You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Eating your way through San Diego’s Little Italy


There are few more delicious ways to explore a city’s roots than by tasting your way through its enclaves, whether it’s North Beach in San Francisco or Little Italy, the trendy, restaurant-rich neighborhood in sunny San Diego. 

Last year, Forbes magazine dubbed Little Italy one of the country’s top 10 hottest neighborhoods for millennials. It’s awfully appealing to non-millennials, too. The food scene alone is enough to make a foodie hop the next flight. But you’ll be hard-pressed to do this area in just one jaunt. A weekend doesn’t have enough mealtimes, for one thing — not when these 48 square blocks boast more than 70 restaurants, bars, breweries and cafes.  

There’s Bolt Brewery and Ballast Point Brewing. Three “Top Chef”- helmed eateries — Pacific Standard, Herb and Wood and Juniper & Ivy. Old school pizzerias, new wave pasta houses, wine bars, seafood houses and divine delis. Did we mention the devilish doughnuts?  

Little Italy has always been a bustling neighborhood. At one point, more than 6,000 Italian families lived and worked here, many in the fisheries that made San Diego king of the tuna world. But by the 1960s, some of that vibrancy had dimmed, first by the decline of the West Coast tuna trade, then by the rise of Highway 5. Freeway construction wiped out a third of the neighborhood.  

The happy ending here — and the extremely tasty foray we’re enjoying, as we sashay from Ironside’s lobster rolls to Davanti Enoteca’s foccaccia — is thanks to a group of locals, who banded together 20 years ago to revive their neighborhood. The Little Italy Association of San Diego planted trees, hung banners, nurtured local businesses and spearheaded everything from the annual Festa — the largest Italian festival west of the Mississippi — to support for the neighborhood piazzas.  

When it opens later this spring, the Piazza della Famiglia will be a grand, mixed-use, European-style promenade lined with shops, restaurants and apartments on West Date Street, between India and Columbia Streets. The plaza is designed to serve as the neighborhood’s heart — home to the weekly Little Italy Mercato farmers market, as well as celebrations, such as the Festa, which draws more than 120,000 visitors each year.  

A block away, you’ll find the Piazza Basilone, where cafe chairs and tables surround a fountain crowned by a mosaic globe. Five more small piazzas, including the Piazza Pescatore, the Piazza Frankie Laine and the Piazza Costanza — political Midge, not Seinfeld’s George — are due to open over the next year.  

We’d be tempted to stroll from piazza site to piazza site, were it not for two things — the big Piazza della Famiglia hasn’t opened yet, and our bellies are growling. We can smell garlic and basil wafting from the restaurants. Somewhere, there is coffee roasting. Our tastebuds have needs.  

It’s early still, so we grab a latte from Heartsleeves, the little Alice in Wonderland-themed cafe tucked down a little alley and head out to explore. We stop into Vitreum, a little gift shop tucked in a colorful cottage, and hit a few more boutiques before concluding that our degree of caffeination has not yet reached optimal levels. It’s a perfect excuse to pop into Devil’s Dozen, where the nitro brew comes with churro bites ($3) and nutella-hazelnut doughnuts ($3.50).  

Sugar buzzed and java jangled, we continue our perambulations, criss-crossing the neighborhood half a dozen times, like Jeffy from “Family Circus.” Call it the path of least efficiency — or maximum FitBit-edness. We’re just trying to get enough exercise to justify brunch at the chic Kettner Exchange, where the second floor dining room sports plush booths and a wood-paneled ceiling that arches high overhead. And chef Brian Redzikowski’s brunch menu ranges from eggs benedict with tenderbelly bacon and tomato confit ($13) to avocado-burrata toast ($12) and an addictive crispy chicken sandwich with arugula and chipotle aioli ($15).  

This may not be quite what pedometer makers had in mind: Walk just enough multiple-thousand steps to justify the divine chowder ($10) and lobster rolls ($22) at Little Italy’s Ironside Fish & Oysters, or the sublime Foccacia di Recco ($21), a Ligurian flatbread spread with soft cow’s cheese and drizzled with honeycomb, at Davanti Enoteca. Eat and repeat 70 times.  

But it’s working for us. Deliciously.  

———  

IF YOU GO  

Heartsleeves Coffee: Open daily at 621 W. Fir St., San Diego; www.heartsleevescoffee.com.  

Devil’s Dozen: Open daily at 2001 Kettner Blvd.; devils-dozen.com.  

Kettner Exchange: Open for dinner daily, plus weekend brunch at 2001 Kettner Blvd.; www.kettnerexchange.com.  

Ironside Fish & Oyster: Open daily for lunch and dinner at 1654 India St.; http://ironsidefishandoyster.com/ 

 Davanti Enoteca: Open daily for lunch and dinner, plus weekend brunch at 1655 India St.; www.davantienoteca.com.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Cheaper Disney tickets? It's a thing. Here's how to get in on the deal.
Cheaper Disney tickets? It's a thing. Here's how to get in on the deal.

Walt Disney World fanatics, this is not a drill. Cheap ticket prices are here for everyone but only for a limited time.  The “4-Park Magic Ticket” admits guests into one park per day for four separate days. Enjoy Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom (including the park’s new land, Pandora - The World...
How to conquer the challenge of long-term travel

One summer a friend showed me her itinerary for a week in Maui. It was three pages long, laid out on Excel. Every hour was choked with food stops, beaches, “leisure” time and noteworthy sights. It was a small wonder she didn’t also pencil in bathroom breaks.  Good luck pulling that off for trips that are weeks, perhaps months...
Stand-up air travel? Not yet, but Colombian budget airline would consider it
Stand-up air travel? Not yet, but Colombian budget airline would consider it

BOGOTA, Colombia — In its quest to make air travel accessible to the masses, Colombia’s no-frills carrier, VivaColombia, would be more than happy to rip out the seats and make passengers stand — if it only could.  “There are people out there right now researching whether you can fly standing up,” VivaColombia&rsquo...
Travel dilemmas: The effects of the airlines’ electronics ban

The ban on in-cabin electronics larger than a smartphone is one of the more fluid issues affecting travelers. Ten airports in the Middle East and northern Africa are a no-go for big electronics in carry-ons. (To see the list, go to www.lat.ms/airportlist.) Homeland Security recently said it could broaden the ban to 71 more airports. Or it might not...
How to stay healthy while traveling

Nothing ruins a vacation or business trip like not feeling your best.  Whether it's a long-haul flight that leaves you sleepier than usual or a seven-night cruise that has you queasy, travel is constantly challenging your well-being.   TravelPulse consulted board certified family physician Dr. Mia Finkelston to uncover some of the easiest...
More Stories