dining out
Dining, Drinks & Desserts
Little Italy’s “5 Star Restaurant”
Published Thursday, 23-Sep-2010 in issue 1187
Hello everyone and thanks for checking back in this week. Before beginning I would like to ask for your friendship on Facebook. In the search box type in Frank Lechner and my mug will pop up. I have created an album and will be adding photos of places we visit.
Thanks again for your continued support.
This week my guest was John Woodgate, a long time friend and wonderful man. Our destination BENCOTTO – Italian Kitchen in Little Italy, created by owners Guido Nistri and his lovely bride Valentina Di Pietro. I think this is about as Italian as it gets.
Website Quotes: The word BENCOTTO, means and refers to a meal “done well” or perfectly cooked. Our core belief is that high quality food can be simple and supremely delicious. Combining different experiences from the restaurant business in Milan, Modena, San Diego and New York, BENCOTTO offers a unique take on Italian Cuisine. The traditional menu is untraditionally “designed-to-share” so that guests can casually pick and choose dishes while enjoying either an “aperitivo” or a full course meal.
When we arrived on Friday evening the place was alive with the sound of happy guests enjoying a great night out. Upon entering we were greeted by Valentina with a warm hug and a queen’s air kiss. Our server was JULIANO! Do you remember this fine stud formally of La Vache Restaurant in Hillcrest? His bright eyes, beautiful smile and strong handshake made me melt on the spot.
Guido & Valentina came over and insisted we try several items on the menu, Oh boy! Here we go. From the BOCCONI plates, our first taste of Italian Heaven was ERBAZZONE, a quiche filled with spinach, garlic and parmesan cheese sauce. At first bite I knew we were truly in for the dining experience of the year. Next up FIORI DI ZUCCA, lightly fried zucchini blossoms, filled with smoked mozzarella and parmesan sauce. John mentioned he had never tasted such wonderful Italian food in his life!
This was followed by the MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA, eggplant, mozzarella, parmesan and tomato sauce with basil. I was slowly drifting into food oblivion.
Moving onto the LEGGEREZZA salads, we selected the INSALATA CON SALMONE GRIGLIATO, fresh spinach, grilled salmon, olives, toasted pinenuts, potatoes and lemon garlic dressing. Are you getting hungry just reading this? If you’re not you must be half dead! This salad alone is a meal in itself and I should have stopped there but I didn’t.
For our main course, I ordered the TAGLIATA ALLA SENAPE CON RUCOLA AND POMODORINI, sliced grilled beef steak marinated in mustard, cooked rare and served with arugula and sundried tomatoes. Never in my life have I tasted such wonderful flavors and blends of foods. John ordered CIOPPINO BENCOTTO, a seafood soup with cod, salmon, calamari and shrimp in a light spicy sauce with garlic bread croutons.
Valentina came over to the table and insisted we try the pasta which is made fresh daily in house. Our guts busting, but not wanting to disappoint, we agreed to try the GNOCCHI PRPENI DI GORGONZOLA. I must be a glutton for punishment as Gorgonzola is not one of my favorite foods. However to my surprise this pasta dish was out of this world.
Now to top off the evening we ordered dessert! IL DOLCE SWEET TOOTH and our selections were SEMIFREDDO ALLE MANIDORLE E AMARETTI, half frozen mousse with almonds, amaretto cookies and chocolate sauce. PLUS the SEMIFREDDO AL PISTACCHIO, pistachios half frozen mousse, hazel nuts and sour black cherry sauce. WHAT A DESSERT! We felt as if we had left the country and literally traveled to Italy! I hope you will treat yourself and boyfriend, girlfriend, family and friends to a wonderful meal at this fine Italian Restaurant. I give this place FIVE GLITTERING GOLD STARS!
BENCOTTO ITALIAN KITCHEN is located at 750 W. Fir Street, San Diego, CA 92101 in the Heart of Little Italy. Phone 619.450.4786 or visit them on the web @
Until Next Week,
Papa Frank

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