At the north end of San Diego’s downtown district is Little Italy, a neighborhood that is an eclectic mix of modern and old world. Old men in slacks and sweaters sip espressos as the business hipsters walk downtown to work or come out from their live/work lofts for a bite to eat. A full palette of Italian cuisine is complemented by traditional and modern Italian music and arts, a tribute to San Diego’s rich Italian American heritage. High rise buildings and old stucco houses are all boldly painted in renaissance colors, completely appropriate for a neighborhood that has come to life over the last decade of downtown San Diego’s restoration.
Little Italy is home to my family’s favorite place for deep dish pizza, Fillipi’s Pizza. It’s not uncommon to see a line of people flowing out the door, waiting to get a table. The line goes through the front of the house, an old Italian style deli where foodies can find cheeses, olive oils, wines, cookies and more imports from Italy. The hostess will walk you back past the open kitchen and walls lined with hundreds of empty chianti bottles with messages from previous patrons written in Sharpie. Once you’re seated at the red-checked tables, you’ll have to decide between all the delicious deep dish pies.
Strolling the shops, it’s clear that this is a neighborhood where new and old world mix well together. Disegno Italiano sells contemporary furnishings with a modern Italian flair and is a great place to find interesting pieces for your home, office, or loft. Che Bella Nido offers modern yet soulful items for the home. And six times a year, Little Italy’s Art & Design district hosts Kettner Nights, an open house showcasing the area’s artistic side.
There’s always something going on in Little Italy: The Little Italy Mercato (Farmers’ Market), Carnevale, Mission Federal ArtWalk, the Annual State of the Neighborhood Dinner Reception, the Bulls of St. Agata Charge Little Italy (Lamborghini Show), Trick-or-Treat on India Street, two Taste of Little Italys, Little Italy’s Festa in October, and the upcoming Holiday Tree Lighting.
Next time you come to San Diego, make sure to spend some time in Little Italy.