In 1959, Domenic Donato ventured from his hometown of Cosenza, Italy, to California, where he opened his first Italian restaurant with recipes from his mother, Rosa, whom he considers the best cook in Italy. Donato soon opened a succession of Italian restaurants now owned and operated by his sister, brother, and sons. In 2006, Donato passed down Mangia Italiano on Third to close family friends Adam and Kathy. The pair faithfully continues to follow the recipes passed down through generations of the Donato family, as well as adding modern twists to Italian classics.
Inside the kitchens, chefs bake eggplant parmigana with ricotta and romano cheese, lightly flour and sauté veal with fresh mushrooms and marsala wine sauce, and toss spicy shrimp with angel-hair pasta, olive oil, and sun-dried tomatoes. In the dining area, murals of Italian seascapes are dotted with white sails puffing in the wind and depict ancient ruins full of crumbling columns and Betamax players. When not inspecting the restaurant's art, patrons can dig into plates of housemade cannolis and tiramisu.
John's Incredible Pizza Co. graces guests with acres of incandescent entertainment options and a fully stocked buffet ($9.49 value, $1.50 value for drinks). In addition to a slew of soups, salads, pasta, desserts, and traditional pizza choices, the buffet brandishes a bouquet of specialty pizza creations, including spicy peanut-butter, barbecue chicken ranch, and alfredo pizza.
The gustatory artisans at Ono's Café populate their menu of Asian-fusion cuisine with a bounty of fresh ingredients that evoke the flavors of California and the distant Pacific Rim. Tables strain under the heft of such entrees as the macadamia-crusted salmon, which ladles a regal banana sauce atop grilled king salmon before showering the plate with an aromatic confetti of black thai rice and asian slaw ($17). Bearing a mosaic of temporary grill-mark tattoos, the kalbi short ribs ($14) waft their flame-kissed aromas across the dining room, and tempura-battered shrimp and vegetables snuggle alongside a salad with miso-raspberry vinaigrette to create the tempura mix ($11). Ono's Café proffers an array of delicate sushi delights, including assorted hand rolls ($4+) as well as a signature house roll, which gives softshell crab and cucumber a great big rice hug before layering albacore tuna, avocado, and a fully paid mortgage atop the creation. Visitors considering a drink can turn to Ono's beverage menu, which comprises beer, cocktails, sake, wine, and multifarious hot and cold options for those who prefer nonalcoholic swallowing.
Every pizza at zpizza is freshly prepared, hand thrown, gently coaxed into the oven using soft birdcalls and pheromone trails, and fire-baked to crispy perfection. The dough is prepared fresh daily from 100% certified-organic wheat, and z is also happy to offer certified organic and gluten-free crusts, sating the pizza desire of the allergic, dieters, and wheat sympathizers. Toppings include award-winning Wisconsin skim mozzarella, MSG-free pepperoni, certified-organic tomato sauce, additive-free sausage, and fresh produce. Try a large ZBQ pizza (with barbecue sauce, mozzarella, barbecue chicken, roasted pepper, red onion, tomato, cilantro, and sweet corn ($16.95); or a chicken curry and yam rustica (with mozzarella, curry chicken, yam, mango chutney, raisin, and cilantro; $8.95). Vegans can delight in a small Berkeley, a vegan cheese veggie pizza (with marinara, vegan cheese, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, tomato, mushroom, red onion, and bell pepper; $11.50), and traveling tongues can sate their wanderlust with a mouthwatering Moroccan rustica (with pesto, mozzarella, basil, roasted eggplant, feta cheese, caramelized onion, and pine nut ($8.95).
Though named for a fiery volcano, Krakatoa Café reigns as the coolest spot in Golden Hill. This charming olive-colored Craftsman bungalow has an abundance of character, and good eats to back them up. Locals chill on the wooden deck, shaded by a fig tree, enjoying the lush foliage and bamboo wind chimes. It’s easy to relax here, sipping coffee drinks, smoothies or craft beers with friends and snacking on decadent house-made pastries or gourmet sandwiches, like the Ubehebe, complete with maple-cured bacon, roasted turkey, cream cheese, cranberry sauce and crisp romaine. One of the West Coast’s finest roasters, Caffe Calabria, supplies the coffee beans and artisan teas, while manager Julie bakes divine desserts and always has gluten-free or vegan treats on hand. Happy Hour calls for a Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale or orange blossom mimosa on the dog-friendly patio.
Set in a low brick building on the western edge of San Diego’s East Village, Basic Urban Kitchen and Bar is a reconfigured work space that’s been laid out to take advantage of a relaxed, downtown vibe. The 1912 warehouse corner space is arranged with plentiful WiFi for afternoon meetings and casual dining, including thin-crust brick oven pizzas like their signature mashed potato pie. There’s a chain-curtained central VIP lounge for special group events, and the long bar is bordered by huge garage doors rolled up most days, with a pool table near the back wall. The seating invites conversations on low, upholstered platforms that can be wheeled into comfy configurations to fit the size of your party.