Il Giardino – San Diego, California, USA

We wandered around the ‘Gaslamp Quarter’ for a while looking for somewhere to eat. We checked many menus, kind of looking for Italian food that wasn’t too expensive! We checked this menu twice before actually decided to go in and eat. I am glad we did eat here, because we both agreed that this is probably the best Italian food we have ever eaten… it started out a little weird. We began by ordering a couple of glasses of Il Giardino Merlot (an excellent choice as it turned out – the wine was beautiful!). Following that, the waitress brought over a plate of meat to show us the lovely cuts that they had today. I jumped in pretty quickly and told her that we don’t eat meat, mainly so that she wouldn’t waste our time, but also because I didn’t really feel like looking at raw meat before eating my dinner… and not only because I don’t eat the stuff, even if I ate it, I don’t think I would want to see it raw before it was cooked and put on my plate! After this, she seemed to avoid us for a little while, but after she finished bringing out the meals for the table of about 15, she returned to us and ended up being fairly chatty. Anyway – food! We started by sharing the insalata di pomodoro – sliced tomatoes, red onion, basil and avocado. Since we were sharing, they actually brought it out, then divided it onto 2 plates and gave us each our own plate of it. Kind of a nice touch. It was delicious. For mains, I ordered my favourite meal – penne arrabbiatta and Martin ordered spaghetti al pomodoro. When they came out, I thought that they would taste much the same as the sauces looked very similar, however upon tasting Martin’s dish, the flavours were incredibly different. The arrabbiatta was amazing, the sauce was so obviously freshly made with lovely chunks of fresh tomato and just the right amount of chilli! Martin’s spaghetti also had chunks of fresh tomato, but it also had a lovely nutty flavour to it. We figured we were on a bit of a roll with the good food and decided to order some dessert as well. We had overheard the options being presented to the table next to us and I had thought that I might try the cannoli. However, they don’t just tell you what desserts there are – they show you – there is one of each set up on a plate and they bring them to your table to make your mouth water… So, upon seeing them, there was no way I could go past the profiteroles, but Martin decided he would have the cannoli. And both were great… As I said at the beginning, we think that this is the best Italian food we have ever eaten… if you are in San Diego, don’t miss it!