I’m usually disappointed by so many Italian restaurants serving mediocre cuisine, however after my meal at Solare, I can safely say, this place has won me over, with a stellar menu and a very passionate Italian chef to boot.
I arrive for a late lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in quite some time. He tells me he is friends with the head bartender here and is excited to try the food after hearing a lot about it. I find out that the restaurant has been around for quite some time, however, the current owner took over about a year and a half ago and hired Chef Accursio Lota, formerly at The Marine Room in La Jolla to head up the kitchen.
Chef Accursio stops by our table and I have many questions for him, including the “guitar” spaghetti. He proudly steps away and brings back the chitarra pasta maker to show me. He tells me he makes everything in-house, including all the pastas on the menu from scratch. I am well aware that this is a huge selling point for any Italian restaurant, and one that piques my interest. I am excited to try some of these.
A basket of house-made foccacia is brought to the table for us to munch on while we peruse the menu.
I order the Carpaccio di Wagyu ($14) mainly because I was intrigued by the balsamico pearls on the menu description. Paper thin slices of Wagyu beef sirloin is topped with arugula and dotted with beautifully colored edible borrage flowers. 20-month parmagiano reggiano shavings sit atop the tender beef sprinkled with rosemary salt. A handful of intensely flavored balsamico pearls are strewn around the plate. I have eaten a good many carpaccios in my life time, and I can honestly say, this is one of the best. The flavor profiles are all there giving a uniform mouthful of salty, tart, and a hint of sweetness.
Polpette al Forno ($5 happy hour 3pcs/$11 6pcs) is one of those things I generally gauge Italian restaurants by. Every chef has his or her own recipe and it is usually passed down from generations ago. These home-made Sicilian beef and veal meatballs did not disappoint. They are tender, well-seasoned and paired exquisitely with the stunning marinara sauce. Bravo!
Speck & Creme Fraiche Pizza ($15) is next and it is a Napoli style pizza — thin crust — though not cooked in a 900 degree wood fired oven. The smoked speck, creme fraiche, provolone, poached onion and wild thyme blend well together and fresh parmigiana reggiano is grated at the table.
Because the pasta is made in house, I wanted to try two styles, the first being Agnolotti all’Ortica e Piselli ($19). Agnolotti is a stuffed pasta, and here, these hand-made goodies are filled with nettles. The sauce is light and the stracciatella of burrata adds richness to the dish. I love the English peas adding a slightly sweet freshness to the plate. My only complaint would be that the menu description of crispy prosciutto crudo were not crispy.
Whether you’re vegetarian or not, Timballo di Melanzane ($17) is sure to please. I love eggplant, and I mean LOVE it. My mother used to be amazed at my ability, as a child, to eat plain steamed eggplants with no seasonings on it. Of course this beautifully presented eggplant timbale is seasoned perfectly and topped with a slice of tomato and fresh mozzarella. A sprinkling of parmagiano reggiano completes this dish.
But of course, what I have been waiting for is next — Spaghetti all’Aragosta ($21), the “guitar” spaghetti made in-house on the chitarra pasta maker Chef Accursio brought out earlier. The spaghetti is incredible. Its texture is so toothsome and nothing I have ever had before in southern California. The sauteed Maine lobster are tossed with date tomatoes, spring onion and lemon zest. This spaghetti can be prepared with any sauce and the dish would be outstanding.
We were so pleased with our meal at Solare. This is definitely noteworthy Italian cuisine and Chef Accursio Lota definitely has some major skills. The freshness and simplicity in everything we tasted is exactly what I look for when I’m eating Italian.
2820 Roosevelt Rd
San Diego, CA 92106