The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Delicious Italian @ Mona Lisa Italian Foods (Little Italy), San Diego

After our walk through the farmers' market in Little Italy on our first day in San Diego, we headed to Mona Lisa for some Italian. It was too late for lunch, but much too early for dinner, so we just decided to do both meals in one. We didn't have much choice anyway, since the serving sizes were huger than expected. Mona Lisa Italian Foods is the perfect all-in-one stop for all foods Italian, with a deli on one side and a restaurant on the other. The deli stocks fresh produce as well as Italian wines, cheeses, meats (prosciutto, anyone?) and of course, pasta - but we lingered the longest in the biscotti section. I heard that the deli sandwiches are good, and some people even say the sandwiches are more tasty than the restaurant's food. I was pretty happy with the food we had in the restaurant, but I regret to say we were way to full after our meal to try a deli sandwich.

The deli shop at Mona Lisa:

Through a doorway from the deli is a relatively large dining area with two distinct rooms. When we'd arrived at 2:30pm, lunch service was just about to conclude. The lunch menu contained all the pizza items and majority of the sandwiches from the a-la-carte menu, and a select few pasta dishes were available in two sizes and at more affordable prices. We wanted to try the full dinner menu which was only available after 3pm, and our lovely waitress was kind enough to make an early request to the kitchen on our behalf.

One of two dining rooms at the restaurant:

The red and green of the Italian flag dominated the interior's colour scheme, and there were booth, bar and table seating available to suit the individual preferences. The service was amicable and attentive. The dinner menu had a good variety of pizzas, antipasti, sandwiches, pasta and ravioli dinners. The house specialties looked good too, and they came with extras like soup/salad, spaghetti and garlic bread. Serving sizes were generous, and two dishes proved too much for two adults and one kiddy. I assure you nothing was wasted, except for some small crumbs of garlic bread that we just could not fit in.

We asked the boy to choose the pizza topping, and he chose the Italian Sausage Pizza (US$12.95). We asked for extra olives (US$1.95 extra):

The pizza was huge with a very generous amount of mozzarella cheese. Delicious with the right ratio of crust and toppings:

One of the house specialties, the Cannelloni (US$12.50). Not visible underneath that mound of mozzarella, there were two crepes with ground beef, imported ham, mushrooms and fresh spinach:

A more photogenic look at the cannelloni. Very meaty and really tasty. It was super hot too since it came straight out of the oven, and it was at least five minutes before we could eat it:

We realised towards the end of our meal that we hadn't yet gotten the Garlic Bread that came with the house specialty. It arrived nice and hot shortly after I requested it. At this point we were very full, yet the toasted garlic bread was too good to ignore completely:

There are a lot to love about Mona Lisa Italian Foods, and we went back for a second meal on our final evening in San Diego (that time we got only one pizza, and we were full!). This Italian restaurant is highly recommended, especially with a large group!

Our pizza on our second visit was the night's special: Fresh Tomato, Basil, Garlic & Pork Pizza (US$14.95). This wasn't drowned in so much mozzarella, and the fresh tomatoes and herbs added a juiciness and flavour punch to the topping. Yum!

[The prices quoted above in US$ are excluding taxes and tips]

Mona Lisa Italian Foods
2061 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
Tel. +1 619 234 4893

Mona Lisa Italian Foods: Restaurant & Deli on Urbanspoon

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