Walk into the new Maestoso in Hillcrest, and experience a real taste of Italy in San Diego. A young Italian staff greets you at the door, and passaggi, a unique concept that is essentially dim sum-style daily appetizers, are yours for the asking.
A prime place to sit is at the “chef’s counter” with views into the open kitchen. “We built it ourselves just two weeks before opening the restaurant,” says Roman chef-owner Marco Maestoso.
The chefs main focus is on products, techniques, and preparations that are becoming more authentic and contemporary in the Italian food scene. “We are not fans of customers that ask for spaghetti and meatballs,” he says. “We don’t like the persistent idea that spaghetti and meatballs represents Italian cuisine. On our dessert menu, we actually have a plate that is called ‘Spaghetti Meatballs alle Hawaii’. ”Nobody knows, and we don’t say it, but it means that spaghetti and meatballs are better off found in Hawaii.”
Maestoso uses organic, local and sustainable ingredients for almost everything on his menu, which changes on average every one to two months. He imports the main ingredients from Italy, and sources produce from the local markets.
The most unique aspect of this restaurant is that Maestoso offers years of study and evolution on pizza. His version of pizza is called “pinsa” and is the result of research on grains, yeast, and fermentation, to obtain a lower calorie, more digestible and healthier pizza dough. “Pizza is a big part of everyone’s nutrition, and it’s something that should not be considered an easy and cheap product,” he says.
One of the most inventive items on the menu is a dessert called the “lemon egg.” Maestoso created this dish during a dessert contest in Rome. The plate is dedicated to the American breakfast and resembles a sunny side up egg with bacon, however the bacon is actually Guanciale (pork cheek). The dish is composed by a base of lemon and ginger panna cotta, toasted Italian meringue, lemon zest curd, and a salty caramelized Guanciale crumble. It truly is a balanced explosion for the palate.
The chefs personal menu favorite is the Amatriciana Pinsa. “Amatriciana is a classic sauce in Rome, originally from the town of Amatrice,” explains Maestoso. “It’s the first Michelin starred plate I ever learned to make while working at the Michelin star Il Convivio Troiani with Chef Angelo Troiani in Rome.”
1040 University Ave ste. B101, San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 642-0777