What would a trip to San Diego be without the food, the beer and the calories?
Strangely enough, Doc and I don’t normally spend a whole lot of time in the restaurants.
Usually, we find ourselves eating “on the fly” because we are always trying to pack as much adventure as we can into the short amount of time we have on vacation.
But, this weekend was a little different, because, other than our obligations to attend the AARP “Ideas@50+” event, we had no other timetable to follow.
Our secondary agenda called for some advanced R & R, so we actually had plenty of time to decide when and where we wanted to eat.
And besides, we were living in Downtown San Diego for a few days, so what could possibly be so hard about finding a few great restaurants?
So, Thursday night, we headed straight to Little Italy to check out Filippi’s Pizza Grotto.
It was time for some “world famous” pizza and beer.
If you remember our trip to San Diego last year we were basically shut out of getting inside of Filippi’s.
It was the weekend of “Little Italy Festa” so the neighborhood was packed with tourists and most of the restaurants were SRO.
This was the one place we had heard the most about.
This was the place for pizza in Little Italy.
We really gave it the “old college try” but all 3 times we stopped there the line was at least an hour long.
This trip we got lucky.
We rode our “complementary” bicycles from The Sofia Hotel into Little Italy and excitedly chained them to the bike rack right outside of the restaurant.
We were seated in a few minutes and had cold “Stella’s” in our hands before we could say “Grazie.”
I took a few minutes to stroll through the restaurant and the best way to describe it is “old world.”
There are basically 4 different rooms and they were all packed with loud and gregarious patrons.
The atmosphere was cozy yet hectic.
The waiters and waitresses were running with frenzied purpose and the cooks were shouting out orders in Italian from inside the open kitchen.
The place was messy.
The carpets were worn.
The tables, cloaked in red and white checkered cloths, were unsteady.
The lighting was chaotic and dusty Chianti bottles swung from the ceilings.
The aroma in the air was dynamic and full-bodied.
I loved it.
It was just like having dinner with the Italian family I never had.
There is basically everything you need to create a true Italian feast.
We came that night, knowing our meal would be pizza – Pepperoni, Sausage and Mushroom pizza to be exact.
It arrived quickly, steaming hot with a thick layer of gooey, greasy cheese on top.
Just the way I like it.
We were starved, so we dug in.
It was good, almost very good, but, in our opinions, not great.
The sausage, which can make or break a true Italian pizza, was spicy and flavorful.
But, in my humble opinion, this was not the "world famous” pizza I was hoping for.
I was born and raised on the South side of Chicago.
I have had better.
In fact, I have had better in Phoenix.
I like my crust to be firm and almost “snap” when I bite into it.
The toppings and cheese should hold together like the string section in an orchestra and not slide off the side of the slice as I am biting into it.
Each bite should be a cacophony of sweet basil, rich tomato sauce, buttery cheese and sharp pepperoni.
We weren't disappointed, just slightly broken-hearted that the pizza didn't live up to all of the hype we had heard.
“Satisfaction” was the word of the evening.
We eyeballed some of the other dishes showing up at the tables around us.
Huge and colorful plates of Antipasto salad.
Giant meatballs resting precariously on mounds of spaghetti.
Bountiful plates of Ravioli and Lasagna.
We chatted with our neighbors and they smiled at us between lusty bites, letting us know that they were really enjoying their meals.
You could tell that they were "regulars."
And one young man put everything into perspective as he told us:
“Don't forget they have more than just pizza.”
That was enough to bring us back again.
I have always said, simple pleasures are the best.
"Ciao" until tomorrow.
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