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Zia's Bistro

Spaghetti con Polpette
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The great thing about Little Italy is the abundance of restaurants congregated in such a walkable area. Without a doubt, most of them are indeed of Italian flare (although there is one English style pub in its midst, go figure). Ranging from the Ma & Pa throwback to their Italian roots (red and white checkered table cloths that seat 30) to the trendy, eclectic venues with modern looks (slick interiors and nightclub style bars).

Having frequented many of these esteemed restaurants we gotta say that Zia’s Bistro reigns as one of our favorites. Located towards the north end of Little Italy on the corner of India and Fir, Zia’s is the perfect combination of these restaurants types in Little Italy. Part Ma & Pa (that would be the old-world recipes and the friendly atmosphere) and part stylish (that would be the mildly upscale settings and classic but slick seating and décor), Zia’s wraps it all into one fine dining experience.

To start of, you must, MUST take a seat on the outside patio where a view of the bay entrances you. If you do take a seat inside you will still enjoy the wide open, airy interior, thanks to the open doors that let the breezes filter through. We drifted into Zia’s after a fab time at the new Little Italy Mercato (a farmers market and great way to start the weekend). After seeing all of the cheeses, meats, pastas and veggies for sale at the Mercato, we were ready to feast on some good ‘ol Italian food.

We grabbed one of those patio seats for lunch on the usual beautiful San Diego day. Not only do you get a great view of the bay but you can also settle back and people watch to your hearts content. We ordered a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio to ease into the meal. We were also presented with complimentary garlic bread (not just the usual plain bread) that was nicely subtle in its texture, flavor and clearly freshly made. A great way to get you in the Italian mood.

One thing we caught on to immediately was the service. We are talking tastefully coiffed (black trousers and white button up shirt) and amazingly gracious. Our server made everyone feel special with his very personal friendly nature, menu knowledge and responsive service. Talk about feeling welcome.

Vitello Marsala
Copyright©2008 sandiego.com, Inc.

The menu offers classic dishes and dances with fun sophisticated selections. One just cannot resist a simple order of Spaghetti con Polpette (with meatballs and a traditional Sunday sauce) so order it we did, and it did not disappoint. The rich meat sauce was an orchestration of bold tomato flavors and hearty spices. The pasta itself consisted of thick noodles and lush, savory meatballs. We also ordered the Vitello Marsala (veal medallions topped with mushrooms and a sweet Marsala wine sauce) served with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. The veal was a little overdone to our liking but even so, the flavors were spot on and very enjoyable. The mashed potatoes were whipped up to perfection and the veggies provided comfort that you had at least had one of your 5-a-day servings to offset the carb intake.

By the time the meal was complete (yes Mom we cleaned our plates) and a second glass of wine sipped away, we enjoyed that euphoric feeling that only begets a really great meal……we needed a nap. You can’t offer a better compliment than that. Zia’s is moderately priced and offers a generous full meal for your dollars. Go for the food, go for the view or go for the service. You get the point. Enjoy!

The Good – The great view of the bay, a rare treat from a table in Little Italy.

The Bad – parking is always in issue in Little Italy, so be prepared for the hunt and bring lots of quarters.

Details »
  • City: San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: 619-234-1344
  • Name: Zia's Bistro
  • Address: 1845 India Street