Whenever your LA Travel Diva Examiner hits San Diego she always stops in Little Italy to shop, have a cup of espresso or enjoy an authentic meal. From Milan-inspired aperitivos at its hot new restaurant, Monello to its 90+ vendor farmers’ market, the Mercato and boutique hotels full of character, San Diego’s Little Italy is actually a destination all its own. It’s also a fun place to go with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day where you’ll find amore everywhere.
Formed in the early 1900s by Italian immigrants, Little Italy began as a small fishing town with a stunning locale near the Pacific Ocean. Salt air breezes, grandma’s recipes and warm hospitality are the same today as they were back then. Only now, Little Italy is also a thriving neighborhood with trend-setting eateries, boutiques and intimate hotels.
The Old Country influence is still evident with locals uttering “Ciaos” around every corner. Old Italians line the streets each morning to chat over espresso and watch the day go by.
A Little Italy antipasto:
- Food: Northern Italian Bencotto Italian Kitchen just earned a rarely-given “Q” rating from the Italian government for its quality and commitment to Italian gastronomic heritage. Classics like Filippi’s Pizzeria have been in business for more than 50 years. There’s an exciting craft cocktail and bar scene from the newer Craft & Commerce to San Diego’s oldest tavern & favorite watering hole, The Waterfront. Farm-to-table restaurants like PrepKitchen have replaced the otherwise ordinary. Little Italy’s Farmers’ Market, The Mercato, is the largest in San Diego with a real commitment to role in supporting local farmers and gourmet start-ups.
- Shopping : Walk up Fir Street and find locally-owned businesses with gifts & experiences you won’t find anywhere else. Get prettied up at Be beauty with a facial and pick up a San Diego-worthy sundress while you’re there. Then head next door to Vitreum to explore their collection of orbs, vases and table décor. Up a few streets in north Little Italy brings another dimension in shopping with art, antiques, and home décor with nationally recognized shops like Mixture and Architectural Salvage.
- Sightseeing: Little Italy is a 2-minute cab ride from San Diego airport and has its own trolley stop to bring travelers to a host of destinations around the area. Moreover, it is home to the innovative Car2Go program saving visitors from having to rent a car.
Depending on traffic, it can take anywhere from two to three hours to drive to San Diego. The Diva prefers to book a Business class seat on Amtrak for a smooth, hassle-free, roughly two-hour very scenic trip. There's also food and drink service, WiFi and computer tables. Lovers may want to just snuggle up by a window seat and watch SoCal beaches sail by.