Antica Trattoria

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December 28, 2007
Cuisine: Italian

5654 Lake Murray Blvd.
La Mesa, CA 91942

Phone: 619-463-9919
Website: http://anticatrattoria.com/

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White bread with oil and vinegar (complimentary)

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Peperoni In Bella Vista – Roasted yellow and red bell peppers served with capers, anchovies, shaved parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil ($7.95)

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Fettuccine Al Gorgonzola E Noci – Fettuccine with diced pears, walnuts and mascarpone cheese in a gorgonzola sauce ($14.95)

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Creme Brulee ($6)

My mom and I have a really sweet tradition that we’ve been doing since forever. We shop like mad men at Fashion Valley and then go out to dinner at either the Cheesecake Factory or California Pizza Kitchen. Even though I usually shun chain restaurants, these two have a special place in my heart.

Last Friday night, my mom and I relived our glory days and swung by CPK for a bite. Unfortunately, the powers that be at CPK headquarters have decided to remove the single best pizza from their menu – Pear and Gorgonzola:

Caramelized pears, Gorgonzola, Fontina and Mozzarella cheeses, sweet caramelized onions, topped with chopped hazelnuts and served field greens tossed in our garden-herb ranch dressing

Rather than settle for a lesser pizza, my mom suggested that we head back to La Mesa for some Italian fare at Antica Trattoria. I think I ate here maybe five years ago with my friend’s family, but am not totally certain. It’s a good thing I keep track of everything I eat on gas•tron•o•my these days!

The cozy restaurant was packed when we arrived, so we waited 15 minutes for a table to open up. We were served some warm bread with oil and vinegar after we placed our order. I couldn’t taste much of the vinegar because it was super-thick and sunk to the bottom of the dish. It had been months since I had American-style bread; I loved how toasty the crust was and how fluffy the insides were.

Our meal officially kicked off with the Peperoni In Bella Vista – roasted yellow and red bell peppers served with capers, anchovies, shaved Parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil. Both my mom and I were pleased with this dish. The yellow peppers did not make an appearance, but the red ones were beautifully roasted and flavorful. The intense saltiness from the anchovies and Parmesan cheese was my favorite element.

Still yearning for pears and Gorgonzola, my mom and I shared the Fettuccine Al Gorgonzola E Noci for our pasta course. By the way, we were charged a $2 split fee. WTF?* The pasta was very creamy and the Gorgonzola dominated the other flavors. The pears were a little scarce and slightly mushy. I’m thinking green apples would be a better choice texture and flavor-wise. I did not embrace the walnuts, but my mom really dug ’em.

We finished off our meal with a decent creme brulee. I thought that the powdered sugar dusted on top was a bit much and the “brulee” was overly charred in some spots, but it was good enough for La Mesa standards.

*What’s up with restaurants making portions too large for one person and charging a split fee? Wickity whack, I say.

6 Responses to “Antica Trattoria”


  1. 1 Jon F. January 7, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    The split fee exists to deter people from splitting, mostly because it takes more work to make two plates (which can be a bitch during dinner rush), especially if the plating has several elements (although with a simple pasta dish like this, it doesn’t make that much difference). At my current restaurant, we don’t charge for splitting, but I always wonder why people can’t just share. They’ll bring you extra plates and you can serve yourself from the main plate.

  2. 2 Gastronomer January 7, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Jon – it was lovely of the restaurant to plate individual portions for ma and me, but we didn’t ask or need them to do that. We would’ve been quite happy saving $2 and plating our own pasta.

    I’m happy to hear that your restaurant is split-fee-free ;-).

  3. 3 Jon F. January 7, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Ok. I didn’t understand that. That’s quite outrageous. I would’ve been pissed. Did it mention a fee on the menu?

  4. 4 Gastronomer January 7, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    No, I don’t think the menu mentioned it.

    Btw, I think I’m going to start getting really mad about split fees. It will be my new cause when I return to America. Watch out.

  5. 5 ChefRob February 20, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    G,

    Yea this is a good restaurant especially east of the 5. It is kinda a restaurant graveyard out there (east county), though I hear it is getting better ;).

    I grew up in El Cajon and lived in Da Nang for a year, working at the Furama hotel. Miss it much, have a great time and keep up the blogging!

  6. 6 Gastronomer February 21, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Hello Chef Rob, I think the food scene in East County is humble and tasty – especially the ethnic eats in La Mesa and on El Cajon Blvd. You should definitely return and check it out sometime. That’s awesome that you worked at the Furama. If I could afford it, I’d be there!


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