6 Best Restaurants in Little Italy San Diego
Bonjourno! As the newest residents of Little Italy, San Diego, we are pretty stoked about living in a neighborhood that offers so much more than just fancy pasta (although that is enough for most). With views of the sparkling harbor, blocks of trendy cocktail bars, breweries, wine bars, restaurants, and boutiques to shop at, there’s something here for just about anyone. Oh, and it is also extremely pet-friendly for you dog lovers.
We’ve made a “reasonable” excuse to splurge money at these following places to see what they’re all about. 6 places and $$$$ later, we’ve condensed our favorite spots and are aching to share with you all! So, when you are searching for the best restaurants or things to do in San Diego, stop and read below:
Civico 1845 was one of the first places we tried, which really set the bar high. With its grassy-front, centered in the heart of Little Italy, it’s easy to take a double look at this place.
What sets Civico 1845 apart from other local italian restaurants is that it has a modern twist on their Italian dishes. It also has an entirely separate menu with Vegan and gluten-free options, which isn’t common in most Italian restaurants. If you’re feeling indecisive about the menu, give these appetizers and entrees a try.
Our favorite menu items were:
- Calamari fritti,
- Crocchè e Arancini
- Fusilli 50/50.
One reason we love dining at Italian places is for their family-style service, which Civico 1845 isn’t shy of. Be prepared to be greeted and checked on with the warmest welcome, and maybe even a free dessert if you’re lucky!
We hope you like cheese. If you’re looking for authentic Italian food – and by that we mean, pasta on a literal cheese wheel, this is your place. Monello offers Milanese-style organic hand-crafted pastas, making over 800 pounds of pasta weekly! Yeah, you read that right.
The most popular dish to get here is their cheese-wheel pasta that changes weekly. When we came here, the special on the cheese-wheel was the lamb in the pasta. If you decide to order this, the cook will bring the wheel to your table and you’ll get to watch them scrape and mix the cheese onto your freshly heated pasta. This dish is a little pricey, but you pay for the high-quality pasta with the experience that comes with it.
In this case, there’s no option to come here other than being starved because it is a lot of heavy food filled with rich, organic ingredients. Worth every penny.
Cloak & Petal
Little Italy doesn’t only just house the best restaurants in Little Italy San Diego, but also the best sushi. I mean, how ideal is it to have quality pasta and rolls on the same block? Cloak & Petal specializes in Japanese “tapas” and unique crafty cocktails.
We tried their cocktail called the “Casa Branca,” which has bourbon, lemon, ginger, angostura, & a cute flower to top it off. For someone who isn’t big on Bourbon, this drink was impressive! We usually always resort to our regular Jameson with ginger ale drinks whenever we go somewhere, but Cloak & Petal’s menu sold us to try something new.
Our favorite appetizers were:
- Australian Wagyu Lettuce Cups
- Glazed Brussel Sprouts (the pomegranates on it made it extra yummy)
& sushi rolls:
- Shrimp Tempura
- Cesar Chavez
- Hillcrest Roll
If you’re unfamiliar with San Diego, their rolls are named after San Diego areas which we thought was a simple pleasure, it’s like eating a taste of home! Keep in mind this place is upper-scale sushi, so the prices for their rolls are a little bit higher than your usual sushi spot around the corner.
From their crafty cocktails, fresh sushi, occasional live music, and the beautiful Japenese cherry blossom tree that centers the restaurant, you don’t want to miss out on this place.
Born & Raised
Take a break from Italian and transcend into the glitz and glamour of Born & Raised. Located just across from Civico 1845 lies a two-story bar and steakhouse. We’ll start off by saying this place is STUNNING. The second you enter, you’ll immediately feel like you’ve time-traveled to 1920’s Great Gatsby. From the gold accents to the massive classy bar with bartenders all dressed in white paned suits, this place really is a gem in the neighborhood.
Not going to lie to you when we say this place is expensive AF. Expect to pay a pricey meal and at least $15 for a glass of wine! With that said, this wouldn’t be our first-on-the-list place to go to when we’re feeling hungry. Although the quality of food and the aura of the bar & restaurant are what makes the price that it is.
So, whether you are here for a steak dinner or looking to get drinks for the night, you won’t be disappointed. You can order a crafty cocktail from a suited-up bartender and take your drink upstairs to overlook the views of Little Italy and the harbor. And for that, this place is worth a stop.
Vino time! After you are full from eating heavy italian food, you might want a drink that’ll settle easily with your stomach. I know we always love a glass of red after we stuff our faces in pasta. M Winehouse is located right across the street from Born & Raised and is an entirely different vibe (in a good way). Inside this Victorian-style home lives a wine bar filled with charm and character that gives off a homey atmosphere.
It has a good selection of wines that are all handpicked from specific wineries. However, their menu also offers sangria, champagne, and beer if you’re not too big on wine. Whichever drink you prefer, pair it with their special cheeses and charcuteries.
The best part about this place is their little attic! When you walk upstairs, you’ll find a front-centered window that overlooks the heart of Little Italy, tables with a variety of fun childhood board games, and quirky wall decor from top to bottom.
Check M Winehouse out for their good selection on Happy Hour – It’s the perfect place for a date or a girls night out so get down here! Like M Winehouse said it, “you had me at merlot.”
The first word we’d use to describe this place is busy…AF. Little Italy’s newest restaurant Morning Glory has only been open for 3 months & already has made everyone’s must go-to list! With lines out the door and down the stairs, this place is your next Instagrammable brunch spot. Which quite frankly is all that is. The menu is unique ranging from American to Japanese cuisine. So, our first time here we decided to order the usual Eggs Benedict which unfortunately didn’t come with any sides!
However, the eye candy here truthfully isn’t in their food, it’s in their decor. The place is glamorous with its pink and gold accents and rooftop views of Little Italy. It reminded us of an elegant diner.
Unfortunately, this place is only open for breakfast and brunch between the hours of 7 AM – 3 PM. So it’s definitely a place to grab a mimosa or two right after you get your insta photo.
Our only tip is to arrive right when they open at 7 am or be forced to wait in a very long line! Worth the wait? You tell us 😉
& That’s the Tea
If you’re looking for the best restaurants in Little Italy, San Diego, give one of these a try. These all made our list for a particular reason and are quite enjoyable in their own ways!
Oh, one more thing: if you’d like to be visually inspired, and by that we mean indulge in food porn, give our food Instagram a follow at Twinkieeats. We feature live stories and photos whenever we’re eating or drinking something dank.
Comment below if you’ve been to any of these places – we also love suggestions. Is there another place we should check out in Little Italy, San Diego? We want to know 🙂