Right in the heart of the very touristy Gaslamp District of San Diego sits this outstanding throwback to 1950s and 1960s style Italian restaurants – captains as well as waiters, high back booths, and a menu that could have been written in the old country. It starts when the waiter arrives at your table with a platter displaying samples of the night’s cuts of veal chops, rib eyes, and fillet mignon and other meats.
They had me at the Cesar Salad the first time we were there. It’s made tableside by people who have the touch and technique to get it right … with real anchovies … and a raw egg if you ask for it.
The veal picatta is tender and full of lemony flavor and capers. The veal chop is thick and juicy and accompanied perfectly by a side of pasta on request. The osso bucco is marinated for 24 hours in cabernet sauvignon and then slow cooked. And talk about atmosphere – how about a real old fashioned steak Diane made expertly at your table. Italian is spoken all around you; the waiters are professional and the room hums “That’s Amore”.
The signature dish is a traditional Sole Portofino – fillet of sole stuffed with lobster, crab and shrimp, ringed with mashed potatoes and baked to a golden brown.
About the time you feel you can’t eat another bite, the bus boy will clear the table and the waiter will return with a dessert cart wheeled in straight from the gates of heaven. It’s loaded with a dizzying array of worth choices. But I take one look at the canolis and that’s where it stops.
If you ate at any of the great Italian restaurants of 40 or 50 years ago, de’ Medici Cucina Italiana is a worthwhile trip down memory lane. For those who never had the pleasure all those decades ago, this is the place to see what you missed.
de’ Medici Cucina Italiana is located at 815 Fifth Ave. in the Gaslamp District. Phone number is (619) 702-7228. The web site is http://deMedicisandiego.com