Sherman's Food Adventures: Cesarina


After one night in Downtown San Diego, we were on our way out to Escondido so we were closer to the safari park for the next day.  However, upon loading up our vehicle, the TPMS alerted me to a flat tire.  Wonderful.  Well, that didn't prevent us from honoring our lunch reservations at Cesarina.  Hey, we still had to eat!  We could always deal with the tire later... Priorities...  Besides, I had a portable tire compressor and that bought us some time.  With that time, we were determined to try one of the best places, if not the best, in San Diego to dine on freshly-made pasta.  Furthermore, they have excellent vegan options as well.

Normally, I don't really talk about complimentary Bread, but the assortment we got was actually really good.  Loved the airy foccacia that had a slightly crispy exterior.  Even without the butter, it was tasty on its own with rosemary and enough salt.  What was the most surprising of all was the slices of vegan bread.  I quite enjoyed them and especially the herb & buckwheat loaf.  We actually asked for a second helping since it was so good.

To start, we got the Frittura di Paranza with deep fried calamari, shrimp, paranza, purple potatoes, lemon and sage.  This was a huge portion served on a beautiful decorative plate.  We enjoyed the thin crispy batter which was properly seasoned.  The light crunchiness gave way to tender (yet with a bite) calamari rings and tentacles.  Shrimp were meaty with a snap while the delicate little fish were a real treat.  In the middle, there was a big dish of creamy peperoncino aioli.

As a second appie, we had the Caprese Salad with a whole fresh burrata, heirloom tomatoes, red onions, caper berries, arugula, pesto and basil.  As much as we enjoyed the creamy burrata, the rest of the salad was a bit overdressed.  Now, we've had Caprese salads that have been completely underdressed before, so this one was actually fine.  However, the beautiful tomatoes were a bit lost in this one.

For my pasta, I went for the Papparedelle al Sugo di Spuntature.  This featured tender ribbons of pasta that still held a healthy bite.  It was bathed in a rich and mildly tangy tomato sauce that had plenty of body from the slow cooked pork ribs.  Hence, there was also considerable meatiness as well.  That was further elevated by the piece of fork-tender braised pork shoulder.  A light dusting of pecorino romano and fresh mint finished the dish.

Viv decided to create her own dish choosing the Paccheri in Arrabbiatissima.  This innocent-looking sauce was actually impactfully spicy consisting of fresh tomato sauce, Calabrian peperocino and traditional Calabrian pork "nduja" topped with burrata and parsley.  So if you can imagine, not only was this sauce tangy and spicy, it had some real meatiness as well.  Great add on the burrata as it cooled things off a tad.  The choice of pasta was robust enough to stand up to the sauce.

Disappointingly, the kids opted for the same dish (less variety!!!), but it was a good move as it was delicious.  It was the featured Tortellini with prosciutto, burrata, potato, rosemary and thyme paired with their choice of pomodoro fresco.  Large and completely stuffed, the ravioli ate well with tender yet al dente pasta.  Inside, the ample filling was tender with subtle flavors even with the prosciutto.  The tangy and fresh tomato sauce with a touch of burrata was simple enough to compliment the ravioli without overwhelming it.  So as you can tell, we really enjoyed our meal at Cesarina.  It is no wonder that they are super busy and so highly regarded.  Freshly-made pasta with delicious sauces at fairly reasonable prices.  A must visit while in San Diego.

The Good:
- Delicious hand-crafted pasta
- Pretty place
- Plenty of vegan options
- On point service 

The Bad:
- Need to plan ahead with a reso or you aren't getting in


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