A spaghetti noodle, much like a swimming-pool noodle, maintains its shape until it's exposed to boiling water or sat on by children. Savor pasta's forced flexibility with today's Groupon to Antica Trattoria in La Mesa. Choose between the following options:
- For $17, you get $35 worth of Italian cuisine for dinner.
- For $10, you get $20 worth of Italian cuisine for lunch.
Lauded by La Mesa Patch for its family feel, Antica Trattoria serves as epicurean playground for Sicilian-bred executive chef and owner Francesco Basile, a grad of the Istituto Statale Alberghiero culinary school in Palermo. Servers versed in Old World customs deliver dishes composed of fresh, seasonal ingredients after fluently reciting the daily specials in Italy's traditional Old English. The dinner menu transports patrons across the Atlantic with the maiale alla piemontese's peppercorn-crusted pork loin, draped in caramelized apples ($18), and gustatory architects stack penne alla norma with a mozzarella cheese scaffolding draped in garlic tomato sauce ($12). Quash midday cravings with the lunch menu's veal-stuffed panino parmigiano ($12) or a jumble of parma prosciutto and arugula atop the pizzetta Toscana pie ($10), an entree more authentic than a lesson on smooth-talking from Cary Grant.
The recently revamped eatery's wood-topped wine bar houses more than 50 fruity potables, including an Abruzzo-born Montepulciano Ca Donini ($7/glass). Exposed wooden beams soar over diners gazing upon walls frosted with murals of rustic Italian villages and traditional linguini trim.
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 veal scaloppini, 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 and the Pacific coast.