Owner and head chef Francesco Basile cut his culinary teeth as a young boy in his native Sicily, peeling potatoes and cleaning fish for traditional family feasts. After graduating from culinary school, Francesco broadened his skills and palate, mastering meals of hand-rolled pappardelle at Italian resorts and learning to craft mouthwatering feasts of Italian-American fare at bustling restaurants in southern California. By opening Antica Trattoria in 2001, he built a business dedicated to cooking with fresh ingredients and celebrating simple, traditional Italian dishes, enrapturing diners with meals of pepper-crusted pork loin, melted brie with figs jam, and seafood stews swimming in tomato-herb broth. Together with right-hand-cook Eric Ruiz, Francesco changes his menu with the seasons, delivering seafood plates tinged with the aroma of fresh herbs and fennel in the spring and walnut cream sauces and pumpkin ravioli in the autumn.
The restaurant exudes a rustic, timeless charm, with walls of bare brick decorated with tops of wooden wine crates and colorful murals of idyllic Italian countryscapes. A towering china hutch in the rear dining area evokes images of a grandmother's kitchen, and an elegant marble-topped wine bar brings forth memories of a grandmother's secret speakeasy, inviting diners to sample tasty digestifs of fine vino from across Italy, France, and the Pacific coast.
The hair-pampering pros at The Haircutters have trimmed locks and transformed outmoded manes for more than a quarter of a century. Unlike many salons, in which shampooing is a separate service, the team starts off every haircut and style by treating scalps to suds with handfuls of professional products from top brands such as Biolage and American Crew.
Apart from the signature shampoo-and-cuts, the staff at The Haircutters also offers color and texturizing services. Redken color camp for men gets hombres’ heads looking good, and spiral perms cascade with curls. Devoted to client convenience, The Haircutters welcomes walk-ins seven days a week.
Exposed wooden rafters and cobblestone walls create the rustic ambiance that The Vine Cottage’s name promises, but the menu adds dimension to this theme with a contemporary take on Italian and American staples. The chefs value sustainably produced meals, so they seek out seasonal, organic, and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. These ingredients lend vibrant flavors to the menu’s flatbread-style pizzas, hearty pasta dishes, and grilled steaks. Housemade duck leg confit and remoulade also help to create a dining experience that is homey yet refined, much like the artwork-laden refrigerator in Monet’s childhood home.
As San Diego?s oldest interactive mystery-comedy dinner theater, Mystery Cafe Dinner Theater dazzles audiences with live comedic mystery performances. Each show boasts an interactive format in which actors engage with the audience, possibly involving them in plotlines and using them in cameo appearances.
The chefs at Damn The Man Sandwiches mastermind a menu of traditional handhelds alongside nine homemade creations in an anarchy-inspired eatery. In one savory scenario, turkey cuddles up next to capicolla and salami under a blanket of provolone and pesto on a fluffy ciabatta bed (a $5.95 value) that, unlike a regular bed, is safe to jump on. Focaccia anchored with peppered turkey, capicolla, roast beef, and avocado makes taste muscles swoon (a $6.59 value), and roasted chicken, bacon, smoked cheddar, and avocado stuff a french roll (a $6.79 value) to satiate stomach rumblings. A bag of chips accompanies each order and can be used to crunchify sandwiches, while a pair of drinks clears throats for further feasting or impromptu toasts to the ice machine.
Trolley Stop Deli's choppers whip up sandwiches with Boar's Head Premium meats, toss crisp salads, and dish out breakfast fare daily. Browse the menu and select from nine specialty sandwiches ($7.25 each), such as the California, with roasted turkey and avocado, or the Cordon Bleu, featuring chicken married to a slice of ham by the power vested in melted swiss as witnessed by mayo, dijon, and a very jealous toasted sourdough. A bill of seven salads includes the roasted turkey- and swiss-infused pasta salad ($5.50), as well as the stuffed tomatoes packed with tuna, chicken, or egg salad lounging on a duvet of greens ($6.75). The Reuben Rapp and the veggie-and-cheese wrap ($7.25) hide fresh ingredients in airtight pockets. If hunger strikes at first light like an invading army or an incompetent vampire, diners can pop by Trolley Stop Deli for a three-egg bacon omelet croissant ($4.25), a bagel with cream cheese ($2.25), or the San Diegan breakfast wrap comprising chicken, cheese, salsa, jalapeños, and sour cream ($4.95).