Though perhaps known best for its catering, Elijah’s also serves its New York-style deli cuisine at its restaurant along with bringing it to customers. The deli staff builds sky-high and overstuffed sandwiches with piles of hot corned beef, smoked turkey, or juicy roast beef. They give their eats names such as “The Rockefeller Center” to remind diners of the time they never went there but ate a delicious sandwich boasting its name.
Barely a wave's crash from the water, Del Mar Pizza has hosted hungry beach-goers—some sans shirt or shoes—at its tables for more than 20 years. Amid walls lined with long surfboards and artful beach photography, chefs whip up gooey specialty pizzas by the pie or slice, with traditional or New York–style thin crusts. After downing a brew on the outdoor patio, patrons can head inside to two-hand a Boar's Head deli sandwich or clamber up overhead lights to hang ten on wall-mounted surfboards.
Acclaimed chef/restaurateur Scott Harris recreated his popular Chicago trattoria in Del Mar, where patrons enjoy rustic family style cooking in a casual friendly atmosphere. Mia Francesca Del Mar’s clean design, with its wooden floors, giant glass windows and antique chandeliers, is enhanced by black-and-white photos by renowned lensman Paul Elledge, who captures the faces and landscapes of the Tuscan countryside. The menu changes often, but is always filled with home-style dishes like bruschetta with asparagus, mussels in spicy tomato sauce, gnocchi with wild mushrooms, or roasted garlic chicken. Chef Woody Benitez helms the Del Mar incarnation describing the food as, “old-school trattoria cuisine like how a mother cooks for her child.” Customers cap the meal with airy and sweet tiramisu.
Chef and restaurateur Scott Harris originally started Davanti Enoteca in Chicago, and his growing chain has now reached great heights in San Diego County. The first Southern California incarnation immediately became a favorite in Little Italy, and its sister restaurant in Del Mar Heights has also won over the local crowd. Davanti in Del Mar feels cozy and charming, thanks to its exposed brick walls, ambient lighting and lively communal tables. The outdoor patio is also popular for leisurely lunches that might involve pizzas, homemade pastas, charcuterie boards and more. To start, try the truffle egg toast with fontina and asparagus, or a roasted pear and goat cheese salad with arugula. It’s a great place for a date night or after-movie bite and libation.
Sam's Pizza tends to pizza hankerings by giving its gourmet pies top billing on a menu already crowded with star Italian eats. Pizza backstories begin with chefs kneading house-made dough, which they then punch, lob, and give pep talks to before baking it in an oven. The process results in creations such as the BBQ chicken pizza, which mixes five toppers, including chicken, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms ($19.99 for 16"). Diners escape the tyranny of tomato with white pizzas that lay out a medley of three cheeses and garlic ($9.99 for 10"). Diners await their pizzas while sipping beers such as Bud Light ($3.99) or calculating the exact number of krill in the ocean from the pizzeria's outdoor seating area, which is replete with views of the water.