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Volare Restaurant

Many of us have driven past the nondescript intersection of Midway Drive and Barnett Avenue, maybe on our way to the big post office or just passing through from PCH to Rosecrans in Point Loma. Perhaps you, too, have seen the inconspicuous signage that is painted martyrishly on the edifice wall declaring “Volare”. Well it has haunted my adventurous spirit for about ten years and I have never been able to convince my foodie friends to join me on what they assumed was a fool’s errand. I finally convinced my brave girlfriend and occasioned to go one winter evening after a long drive home from Las Vegas.

I have only driven by in the daytime and I admit when the sun is shining it does not gleam like an oasis, but rather looks run down and silent. The windows are well obscured and all you can imagine is that whatever is left of the italian mafia in San Diego probably works out their dealings here when they aren’t at the closed Pernicano’s in Hillcrest. We ventured into the parking lot which is adjacent to an Adult Superstore. Okay, I expected to find an empty lot and no one inside. Contrary to this, the parking lot was full and so was the restaurant. We were not approached but after reading the specials board and glancing inside the ill adorned room with it’s animated patrons, we proceeded. Eventually we were noticed and led to the only available table near the kitchen.

Nervous with anticipation we received our menus and were greeted by Marco. We reviewed the menu and by now we were salivating. So many delicious options awaited our hungry eyes. After ordering a caesar to share, and some entrees, I finally looked at my surroundings. Aside from the cheap poster art and pizza parlorish table and chairs, there was nothing in here to denote you were in an Italian dive. The seventies wood panelling offset the plastic poinsettias with no compliment. I noticed dust up above in every nook and cranny and our green table cloth was already well used that evening. Why on earth were all these people here?

Our caesar was plain and poorly dressed and left alot to be desired, but on a return trip, we tried the small antipasto which was a delicious bootie of goodies and more than enough for two people. We enjoyed the traditional ingredients but were moved by the addition of pickeled vegetables, like cauliflower, carrots, bell pepper and pearl onions. The dressing was a basic and tangy balsamic vinaigrette that accented the cured meats well. But aside from that, we weren’t yet unconvinced that something special was about to happen here.

With the arrival of the entrees, our senses were not to be dissapointed. Rachel had the Baked Canneloni with Meat Sauce and I had one of the specials which was rotini noodles with italian sausage, peas and mushrooms. Our taste buds went from 0-60 in a mouthful. Her canneloni was rich and delicious, the winner of our first visit. The meat sauce was so well spiced and authentic, with a warm crust from oven melted cheese. My rotini was bountiful and the sausage was savory. We ate to our delights and enjoyed some decent house wines. For a bargain, you can have a house glass of chianti that goes down well belieing the deflated price. We also learned that you could bring in your own wine for only a $6.00 corkage fee and we did just that on our next visit.

Rachel, again, ordered the canneloni on our second try and we were both pleased with the consistency of the dish from the previous dinner. This time I reached out and had the Gnocchi Romano, tender dumplings in a rich creamy tomato sauce with mushrooms. I admit it was good on first taste, but a subtle addition of salt pepper and chili flakes made my mouth go boom as if I had awoken some of the more hidden flavors. Rachel also ordered a cup of minestrone soup and she commented that it was just right and full of tomato flavor.

Now dessert is a battle that I enjoy taking part in any night of the week, but I can be pretty particular about this course. After some gentle prodding of our waiter, we found out that the cannoli was homemade and the tiramisu was outsourced. Both proved to be decadent and delightful. I would return for either item, easily. The best part about all of this was the bottom line. Appetizer, entrees, wine and dessert for two, and we were out the door for about $36.00.

The atmosphere could certainly use a facelift. There remains a nativity scene and garland over the passthrough window to the bar and the gas lamp look-alike chandeliers don’t fit with the rest of the decor. But the music varied from Dean Martin to italian opera and somehow managed to divert my attention until the show stopping entrees arrived. The service is sparse, but very friendly. Marco took the time to tell us some stories, includingthat this place has been owned and operated by the same family for about twenty years. This is not fine dining, my friends, but it is a wonderful experience to be had and I hope you will take my advice. The very last thing I noticed as we paid the check was that the receipt was adorned with maracas and the sentiment “Muchas Gracias, Mi Casa Es Su Casa”, perhaps in the wrong language, but the meaning was not lost on us as we were thanked with a generous smile and a wave.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-224-0030
  • Name: Volare
  • Address: 3528 Barnett Avenue