Saturday, March 31, 2012
STAYCATION: SAN DIEGO’S LITTLE ITALY/Part 2
CAFÉS & COFFEE—San Diego’s Little Italy is more than just savory restaurants, it is a first class design and artist’s district as well, especially contemporary show rooms such as www.tokeweb.com; www.mixturehome.com and www.Modul-studio-SanDiego.com). In the mix for Craftsman furnishings there’s (www.thebungalowstore.com) and (www.boomerangformodern.com), the latter being a gem for mid-century modern new and retro.
After touring the design shops, we were easily distracted by pannini’s for lunch on Friday at Tazza d’Oro (619-795-8380) and Café Zucchero (www.cafezucchero.com) for breakfast on Saturday morning. Dining was our theme for this visit.
Unlike other ethnic-style neighborhoods Little Italy’s merchant association has its act together. They hire street sweepers that roam the ‘hood all the time. Plus, they set out hundreds of chairs out on the streets for the locals and tourists to stop and enjoy bites to eat at small tables. The result is a very Euro experience without being contrived.
Dinner on the second night (Friday) of our two-day staycation was to La Villa Restaurant (same family as Tazza d’Oro), where we had a superb meal (my birthday and to my surprise our in-town son was able to join us). By walking up to the lunch hostess we were able to reserve one of La Villa’s two four seat window tables for later in the evening. With the planning of a windstorm, we were delighted to blow into La Villa, where we enjoyed nicely prepared pasta and meat dishes. The people watching--an amazing blend of good looking locals and tourists of all ages—was our dessert.
La Villa is another home run by owners Salvatore and Daniela Caniglia and Antonino Mastellone, the noise behind Buon Appetito, Sogno Di Vino (wine bar) and the wonderful fresh market Market by Buon Appetito.
Saturday breakfast took us to Café Zucchero with its covered and heated sidewalk area (as the morning so near the harbor can be chilly). Café Z seems a bit touristy on the outside, but inside it is sophisticated fare. It is so typical of Europe and American’s big Eastern cities. They separate the morning coffee and pastries from the brunch bunch. If you only want coffee and pastry you do it yourself at the coffee bar next to the block long.
Saturday morning was slightly overcast as we toured Little Italy’s five-block long Farmers Market. The pace was leisurely as the street market was only two blocks south of our hotel.
Little Italy is where we go for a taste of Europe. We came back refreshed and the only thing we missed was another set of stamps in our passport.
Images: La Villa Restaurant, India Street, Little Italy, San Diego; Bar area La Villa Restaurant; Bloggers Phyllis, Michael and Tom Shess at delightful window table at La Villa, March 23, 2012. Pannini at Tazza d’Oro Café, India Street, San Diego.