The 13 Best Italian Restaurants in San Diego (2024)

Discovering Hidden Gems Affiliate Link Disclosure

Want to know where to find all the best Italian restaurants in San Diego? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

There’s an entire neighborhood in San Diego with some of the best Italian restaurants you can find called Little Italy.

You probably can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants here.

But even outside of this area you can find even more of the best Italian restaurants in San Diego from all over town.

Planning A Trip? Use Our Favorite Resources Below!

?? Accommodations
?? Tours/Experiences
?? Flights
?? Car Rentals

Best Italian Restaurants In San Diego

Here are the top ones we recommend both in and out of Little Italy.

1. Civico 1845

Address: 1845 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy Neighborhood)

Civico 1845 has several unique qualities.

It’s the first restaurant in California with a full Vegan Italian menu and they’ve been doing it since 2015.

They specialize in Calabrian Italian food.

Calabria is a region of Italy that is known as one of the poorest, so they have a simple regional cuisine.

But the flavors are still bold!

Many recipes from this region largely use vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, red onions, and fava beans.

2. Monello

Address: 750 W Fir St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy Neighborhood)

Monello is a timeless Italian restaurant that serves Milanese dishes.

They also always have cheese wheel pasta available and you can check their Instagram for daily special recipes.

Monello also has a great happy hour, aka Italian Aperitivo.

When you order any cocktails or wine, you’ll get some complimentary bites.

They offer different ones every night from 3pm to 5pm Tuesdays through Fridays.

3. CUCINA urbana

Address: 505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Bankers Hill Neighborhood)

CUCINA is a small chain of Italian restaurants in Southern California.

Their cuisine is a mix of contemporary Italian flavors with local California ingredients.

So much of their menu is made from scratch like charcuterie, sausage, cheese, artisanal breads, and pastas.

Seasonal dishes are also a big part of their menu.

CUCINA urbana offers over 200 wine labels from around the world, specializing in Italian and Californian wines.

4. Buona Forchetta

Address: 3011 Beech St, San Diego, CA 92102 (South Park Neighborhood)

Buona Forchetta is a San Diego based family restaurant group.

This location is where it all started, but they have more in the San Diego area.

Their menu reflects homemade Italian dishes the chef grew up with.

Some other locations are just north of the airport, Coronado, Encinitas, San Marcos, plus a few other restaurant concepts.

Each location offers their own daily specials too.

5. Bencotto Italian Kitchen

Address: 750 W Fir St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy Neighborhood)

Bencotto is the brother restaurant to Monello.

They also offer cheese wheel pasta and you can check their Instagram daily for which recipe will be available.

Tuesdays through Fridays they offer a happy hour from 3 pm – 5 pm.

6. Davanti Enoteca

Address: 1655 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy Neighborhood)

The concept of Davanti Enoteca is that it is a “lively wine bar and restaurant with shareable contemporary twists on rustic Italian cuisine”.

There is a second location in Illinois and they are also part of a larger restaurant group with a variety of restaurants of various cuisines.

7. Mona Lisa Italian Foods

Address: 2061 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy Neighborhood)

Mona Lisa Italian Foods is a local restaurant and deli.

The restaurant side is family style with an old world ambiance.

Their dishes consist of traditional recipes that have been passed down from prior generations.

They use fresh, high quality ingredients, house made sauces, and offer Italian wines among other specialty drinks.

The deli side has been voted San Diego’s best deli!

They offer made-to-order sandwiches, meats and cheeses, house made sausage, fresh pastas and pizza dough, extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, canned tomatoes, anchovies, marinated olives, imported wines and spirits, and more.

8. RoVino Rotisserie + Wine

Address: 2034 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy Neighborhood)

RoVino has been voted best Italian restaurant, best wine bar, and best wine list in San Diego in previous years.

They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

RoVino also has happy hour daily, except for Saturdays from 5 pm – 6pm.

During happy hour, all flatbreads and appetizers are 20% off and all signature craft cocktails are 20% off.

Additionally, well drinks and Aperol Spritz are only $10 during happy hour.

9. Isola Pizza Bar

Address: 1526 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy Neighborhood)

Isola Pizza Bar’s first home was in Little Italy and has since added another location in La Jolla.

On Tuesdays they have a special deal of 2 pizzas for $20 at both locations, for pickup only, as dining in is closed on Tuesdays for now.

They offer a happy hour Monday through Friday from 2:30 pm – 5 pm, with discounted drinks and foods, plus $6 glasses of wine.

On Wine Wednesdays you can get 50% off select bottles of wine.

10. Parma Cucina Italiana

Address: 3850 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103 (Hillcrest Neighborhood)

Parma Cucina Italiana is known for serving fresh local seafood, traditional Italian dishes, and home cooked comfort foods.

The owners operated restaurants in Italy for over 3 decades before retiring in San Diego, where they decided to continue their passion for cooking.

11. Basic Bar/Pizza

Address: 410 10th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village Neighborhood)

Basic Bar/Pizza is in the perfect location just across from Petco Park and just outside the Gaslamp Quarter.

They serve award winning pizza in a really cool urban warehouse space.

The specialty pizza is a thin crust brick oven pizza.

Basic Bar/Pizza is open every day from 11:30 am – 12:00 am.

San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

12. Buon Appetito

Address: 1609 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy Neighborhood)

Buon Appetito came about when the owners of Trattoria i Trulli in Encinitas & Arrivederci Restaurant group of Hillcrest came together to open a restaurant in Little Italy.

The vibe here is warm and rustic, with award winning Italian dishes.

Check out their menu online to see what their most popular dishes are.

Visitors to the website are able to leave “likes” for the dishes they enjoyed the most.

For example, on their appetizer menu you can see their Arancini is BY FAR a fan favorite.

If you haven’t had Arancini before, it’s fried risotto balls and is so good!

13. Pizza Bella Italian Bistro

Address: 2707 Congress St, San Diego, CA 92110 (Old Town Neighborhood)

Old Town is more known for its Mexican restaurants, but this Italian hidden gem is one of their best kept secrets.

Pizza Bella has been here for over 50 years.

It has won awards in Florida, Vegas, and California and has even been voted best pizza in America before!

You can also check out their sister restaurant DiLeone’s Italian Restaurant.

Old Town Market Sign in Old Town San Diego

More Of The Best Restaurants In San Diego

Beyond the romantic and indulgent Italian dinners, there are plenty of other great reasons to enjoy dining experiences around San Diego and here are some of our favorites.

Best Birthday Restaurants in San Diego

As someone who has spent a couple birthdays in San Diego, I can tell you with certainty that it is a great city for birthday celebrations.

Best Restaurants in San Diego With A View

Another great set of restaurants in San Diego are those with the city skyline views and the bay views.

With perfect weather almost every day of the year, enjoying these scenic restaurants is a must.

Best Seafood Restaurants in San Diego

With San Diego’s unique location along the Pacific Ocean, there are plenty of great seafood restaurants that serve locally caught, fresh seafood.

Best Places To Stay In San Diego

Keep the good times going by checking out some of the most iconic hotels in and around San Diego.

If you want to be as centrally located as possible, Hilton San Diego Bayfront is for you!

If you’re more into a beach getaway or staying somewhere historic and iconic, then Hotel Del Coronado is definitely more your speed.

✔️ Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Hilton San Diego Bayfront is the most centrally located hotel you’ll find.

We’ve stayed here on several visits and it’s our favorite.

It’s just across the street from the Gaslamp Quarter, Petco Park, and the Convention Center.

Really any room will give you a great view whether it’s the San Diego Bay, the city skyline, or the ballpark.

You can see a full walk-through of our room here in this video on our YouTube Channel.

Click Here To Book Your San Diego Bayfront Stay Today!

✔️ Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado is iconic in San Diego!

If you don’t recognize the name, surely you’ll recognize the architecture.

At least once in your life you need to stay here!

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, this resort might remind you of the Grand Floridian, but I assure you they are different.

Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego

Click Here To Book Your Hotel Del Coronado Stay Today!

Fun Things To Do In San Diego

Why visit San Diego just for dinner?

There are a ton of other great experiences you can have in San Diego the whole rest of the day, weekend, or week long getaway!

☑️ San Diego Birthday Weekend Itinerary

This is a great itinerary for first time visitors to see a little bit of everything that San Diego has to offer, while also making sure to celebrate your special day.

☑️ San Diego Zoo and La Jolla Day Trip

If you have just one day in the area and you’ve never been, the San Diego Zoo is one of the most well known zoos in the world.

Then finish your day in La Jolla experiencing the wildlife in the real world.

San Diego Zoo entrance sign

☑️ The Best Things To Do In North Park

San Diego has a variety of neighborhoods, each with their own flair.

North Park is a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood that is home to a diverse mix of people, businesses, and attractions.

Whether you’re looking for a place to grab a bite to eat, catch a show, or simply relax and enjoy the atmosphere, North Park has something for everyone.

☑️ The Best Things To Do In Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is a vibrant, bohemian neighborhood in San Diego.

It’s known for its classic SoCal beach vibe, with surfers and sunbathers filling the namesake beach.

The Ocean Beach Pier is a popular local fishing spot with sweeping views.

Nearby, Newport Avenue is lines with antique shops, beachwear and surf boutiques, organic groceries, taquerias, and brewpubs.

The Ocean Beach Farmers Market features live music.

☑️ San Diego Urban Wineries Ultimate Guide

San Diego is a city with a thriving wine scene, and its urban wineries are a big part of that.

These wineries are located in the heart of the city, making them easy to access and explore.

They offer a variety of wines to taste, as well as educational tours and tastings.

Whether you’re a wine lover or just looking for a fun night out, San Diego’s urban wineries are a great option.

☑️ How To Have The Best Weekend in Oceanside

Oceanside is a city with something for everyone.

From its beautiful beaches and surfing waves to its vibrant downtown area and delicious food scene, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in this Southern California city.

Oceanside Harbor, California

☑️ Ramona Valley Weekend Getaway Itinerary

Ramona, California is a charming town located in the foothills of the Laguna Mountains.

It is known for its beautiful scenery, mild climate, and abundance of outdoor activities.

Today, Ramona is home to a variety of historical sites and up and coming wineries.

wines from Wolf n Rose Winery in Ramona, California

☑️ Visiting In The Fall?

Here are several Fall specific itineraries for visiting San Diego, including seasonal events and festivals that only happen this time of year!

julian california town hall

Explore More Of San Diego With GoCity!

A great way to see all that San Diego has to offer is with a GoCity Pass!

We’ve used them in several cities and it’s a great way to get discounted deals on many attractions around town.

GoCity attractions cards offer included admission to over 400 top attractions, activities, tours, and museums for one low price!

Save up to 50% compared to buying separate tickets at the attractions and receive a free full-color guide book with your purchase.

Choose from two options: Go City’s All-Inclusive Pass offers admission to top attractions and activities for one low price with a savings of up to 50%.

Build Your Own Pass allows you to customize a pass and save up to 20% on top attractions!

? Click Here To Get Your GoCity San Diego Pass Today!

Conclusion: Best Italian Restaurants In San Diego

As you can see, Little Italy does have some of the best Italian restaurants in San Diego, but by only looking there you are missing out on some other great Italian restaurants in other neighborhoods.