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.
Credited with inventing the chicken sandwich in 1946, Truett Cathy opened the first Chick-fil-A in 1967, gaining fame with the original chicken sandwich and crispy waffle-cut fries. Breaded by hand, each boneless breast fillet tumbles in special seasonings before 100% refined peanut oil endows a crispiness as golden as the heart of Eugene Levy. Though tender fowl available in sandwich or nugget form fills out the majority of the menu, Chick-fil-A also carries an assortment of breakfast sandwiches, side salads, and desserts.
Before any cuts of corn-fed Nebraskan beef grill above The Steakhouse on Broadway's mesquite coals, Executive Chef Ramon Gomez ages them himself for 28 days. Between the aging and the cooking, each juicy cut of steak arrives infused with smoky flavor, complemented by locally sourced veggies and sauces such as chimichurri or sweet apple creamy horseradish. Steak isn't the only culinary card up Ramon's sleeve. He serves succulent crab legs by the pound, crafts housemade pastas, and carves up to 32-ounce pieces of mouth-watering prime rib from a 20-pound Nebraska rib roast.
Manning the walnut-paneled bar behind a granite countertop, barkeeps complement Ramon's meat-focused entrees with a wide selection of beer and wine. Honoring the steakhouse’s roots that date back to 1968, bartenders stick to tradition cocktail-wise, making libations such as the Manhattan and Old Fashioned with top-shelf spirits.
The old-school drink menu meshes well with the red leather booths of the 1960s-era dining room, whose ambiance has changed little since the steakhouse opened. Back then it was a hotspot for celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and Jack Lemon, Jack Lemmon’s pet lemon. Today, it hosts live entertainment almost nightly, including crooner Ray Correa, who the San Diego Reader praised for his "crafty guitar playing and alluring voice."
It's hard to imagine a seaside dining experience more complete than the one at Dolphins Restaurant, Bar & Banquet. Sailboat masts bob in the harbor just beyond floor-to-ceiling windows, a red canoe hangs from the ceiling to complement nautical flags on the walls, and at the entrance visitors are greeted by a bronze sculpture depicting a human pyramid of dolphins. And that's before you get a look at the menu. Classic seafood dishes such as lobster tails and grilled teriyaki mahi mahi fill plates during dinner service but also during weddings, when tables are draped in white cloth, decorated with floral arrangements, and cleared of all single people. The restaurant also offers a weekly Sunday brunch, with more than 50 items to choose from.
At the sushi bar, chefs wrap colorful seafood and vegetable combinations into 25 largely simple rolls, including the Chef's Marina, which contains tempura rock shrimp and avocado, and the Tijuana, which pairs spicy tuna with roasted jalapenos. In the evening, a tree-studded patio glows with light from several fire-pits, and occasionally the whole restaurant fills with music from live bands, mariachi bands, and DJs.
True to its name, the Basic 5 sandwich from the GreenGo Grilled Cheese Gastro Truck is pretty simple: provolone, sharp-aged cheddar, swiss, muenster, and mozzarella melted together on sourdough bread. From that modest foundation, however, Chef Gaston Corbala uses local and organic ingredients to build innovative variations on the classic sandwich from his eco-friendly food truck.
Into Gaston's specialty grilled cheese sandwiches go everything from butter-fried lobster and smoked jalape?os to hamburger patties made from certified grass-fed beef. Gaston's experiments get even adventurous with his monthly specials, which have included cheddar-cheese-crusted sandwiches with bacon and maple syrup, a tastier alternative to pressing your sandwich against a sappy tree.
Of course, Gaston happily relinquishes the fun of combining unorthodox flavors to his customers. Many sandwiches include a choice of at least one of Gaston's from-scratch spreads, such as ale-beer chipotle mayo. And room can be made in any of GreenGo's sandwiches for add-ons such as balsamic caramelized onions or organic pomodoro sauce.