Once home to generations of Italian families who used to make a living a living through the thriving tuna fishing industry of San Diego, Little Italy is now a quaint but upbeat neighborhood, filled with charming cafés and restaurants, one-of-a-kind boutiques and a wonderful sense of history and heritage. Situated in Downtown San Diego, a visit to Little Italy promises to fill each of your senses with the beauty and spirit of Europe, bringing you as close to Italy as you can possibly get whilst in the middle of San Diego.
Restaurants and Markets
One of Little Italy’s main attractions is the promise of deliciously authentic Italian food, and it definitely does not disappoint. Saturday mornings are when the district is at its liveliest, and this is due to Little Italy Mercato, the weekly farmers market. Many of the restaurants found throughout Little Italy have been serving up dishes for decades, such as the Mona Lisa Restaurant that opened in 1956, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, which was established in 1950, and Assenti’s Pasta, which opened their doors in 1981. There are a number of other fantastic Italian cafés and bakeries to be found, as well as several traditional delis where you can purchase some authentic ingredients to take home with you, to cook up your very own Italian feast.
The Kettner Art and Design District is one of the best places to shop in Little Italy, as it is a small group of retail stores and art galleries that focus on the finest of European art and design. India Street Antiques is where you will find collectible European home furnishing pieces, while Blick Art Materials sells everything that a creative person could want. For fashion, accessories and jewelry, head on over to Rosa Mariposa and the Melero Boutique and Gallery. The Fir Street Shops are also worth a visit, consisting of vibrantly colored cottages that are home to some unique boutiques, selling everything from designer scarves to kitchen accessories.
For those who want to take in some art while in Little Italy, there are a few galleries that are worth stopping by at. Scott White Contemporary Art specializes in emerging artists, while Perry L. Meyer Fine Art has a fantastic collection of pieces from the 18th century, as well as some noteworthy contemporary artwork. Amici Park is also always enjoyable to stroll through, and, if you are visiting during the summer months, you are likely to come across the Little Italy Summer Film Festival being held here. The Firehouse Museum, which used to be a fire station that served Little Italy from 1915 until 1962, is always interesting, with a fascinating collection of firefighting memorabilia that dates back to over a century ago.
California has a number of different cultural and ethnic enclaves, and a visit to Little Italy is a great way to experience a true taste of authentic Italian life. From the European boutiques and markets to the freshly cooked Italian dishes, spending some time in San Diego’s Little Italy is always a delight to the senses.