Dining well in San Diego’s Little Italy

By Midge Raymond on

Midge Raymond

Ashland Creek Press co-founder Midge Raymond is the author of the award-winning short story collection FORGETTING ENGLISH and a novel, MY LAST CONTINENT. Learn more at MidgeRaymond.com.

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I was delighted to learn that San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood has among its many Italian restaurants and cafes one known for its vegan menu: Civico 1845.

One of the great things about this restaurant is that it brings the vegan menu to your table along with its regular menu and wine list, unlike some restaurants in which you need to ask for the vegan menu (or those in which the vegan menu is such a secret you don’t even know to ask).

Even the wine list noted the vegan options with a (V), which was wonderfully helpful. We began with pinot noir and the oyster mushroom “calamari.”

This appetizer was very good, and would probably be a hit with omnivores as well due to the texture: these mushrooms are lightly fried and chewy, with thin tendrils that melt in your mouth. The arrabbiata sauce was a bit watery and quite bland, unfortunately, but it was otherwise a lovely dish.

For our main courses we sampled the Ravioli Boscailoa, house-made mushroom ravioli with truffle sauce, and the Fettuccine alla Bolognese, house-made fettuccine with slow-cooked seitan ragout.

The Ravioli Boscailoa was our favorite…beautifully cooked ravioli with a wonderful mushroom filling, accompanied by a sauce that managed to be light and rich at the same time. The wild mushrooms gave the whole dish a big burst of flavor.

The fettuccine dish was also good — the seitan and the bolognese sauce had a robust “sausage” flavor (and was topped with nutritional yeast instead of parmesan), but the fettuccine was a bit overcooked and overall this dish wasn’t nearly as inspired.

Overall, this wasn’t the best vegan Italian (sadly, our very favorite, Portobello in Portland, Oregon, is closed), but it would be a wonderful choice for those visiting San Diego with omnivores, as it’s so easy to order off the vegan menu without having to ask a lot of questions or make special requests.

And if you are in San Diego’s Little Italy and looking for a completely plant-based dining experience, try Cafe Gratitude, which has an abundance of options, including wine, beer, and cocktails and a great happy hour.

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