Mangia! Mangia! Taste Of Little Italy - More Than Meatballs And Hand Gestures

June 23, 2015
By Rosanne Adamo

As a result of growing up Sicilian, there are three things I’m sure of: one, I love being surrounded by a strong sense of culture; two, nobody knows how to throw together and execute on an incredible guilt trip quite like an Italian Mother (“Stay and eat the pasta! You can go to the gym later! I spent all day making all this food! What’s the matter with you?!”); and three, as a result of the second, I live to eat. The Little Italy Association of San Diego’s 2015 Taste of Little Italy did a beautiful job confirming what I already knew. As a frequenter of culinary walking tours around San Diego, I’m a practiced food walker. I appreciate organization, variety, and passionate restaurant workers. With 38 stops on the walk, each with something uniquely mouthwatering to offer, Little Italy did not let me down.

With a trusted food partner by my side, our voyage began at the 38th location listed. I’ve found that working backwards at these events results in less time standing in line. That brought us to 98 Bottles where a double chocolate stout beer brownie in homemade chocolate and caramel sauces was being served up. After enjoying the rich, dense sugar-rush, we were ready to move on to some more savory snacks.

As a child growing up in San Diego, I was already familiar with the always-charming Mona Lisa Italian Foods. They’ve supplied my family with many meals worth of spiraled sausage and hunks of the sharpest, smelliest Romano cheese. This deli, which doubles as a restaurant, sampled a simple cheese lasagna and garlic bread. More impressive than their food were the two gentlemen manning their table. Their friendly demeanor made us feel right at home.

Underbelly, an absolute favorite spot of mine, also kept it magically simple by delivering a generous portion of their classic pork belly Tonkotsu ramen.  Along with their food being absolutely delicious, the cool garden-infused modern art vibe of this spot has kept me coming back.

I was less familiar with the next few places on my list, two eateries I didn’t know existed in Little Italy that made an extremely positive and surprising impression. Mimmo’s dished up the most flavorful pesto gnocchi and Cavatappi sausage pasta. Additionally, the restaurant is elaborately designed to create an ambiance that makes you feel like you are walking the cobblestone streets of Italy, complete with street lamps and balconies. I strongly recommend it for your next Tinder date - it’s enough to make anyone fall in love. Monello stole the show with fig risotto served out of a large Parmigiano wheel. It was the most creative and enjoyable item we ran into on our walk and we will absolutely be back for a full portion.

We ended our evening with Indigo Grill’s refreshing shrimp and bay scallop ceviche. We sat down for signature cocktails in their swanky bar area - top button of pants unbuttoned, stomachs full, and a food coma smile in our hearts. All signs of a satisfying “Taste Of” event.