An unexpected gem

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Last night SweetPrince and I had our standing Friday night dinner date. Our original intention was to go to Fidels which is a mexican restaurant where we particularly enjoy the crab burritos, but it is a very popular place and even at 7:45, it was packed and the wait was 40 mins. Plus, the bar was jammed and there was nowhere good to sit for that time. Back in the car we go and continue north along the coast which gave a lovely view of the sunset. He remembered that there was a newer Italian place that he’d heard about so we made out way there. Torches out front of porch seating just across from the railroad tracks and the ocean greated us. It’s called Cicciottis Trattoria Italiana and Seafood.

There were three seating areas, the outside porch, a front room which looked to be an add on – almost more like a sun room area, and then the inside room with the large bar and live music. We were asked “music or no music?” and of course I said music! I do like that they give you a choice :-) For me, the inside seating was perfect because there was also a tv over the bar with the Padres game on. Right away, they brought us bread with a dipping bowl of stewed tomoatoes:

Oh, heaven! And the bread had a lovely warm center.

OK, I should be truthfull. That picture up there is bowl #2, here is what happened to #1:

The menu had a terrific selection of salads and appetizers and soups and pasta and wood fired pizzas. I mean, I wanted to try everything I saw. Initially I spotted a very interesting sounding seafood lasagna which appealed to both of us. There was also lobster ravioli which is one of my favorites. So we agreed to order both and share. Unfortunately, they were out of the lasagna! Seems it is a very popular dish there. So instead I stuck with the ravioli and SP ordered a linguini shrimp with diablo (spicy marinara) sauce. He ordered his personal favorite caesar salad to start. I was content with the bread and tomatoes! I ordered a glass of sangiovese wine which was one of the cheapest by the glass on the menu ($7.50) but was really lovely. Smooth and fruity with no after taste at all. Oh yes, given that my last review focused on the overall price value, this menu was VERY reasonably priced. In fact, at the end the overall bill for the two of us was the same as at whisknladle, but we’d had much more food here.

SP declared the salad delicious and he is quite critical when it comes to caesar salad. He likes to taste the anchovi, though the dressing should not overpower and of course the romaine should be crisp. The cheese was in lovely flakes over the top.

Then the entrees arrived:

The shrimp diablo was wonderful. SP used the bread to soak up every last drip of the sauce. The lobster ravioli was not quite as good. I realize that I prefer the dish in with a blush sauce, or vodka sauce vs this pure white sauce which was a bit bland. There were generous chunks of lobster in each ravioli though which was nice.

For dessert I ordered the creme brulee knowing it would probably not match up to what I consider the best creme brulee at Ruth Chris’ Steak House. I was right. The top part was too thick and overly flambe’d. The inside custard was fine, though not perfectly smooth. Served with strawberries and sprinkled with powdered sugar it was still quite a nice touch of sweet to share at the end. SP wants to try the canoli next time :-)

Yes, there will be a next time despite the not quite perfect review. There are many more items on the menu we would both like to try. Plus, the atmosphere really makes this place. The live music was one gentleman who could not have looked LESS like he sounded! Long hair pulled back in a ponytail under a fedora with a rather rough looking face and wearing abeach casual linen button down shirt and khaki slacks, he looked like a local folksy musician from the beach. But, he played the keyboards and sang just beautifully! From operatic Boccelli pieces to Andrew Lloyd Weber to the Beatles to Sinatra to finishing up as ate dessert with Billy Joel’s Piano Man. He was wonderful! Even though we arrived around 8pm, the place steadily filled up so that by the time we left every table was filled in all eating areas. Service was excellent. Very attentive. Water refills and bread/tomatoes came frequently. And the value – fabulous! With the wine and dessert, two entres and the salad it was just over $60 before tip. Given the location, atmosphere and entertainment, that was well worth it!

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Gardening day today. Lots of overgrown things to cut back.

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One thought on “An unexpected gem

  1. shermeister

    Oooh, that sounds like a heavenly place… it sounds delicious!

    P.S. Don’t food dishes look funny in pictures sometimes? I think it’s the flash, but sometimes they look so, glisteny, or something…

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