Busalacchi’s A Modo Mio | Enjoying Traditional Sicilian Fare Chef Busalacchi’s Way

January 5, 2013

Situated on Hillcrest’s vibrant restaurant row, A Modo Mio (translated “my way”) offers an authentic Italian dining experience and traditional food offered Chef Joe Busalacchi’s way.  The Busalacchi family has long been known by San Diegans for their seven other Italian restaurants, and A Modo Mio will definitely impress with its comfortable, contemporary and homey feel and its delectable cuisine.  On a recent visit, we dined on a 4-course price fixed menu for an incredible value of $35/pp, and we must say that we were more than satisfied by the experience, the ambiance and the enjoyable dishes.

We ventured to Fabulous Hillcrest for Chef Busalacchi’s ‘A Modo Mio Week’ during which Chef Joe set aside his regular menu and tantalized palates with Sicilian-inspired meal designed to exhibit his whims and desires, allowing diners to choose their entrée (chicken, meat or fish) then sit back, relax and let Chef work his magic.  The restaurant is romantically lit, beautifully designed, and presents a lively yet relaxed vibe, making for an ambiance that meshes casual with elegant.

To start we whet our appetites with a beautiful array of starters including traditional Sicilian pizzas; crispy fried calamari with a flavorful red sauce; panelli - a thin garbanzo flatbread that surprised us with its simple and airy delightfulness; an antipasti plate with prosciutto, roasted red peppers, olives, pickled mushrooms, cheese and sardines; and my personal favorite, chilled Japanese eggplant parmesan with rich olive oil, a light garlicky sauce, tender eggplant and basil.

Our next course was a choice of soup or salad.  With our taste buds in full gear, we reset and cleansed our palates with a wonderfully refreshing circus frisée and arugula salad with tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, and topped with a light drizzling of lemon oil and fig dressing, making for a beautiful and exciting combination of textures and flavors.  And, no Italian meal is complete without pasta é fagioli, and Busalacchi’s makes a heart-warming bowl with cannellini beans, escarole, and orechiette pasta in a light and flavorful broth.   

For the pasta course I indulged in the lobster ravioli in a decadently creamy lobster vodka sauce, showcasing the rich flavors of the lobster to my undeniable satisfaction.  My partner enjoyed the cheesy spaghetti primavera with asparagus, julienne zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant and garlic, combined to a simple perfection in a red sauce, reminiscent of the clean and simple flavors of his nana’s Italian cooking.

As though there were room for more, for my entrée I ordered the shrimp scampi, which, after the flavor-drenched courses preceding it seemed to me a bit light on seasoning, tasting as if it had only been tossed in the delicious lemon garlic sauce rather than cooked in it, never allowing the flavors to really permeate the protein.  My partner thoroughly enjoyed his moist and herby chicken, beaten thin and topped with melted Italian cheeses and crispy prosciutto de Parma resulting in a comforting dish.

Even when you’re full of Italian food, there is always room for a cannoli…and a crispy truffle, and oh.my.goodness. those may have been the best desserts we’ve had in a long while.  The creamy interior of the cannoli was smooth and perfectly sweet, and hugged gently by a crispy outer shell.  The truffle was filled with a decadent hazelnut cream and encased in a milky chocolate, to die for.

A great Italian dining experience uses simple ingredients and reasonable portions so that the dining experience can be long and plentiful without leaving you bogged down in the gut.  For a mere $35, this four course-tasting menu was a blissful bargain if there ever was one!  Paired with any of Busalacchi's huge selection of thoughtfully selected wines, this meal definitely goes down in the books as a truly elegant experience, in a fine dining setting, with impeccable service and delicious food.   Be sure to say hi to the warm and gracious Joe (and his son Joey) who will eagerly ensure that your dining experience is memorable.

Restaurant Week is quickly approaching, January 13-18, and if you’ve ever listened to our advice, listen clearly: make your reservations at A Modo Mio now!  If you are unable to enjoy during RW, check out Vino Mondays for half priced wine bottles, Martini Wednesday for half priced martinis, and check out their live music Thursday through Saturday.

For more information on Busalacchi's A Modo Mio, visit the website and Facebook page, and be sure to check out Busalacchi's other restaurants - Cafe Zucchero, Trattoria Fantastica, Zia's Bistro, Po Pazzo, Little Italy Spaghetteria, North End, and Via Lago Trattoria in Chula Vista.

3707 5th Avenue, Hillcrest
(619) 298-0119

Monday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–9:00 pm
Tuesday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–9:00 pm
Wednesday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–9:00 pm
Thursday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–9:00 pm
Friday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–10:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00–9:00 pm

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