Marked more by cozy neighborhood trattorias than flashy fine dining, there are plenty of options for eating Italian food in San Diego. Spanning restaurants boasting Italian-American-style “red sauce” dishes to those capturing the true spirit of Italian cooking by using few ingredients of exceptionally high quality, here’s where to find Italian food in San Diego.Read More
Where To Eat Italian Food in San Diego
Everything from pizza to pasta and in-between
1. Sicilia Bella
Plates-to-go and imported Italian dry and wet goods are the staple at downtown La Jolla’s Sicila Bella. Stop in to sit down for the pasta dishes, too.
A varied menu spanning antipasti, pizza and pasta combined with ocean views make Catania one of the more popular dining options in downtown La Jolla.
3. Isola Pizza Bar
Neapolitan-style pizza is the main draw at Isola’s multiple locations, but regulars know their rotating pasta specials are also well worth a try. The restaurant also imports wine made in Italy by the owner’s family.
This Milanese-style pizzeria specializes in ultra-thin crust pizzas while boasting a natural and biodynamic-focused wine list.
5. Enoteca Adriano
Pacific Beach’s Enoteca Adriano is a cozy neighborhood joint with an Italian wine list worth checking out. A static regular menu is bolstered by an ever-changing list of specials, including pasta dishes.
6. Oltre Mare
A frequently-changing menu highlights pasta dishes at this cozy, no-frills Italian restaurant. Seafood dishes are particularly loved by regulars.
7. Antica Trattoria
In-season vegetables and high quality products are the star at La Mesa’s Antica Trattoria, which has a menu consisting of appetizers, main dishes and pasta dishes.
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Maestoso opened in 2018 to a waning Hillcrest dining scene and now features rotating small plates cart and a type of pizza called a pinza among other specialties.
Lemon Grove is home to Giardino, which is a quaint neighborhood Italian restaurant serving classic dishes alongside other creations from Italian chef and owner Marco Provino.
Once a fresh pasta pop-up and now a full-service brick-and-mortar restaurant in the upper Voltaire section of Point Loma, Cesarina focuses on fresh pasta dishes but also boasts a menu of other antipasta and main courses. Beer and wine only. The restaurant also serves a separate vegan menu.
11. Ulivo Restaurant
Ocean Beach’s Ulivo has an extensive menu of pasta dishes but is best known for their version of linguine alla vongole.
Though Liberty Station’s Solare no longer has its award-winning head chef, Accuriso Lota, at the helm, the team continues to crank out inventive and quality Italian dishes at a slightly higher price point than other Italian restaurants in town.
13. CUCINA urbana
With three San Diego locations in Bankers Hill, Kensington and Del Mar, the Cucina family of restaurants is well-known in town for being one of the best Italian dining options. Pasta dishes are a particular joy, with creative twists being thrown into classic dishes.
14. Piacere Mio
A no-frills South Park trattoria, Piacere Mio shines with its fresh pasta selections and ever-changing list of specials.
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15. Mona Lisa Italian Foods
Mona Lisa is well-loved for both its market, which features imported Italian products, but also its restaurant, which has faithfully been serving classic Italian-American-styled red sauce dishes for decades.
16. RoVino Rotisserie + Wine
Rotisserie is the star at RoVino, which specializes in roasted meats and an impressive Italian-focused wine program. The owners of the restaurant will also open an Italian market soon.
Aperitivo is the main event at Little Italy’s Monello, the slightly more casual sister restaurant to Bencotto, which is just next door. Spring for the housemade vermouth cocktails with accompanying small plates and don’t skip the pasta in a wheel of cheese special.
18. Civico 1845
Pastas, antipasti and main dishes span two menus at this Little Italy restaurant: vegan and not. Even for those who don’t have plant-based diets, the vegan menu is well-worth a try.
19. Buona Forchetta - South Park
One of San Diego’s most beloved Neapolitan-style pizzas can be found at Buona Forchetta, which now has multiple locations throughout San Diego County in addition to its original location in South Park.
Some of the best Italian food in San Diego (or anywhere else, for that matter) can be found at hidden gem Biga at the tip of the Gaslamp. Pizzas and pastas shine alongside other dishes made with fresh and local produce.
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21. Mattarello Cooking Lab
Two Milanese restaurateurs opened Mattarello Cooking Lab in the Gaslamp in 2018. A retail section for fresh pasta boasts a menu that features products and pasta dishes made in-house.
22. Monzu Fresh Pasta
East Village’s Monzu Fresh Pasta opened in 2018 and features—as the name states—a whole lot of fresh pasta. The Italian-born couple that owns the restaurant trained under some of Italy’s master pasta makers. The restaurant’s all-day menu follows traditional pasta making techniques and flavors inspired by regions including Sicily, Campania and Puglia. The cacio e pepe ravioli is a particular must-try.
A recent revamp of the island’s “coastal Italian” restaurant added a raw bar featuring seafood-focused plates and a dedicated pasta kitchen that can be viewed from the dining room.