RESTAURANTS IN LITTLE
ITALY, SAN DIEGO’S
HOTTEST HOOD, ARE
BIG ON AMBIENCE
IRONSIDE FISH & OYSTER
There’s eye candy in every corner of this
eatery devoted to all things under the sea:
octopus tentacle lightbulbs, irreverent
signs and an entire wall covered with
silver piranha heads. Splurge on the
oversized lobster roll or hit up the raw
bar for freshly shucked oysters.
Dark woods and stone line this sleek
two-story restaurant, which has strong
cocktails and refined American and
Asian-influenced dishes by chef Brian
Redzikowski, who worked at Joël
Robuchon in Las Vegas. The rooftop
lounge takes on a club atmosphere at
night, with rentable private cabanas.
JUNIPER AND IVY
Richard Blais, a winner and recurring
judge on Top Chef and acclaimed
cookbook author, helped kick off the
dining scene in this part of Little Italy.
The glamorous restaurant is housed in a
former warehouse. Order several small
plates to share, and for dessert, don’t
miss the “yodel”—a log of devil’s-food
cake topped with hot chocolate.
HERB & WOOD
The newest installment on San Diego’s
hottest block comes from another Top
Chef alum, Brian Malarkey, and spans
almost 9,000 square feet with a stylish
dining room, cozy patio and adjoining
gourmet market. The elegant restaurant
is fitted with soft, comfortable furniture,
with no reclaimed wood in sight. The
menu is packed with roasted meats and
vegetables, handmade pastas and gourmet pizzas.
CRAFT & COMMERCE
This is one of the bars credited with
starting San Diego’s craft cocktail scene.
The owners recently revamped the space
to add a second bar area, more seating
and vintage taxidermy to the decor. Find
the hidden door inside to enter False
Idol, the extravagant adjoining tiki bar.
This quirky New Zealand–themed pub
has cotton sheep hanging from the ceiling, a large patio and a cute indoor bar.
Try the curried lamb bread bowl or the
fish and chips.
Little Italy was once a fishing village and home to the city’s
Italian immigrants. Several authentic Italian eateries dot the
neighborhood, worthy of a visit: Mona Lisa’s, Filippi’s Pizza
Grotto, Bencotto, Monello, Civico 1845 and Sorrento.