web site by motion minded motionminded firenze realizzazione siti web web agency firenze They combined fifty years of culinary experience to design an elegant and upscale interior and to develop an authentic Tuscan menu.Opera Caffe has, since its origin, been identified as the finest authentic Italian restaurant in the Gaslamp District of San Diego. Opera Caffe has, since its origin, been identified as the finest authentic Italian restaurant in the Gaslamp District of San Diego. Surrounded by both Horton Plaza and the San Diego Convention Center, the restaurant proved to be an instant success and quickly distinguished itself for its unique Northern Italian cuisine and innovative décor, making one's dining experience a memorable one. Opera caffe has become a favorite of San Diego's locals and tourists to the downtown area who enjoy fine food and excellent service. Since it's inception, the cuisine has evolved to its present high standard of quality, consistency and innovation. Our menu is based on authentic Tuscan tradition updated by the unique culinary design of our chef, Mr. Bernardoni. European service by a knowledgeable staff, historic location, beautiful décor and great food make dining at Opera Caffe a "gastronomic experience."We are the very proud recipients of the "Best of the Best Five Star Diamond Award" which puts us, in our category, as one of the top ten restaurants in the entire United States.Best Tuscan restaurant outside of Florence. Located in Gaslamp Quarter.
Walking into Opera Caffe, it is evident why the restaurant is one of the most popular in the Gaslamp. The ambiance is comforting, the atmosphere lively, and the energy—like that of the adjacent intersection of 5th Avenue and G Street—bustling with excitement. The restaurant’s prime location, within walking distance from the Convention Center, hotels, and Horton Plaza, makes it an ideal place to see and be seen, and it is no surprise that two of the restaurants tall walls are entirely glass, providing one of the best views of any restaurant on 5th Avenue.
A first choice for everything from casually elegant dinners to corporate and private parties, Opera Caffe has played host to many of the city’s most prestigious events. While this is partly due to the restaurant’s ideal atmosphere, including a private bar area, a semi private dining section, and amenities such as a full bar with talented bartenders and state of the art audio-visual equipment; part of this undoubtedly stems from the genuine passion and excitement of Executive Chef Roberto Bernardoni, and his long career of opening successful restaurants where he not only served as chef but as gracious host as well. While the atmosphere is one of the most inviting around, it is the food and the service that makes Opera Caffe a favorite among San Diegans and visitors alike.
At Opera Caffe, Bernardoni finds himself focusing on bringing the traditions and treasures of his native Tuscany to San Diego. At his first two restaurants, both in the heart of Florence, high quality Tuscan ingredients were the norm; throughout his 15 years at Opera Caffe Bernardino has personally ensured that the same quality ingredients, although not as readily available, are used in his kitchen. His attention to detail, ordering many specialty products from Italy, and firmly sticking with authentic techniques, have earned Opera Caffe the prestigious “Insegna del Ristorante Italiano,” an award bestowed by Italy’s president on those individuals who, presenting authentic Italian culture abroad, are deemed “ambassadors” of Italy’s culture and cuisine.
Seated at our table, amid the glass windows, exposed brick walls and deep walnut panes, I first noticed the lengths to which Bernardoni goes to share the best of his native country. Bottles of Valli Trapanesi extra-virgin olive oil and oak-aged San Giuilano Alghero Balsamic Vinegar sat on our table, which we eagerly sampled with the warm rolls that our server, John, quickly brought to us. The complexity of the olive oil was a delightful treat, as was the balance of the aged vinegar. We immediately knew we were in for an evening of the highest quality.
After fawning over the wine list, which offers one of the best selections of Italian wines I have seen, I ordered a glass of Tormaresca Chardonnay from Puglia. Connoisseurs will delight in Opera Caffè’s vast collection if Italian wines, especially the exclusive selection from the owner’s personal cellar, which includes several vintages of the revered Tignanello and Solaia Antinori wines. For those less inclined to indulgence, the wine list contains an equally extensive and approachable selection of reasonably priced Italian and American wines, both by the glass and bottle.
Turning out attention to the dinner menu, which seemed almost as extensive as the wine list, I must admit I felt slightly overwhelmed. In addition to the selection of Antipasti, Insalate, Primi, and Secondi courses, a generous selection of daily specials prepared by Bernardino’s wife, Patricia, all looked tempting. Thankfully, our server was well versed in the intricacies of each dish, so much so that his eyes displayed vicarious delight as he described them. His list of recommendations was long as well as varied, demonstrating Bernardoni’s range of talent. John excitedly recommended the Pollo Toscano, a unique stuffed chicken breast, the Filetto Ciao San Diego, a filet mignon wrapped in prosciutto, the Penne Pirata, a pasta dish with shrimp and clams, as well as the Ossobuco Di Vitello, which we would ultimately order.
We started with the Carpaccio Al Gorgonzola E Rucola, a plate of delicately sliced raw filet mignon circling a bed of arugula, capers and a creamy gorgonzola sauce, alongside crumbly slivers of Parmigianno Reggiano. The carpaccio slices had the consistency of silk, threatening to slip off our forks as we lifted them from the plate. The slices were fresh and exquisite, although the dish’s excellence was truly revealed with a bite that combined the delicate meat with the creamy gorgonzola sauce and salty capers. While alone each component of this trio was excellent, together the bite seemed to take on certain synergy, approaching the sublime.
This sensation would continue throughout our meal, as Bernardoni’s creations would demonstrate brilliance in strategically intertwining distinct flavors and textures to reach heightened sensations of taste. This was certainly true with the Polenta alla Valdostana, an appetizer of polenta topped with ham and fontina cheese, which was then broiled and topped with a richly complex gorgonzola mushroom sauce. Somehow the creamy, airy polenta seemed to mirror in texture the fontina’s creamy taste. Each bite was an explosion of flavor that gave way to a melting sensation as the flavors dissipated and the polenta dissolved on our tongues. I couldn’t help but feel that this unique dish—creatively intertwining gorgonzola, mushrooms, polenta and fontina—screamed the essence of Northern Italy.
John brought us a glass of Ruffino Pinot Grigio, which he thought would pair excellently with the Pomodoro E Mozzarella salad we had ordered. The crisp pinot grigio seemed refreshing after such decadent appetizers, while the salad served a light intermezzo before our entrees. Fresh mozzarella cubes sat atop thick slices of roma tomatoes, topped with pesto sauce that was clearly made with only the highest quality olive oil. We savored the clean bites, contemplating the genius of the classic pairing of this trio of ingredients.
As my date took a sip of the Chianti Classico Peppoli that we had ordered to accompany our entrées, I took a moment to contemplate our surroundings. The rich leather studded chairs and white clothed tables were mostly full around us, and a lively chatter filled the air. Pianist Chris Reynolds, who we later learned has a Top-10 Billboard hit, sat at the grant piano near the entrance, alternating between classical songs and elegant interpretations of Beatles tunes. Outside, a constant stream of foot traffic filled the brick sidewalks, while cars and the occasional pedicab slowly rolled by. For a moment, I imagined myself in the heart of Florence, seated at an elegant outdoor table at a small Trattoria. The experience, I realized, would be quite similar.
My wandering mind was brought back to San Diego when a generous dish of Fusilli ai Carciofi e Gamberi was set before us. The dish—tight spiraled pasta with artichokes and shrimp in a white wine, herb and tomato sauce—was cooked to perfection. The al dente spirals were firm to the bite, giving way to a rush of flavor from the sauce caught between the spirals. I realized I had never before tasted pasta cooked this perfectly.
Osso buco, the traditional slow-cooked veal shank served atop saffron risotto with a tomato sauce, is truly an Italian masterpiece and Bernardoni’s Ossobuco Di Vitello is no exception. Slow cooked over the course of a day, the tender and generous portion of meat was practically falling off the bone when it arrived on our table. The soft meat dissolved upon hitting the tongue, imparting a savory sensation throughout the mouth.
The risotto, a traditional accompaniment to Ossobuco, was again perfectly al dente. The rice was firm to the bite, providing a fitting contrast to the soft veal. Again, Bernardino’s talent arose in intertwining distinct textures, and each bite that combined the firm risotto, the thick tomato sauce, and the tender veal was absolutely sublime.
Feeling at ease in the warm and by now bustling dining room and tempted by the lavish desserts of Italy, we decided to indulge in a flavorful end to our meal. We opted for two traditional Italian desserts, the Vulcano, a chocolate cake-like pastry filled with liquid hazelnut chocolate accompanied by vanilla gelato, and a Cannoli, a crispy pastry shell filled with sweet ricotta cheese. The Vulcano was a decadent treat, the warm filling melding with the cold gelato on the plate in awakening contrast, but I favored the authentic cannoli, a perfect conclusion to a truly impressive meal.
As we walked out on to the busy 5th Avenue, content and full, I knew Opera Caffe was a place I would delightfully return to. For being so far from his native home, Chef Bernardoni provides an excellent rendition of true cocina Tuscana, bringing the authenticity of a Florentine restaurant to the lucky streets of San Diego.
Opera Caffe’s prime location at the crossing of Fifth Avenue and G Street makes it a place to see and be seen, with patio dining and walls of windows facing the hippest corner in the Gaslamp. A warm interior suggestive of an Italian villa extends to an open kitchen where Master Chef Roberto Bernardoni prepares the Tuscan specialties that put Opera Caffèin the top ten of Italian restaurants in the U.S. Add to that an excellent selection of Italian wines, moderate prices, and an enthusiastic staff, and it’s easy to see why Opera Caffe is booked daily.
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