Enoteca Adriano – A Neighborhood Gem

| August 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Enoteca Adriano is a neighborhood gem. Located at the north end of Cass Street in Pacific Beach, the restaurant serves the young, hip, beach oriented population that lives nearby…and those lucky other people “in the know.”

Close to its intersection with Garnet Avenue, Cass Street can be busy with traffic. But the hustle and bustle of movement disappears where the restaurant is located. Most of the street activity involves people walking their dogs, enjoying the peace and calm of the area.
The restaurant itself is not large. Reservations are recommended because seating is limited. There is an occasional lineup of customers waiting for tables but benches are provided for comfort. The building has a covered patio in front, allowing diners to enjoy cool summer evenings.

What makes Enoteca Adriano a neighborhood gem? It’s the quality of the cuisine.

The covered patio allows diners to enjoy cool, summer evenings.

The covered patio allows diners to enjoy cool, summer evenings.

Chef-Owner Franco Tassone  brings an impressive history to his business. Born in Calabria in southern Italy, he has been around cooking all his life, starting in his family home. He traveled abroad to study cuisine, working from Italy to Australia, from Canada to America. He found “paradise in San Diego” in 1989 and helped open La Strada, the famous pioneer Italian restaurant in the Gaslamp that is unfortunately no longer in business. He operated La Terrazza, so popular in La Jolla and Zen Sushi. His Isola Lounge featured tapas from around the world. His focus now is in Pacific Beach.

“Enoteca” is the Italian term for wine bar. The wine list is only two pages in length — one for “red” and one for “white” — as compared to venues where a wine list may run on for many more pages. But all of the wines are specially selected and highlighted by the region of Italy where they originate: “tuscana” for Tuscany and “veneto” for Venice, and the like. A smaller wine list makes choosing easier. The servers are trained to assist with good wine pairings. Best of all, prices are quite reasonable. Many selections are available by the glass.

The restaurant is open only for dinner. The menu is primary of Northern Italy dishes. The menu changes to reflect seasonal items, and specials are always offered. Some featured items are featured infrequently at other Italian eateries — notably “buratta” and “pappardelle” — but are offered here.

Buratta is a cheese, a mozzarella-like look with a creamy texture that is offered in four different combinations and often also as a special. Buratta enoteca comes with prosciutto, grilled tomato, garlic spinach, and parmigiana. Buratta adriano comes with grilled ciabatta squares, arugula, and baby heirlooms. I enjoyed the evening’s special, which was sweet and tasty enough to have served as a dessert. It combined peaches, heirloom tomato and parmesan in a wonderful way.

The menu categories include the traditional antipasti, insalate, pasta and piatti secondi. Polpettini, small meat balls in a tomato basil sauce or calamari caldi, smoked calamari in a spicy tomato stew, are great appetizers. Dip the bread, really bread fingerlings, that are presented with an oil dipping sauce.

Pastas are “home-made” (not here but in Little Italy). My favorites are the pappardelle (mentioned earlier), long and wide noodles with their own flavor as well as absorbing the flavors of sauces. They can be topped with Bolognese (meat sauce) or dolci, with wild mushrooms and a mascapone sauce. Ravioli Rossi is stuffed with seafood in an excellent lobster reduction. Gnocchi di casa arrives in a tasty gorgonzola pesto walnut sauce.

Pappardelle may also be substituted as a side dish with an entree. With oil and garlic, they are amazing.

Piatti secondi, the entrees, include seafood, veal and chicken. Salmon and cod come in appealing combinations. Veal cutlets are pounded thin and tender. Vitello saltimbocca is topped with prosciutto. Pollo Milanese is absolutely sensational. Chicken breast is pounded thin and becomes large. It may fill half the plate. It is then covered with a mix of breading and spices that is prepared to order for freshness and then cooked. It’s very enjoyable.

Desserts include the traditional tiramisu, crème brulee and cannoli among others. But there is one unique dish, Pope’s pillow. It is so named because the chef’s uncle actually prepared this special dessert for an earlier Pope. How is that for ending a meal?

Enoteca Adriano is located at 4864 Cass Street in Pacific Beach. It is a neighborhood restaurant – small, cozy, friendly. Service is attentive and excellent. Prices are moderate. Cuisine is sensational. It is well worth driving to.

Reservations are recommended. Call (858)490-0085 for reservations, information and directions

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