateries and gourmet cafés in “America’s Finest City.” Join Maria Desiderata Montana, a daughter of that Italian heritage and one of the city’s most notable food writers, on this savory tour through the zesty Italian food traditions, businesses and recipes both in Little Italy and across San Diego.

Trattoria Fantastica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My Calabrian Christmas

My parents, Lucia and Natale, on their wedding day in 1957 in Italy.

Growing up in a large Italian family, I learned how to respect tradition and embrace family ties through cooking.

I think my passion for cooking started when I was 7 years old, waking up early Christmas Eve morning to make homemade ravioli for our big Christmas dinner. When I say early, I mean the crack of dawn. You see, my mother couldn’t rest until the ravioli was finished. It was as if she, a perfectionist by nature, just couldn’t wait to see how beautiful they would turn out.

While the rest of the house was quiet, my mom would play soft Italian music really low and share her childhood stories, as my sister and I helped roll out the pasta dough. Forget about the men in my family ever helping in the kitchen. Our Italian tradition was that the cooking was for the women only.

Today, we all live down the street from each other, and my mother and sister come to my house to help my daughter and me make the ravioli, while I play Italian music and throw in some of my own cooking tips. We prepare the ravioli a few days ahead of time and freeze them for Christmas Day.

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Italian Dining at Bice San Diego

BICEsandiegofoodfinds.com

photos by Maria Desiderata Montana

Beatrice Ruggeri was born in January 1901 in Ponte Buggianese, a municipality in the province of Pistoia, in Tuscany, Italy. Born into a peasant family, she was known for her warmth and extraordinary hospitality.

For years Ruggeri, who went by the nickname “Bice,” was encouraged to open her own restaurant where family and friends could enjoy her Tuscan cuisine of homemade pasta and beans, ribollita, ossobuco with risotto, boiled meat and cassoela with cabbage and polenta.

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Get Napizza in Little Italy

NPZ LOGO_2014Perched on the corner of Date and India Streets, Napizza is not only one of the newest establishments in Little Italy, but it also has a new concept that is gaining attention. Green-certified and committed to utilizing locally sourced, organic ingredients with no preservatives or chemicals, this is not your typical pizza joint. But that new philosophy is underscored by one of the oldest traditions in pizza-making techniques. Pizza al taglio is the centuries-old art of utilizing special flour, yeast and water and allowing for a slow rise, creating a product with no equal. The large, square-cut pieces are familiar to anyone who’s sampled street food from Italy’s larger cities. Produce is sourced daily from local and organic farmers, whether you enjoy it on a pizza or sample it from the organic salad bar. Read more about Napizza in my new book: San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond.

Napizza

click on the images to buy my books on AMAZON

Napizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Isola Pizza Bar

Sophisticated and modern, Isola Pizza Bar offers warm and friendly service to every guest whom walks in the door. Located in a tiny storefront in the heart of San Diego’s Little Italy, the menu is a surprise that will leave you craving more for your next visit. Read more in the ‘San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes From America’s Finest City’, now available for pre-order.

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

BURRATA MOZZARELLA WITH PARMA PROSCIUTTO: CREAMY BURRATA, VINE-RIPENED TOMATOES AND FRESH GENOVA BASIL PESTO (PHOTO BY MARIA DESIDERATA MONTANA)

BURRATA MOZZARELLA WITH PARMA PROSCIUTTO: CREAMY BURRATA, VINE-RIPENED TOMATOES AND FRESH GENOVA BASIL PESTO (PHOTO BY MARIA DESIDERATA MONTANA)

GAMBERETTI ALLA DIAVOLA: WOOD-FIRED SHRIMP, WHITE WINE, GARLIC, CAPERS, KALAMATA, CHILE AND TOMATO SERVED ON A BED OF POLENTA. (PHOTO BY MARIA DESIDERATA MONTANA)

GAMBERETTI ALLA DIAVOLA: WOOD-FIRED SHRIMP, WHITE WINE, GARLIC, CAPERS, KALAMATA, CHILE AND TOMATO SERVED ON A BED OF POLENTA. (PHOTO BY MARIA DESIDERATA MONTANA)

ARUGULA E PARMA: ARUGULA, PARMIGIANO REGGIANO, SHAVED CRIMINI MUSHROOMS AND LEMON DRESSING (PHOTO BY MARIA DESIDERATA MONTANA)

ARUGULA E PARMA: ARUGULA, PARMIGIANO REGGIANO, SHAVED CRIMINI MUSHROOMS AND LEMON DRESSING (PHOTO BY MARIA DESIDERATA MONTANA)

Bruschetta with Fresh Figs and Pistachios (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Bruschetta with Fresh Figs and Pistachios (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

MARGHERITA PIZZA WITH MOZZARELLA, TOMATO AND BASIL (PHOTO BY MARIA DESIDERATA MONTANA)

MARGHERITA PIZZA WITH MOZZARELLA, TOMATO AND BASIL (PHOTO BY MARIA DESIDERATA MONTANA)

Fegatini de Polo Alla Toscana: Organic Chicken Liver, Capers, Crispy Pancetta and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Fegatini de Polo Alla Toscana: Organic Chicken Liver, Capers, Crispy Pancetta and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Caramel and Chocolate Budino (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Caramel and Chocolate Budino (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

ISOLA PIZZA BAR
1526 INDIA STREET
SAN DIEGO, CA 92101
(619) 255-4230
www.isolapizzabar.com 

Isola Pizza Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pasta al Pomodoro

PastaAlPomodoroSandiegofoodfinds.com

Recipe and Photos by Maria Desiderata Montana

Pasta al Pomodoro

This is an easy and light dish I make for my family on a regular basis. Just a few fresh ingredients from the Farmers’ Market and everybody’s happy.

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red pear tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup greek olives
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • Small block of Parmigiana Reggiano cheese, grated, for garnish
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped, for garnish
  • Sea salt, to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat; add garlic and sauté until opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and olives and sauté for an additional 2-4 minutes. In a large bowl combine spaghetti with tomato and olive pomodoro sauce; lightly toss. Garnish with Parmigiano Reggiano and basil. Season with salt and serve family style.

Pasta al PomodoroGet more of my Italian recipes in my newest book San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond

As ethnic neighborhoods in other cities assimilate to American life, the exuberant local flavor of San Diego’s Little Italy remains both culturally and culinarily distinct. Tucked between Interstate 5 and San Diego Bay southeast of San Diego International Airport, the blocks surrounding the landmark Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church contain many of the most notable eateries and gourmet cafés in “America’s Finest City.” Join Maria Desiderata Montana, a daughter of that Italian heritage and one of the city’s most notable food writers, on this savory tour through the zesty Italian food traditions, businesses and recipes both in Little Italy and across San Diego.

Tuscan Kale Salad Recipe

Tuscan Kale Salad at True Food Kitchen (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

True Food Kitchen Tuscan Kale Salad
Courtesy of Chef Nathan Coulon

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 cups kale, loosely packed, sliced leaves of Italian black (Lacinato, “dinosaur,” cavolo nero), midribs removed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Hot red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2/3 cup grated Pecorino Toscano cheese (Rosselino variety if you can find it) or other flavorful grating cheese such as Asiago or Parmesan)
  • ½ cup freshly made bread crumbs from lightly toasted bread

Directions:

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, and a generous pinch (or more to taste) of hot red pepper flakes.

Pour over kale in serving bowl and toss well. Add 2/3 of the cheese and toss again.

Let kale sit for at least 5 minutes. Add bread crumbs, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.

The menu at True Food Kitchen features global cuisine, influenced by the Mediterranean, Asia and California. High quality grains, vegetables, wild caught fish, certified Angus natural beef and free range chicken are used in wholesome, simple dishes using seasonal and locally sourced products. Signature dishes include the Local Vegetable Crudites with tzatziki and black olive dip, the Tuscan Kale Salad with lemon, parmesan and bread crumb, the Grass Fed Bison Burger with umami and mushroom on a flax seed bun, plus an array of natural refreshing elixirs and juices. Several dishes are offered as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or dairy free and menu notations easily identify the choices. The menus at True Food Kitchen change from lunch to dinner and a brunch menu is served on weekends.

Dine Al Fresco at Cucina Enoteca

cucina enoteca

(Courtesy photo)

Cucina Enoteca

[ SOAK IN THE SUN ] Surrounded with lush greenery, citrus trees, hot-dipped metal chairs, and geometric-shaped lighting fixtures, CUCINA enoteca Del Mar’s second-story open-air garden patio is the place to see and be seen this summer. A feast for the palate and the eyes, guests can enjoy a unique outdoor dining experience while sampling the freshest dishes including stuffed fried squash blossoms and lemon roasted beet and avocado salad. To top it all off, happy hour is offered seven days a week from 3-6pm, and the patio is pet friendly, so furry friends can join the fun as well. The social hotspot also recently took home honors for Gayot’s 2014 Hot 25 Restaurants in the US, Open Table’s 2014 Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants, and Eater’s “Stone Cold Stunner” for its jaw-dropping design. cucina enoteca

Location: on the second story of the restaurant

CUCINA enoteca Del Mar: 2730 Via de La Valle | www.cucinaenoteca.com | 858.704.4500

Taste of Little Italy

The annual Taste of Little Italy is Wednesday, June 18th from 5-9 p.m.

Taste of Little Italy

(Courtesy photo)

Each year, dozens of Little Italy’s restaurants open their doors, inviting guests in to get a little taste of their menus. We hope you’ll share this news! More info below:

Ticketing: Tickets are priced at $29 per person for a single route (North or South) and $45 per person for full access. This is an all-ages food festival; however some establishments will require 21+ aged guests due to any alcohol included in their taste selection.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.littleitalysd.com/events/taste-of-little-italy/tickets.

How it works: Taste of Little Italy ticketholders can go from restaurant to restaurant with a Taste Passport, which lists participating restaurants and each location’s specific menu offering. It’s an easy walk, with no shuttles required. After each “bite,” restaurant staff will marks off the stop on the passport and then it’s off to the next stop.

Currently participating restaurants: Bencotto, Monello, Caffe Italia, Fabrison’s, Indigo Grill, Landini’s Pizza, Puerto La Boca, Buon Appetito, Craft & Commerce, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, Isola Pizza Bar, Mimmo’s Italian Village, Petrini’s…and more to come!