San Diego’s Best Italian Restaurants: Mangia!

Looking for the best Italian in San Diego? Little Italy is the heart of San Diego’s Italian dining scene, and it’s definitely where you’ll find some of the best Italian restaurants in town.

But even beyond Little Italy’s borders, you’ll discover more of San Diego’s finest Italian eateries scattered throughout the city. In this article, we’ll take you on a culinary journey through San Diego and highlight the best Italian restaurants in San Diego that are a must-visit for any food lover.

Buona Forchetta

Craving some pizza? Look no further than Buona Forchetta. Buona Forchetta is known for its pizza in a jar, Nicola pizza, Sergio pizza, and Margherita pizza.

But they also offer mouth-watering pasta you can’t miss, like their Bolognese.

With multiple locations in the city, you can have your Italian fix even for breakfast. It’s a true staple and one of the best Italian restaurants in San Diego. Try them out, they have some of the best Italian in San Diego.

Menu: Buona Forchetta Menu

Top Review: “Where do I begin? You can often tell what the quality of the food is like by observing the atmosphere of the restaurant itself. When we arrived for our dinner reservation (you should consider making one), Buona Forchetta was the happening spot on Beech st. I ordered the gluten free Sofia and my wife had the regina margherita. Both were fantastic and I do not say that lightly. Don’t take my word for it, try this pizza for yourself!”DK

3001 Beech St San Diego, CA 92102, (619) 381-4844

Cucina Urbana

Cucina Urbana is the perfect blend of Italian cuisine and modern design, offering a contemporary dining experience. It’s the kind of place that shows you how cooking is an art.

That’s not all; their food uses high-quality ingredients sourced locally and coincides with each season’s produce.

We recommend their short rib pappardelle, giant meatball, Italian chopped salad, and Pepperoni and sausage pizza.

Cucina Urbana is one of the best Italian restaurants in San Diego, be sure to check them out!

Menu: Cucina Urbana Menu

Top Review: “This is our favorite date night spot in banker’s hill! Their food is fantastic every time and very consistent. I was lucky enough to have experienced their head chef come to our private Christmas party several years ago, and ever since then, I have been a huge fan of cucina Urbana’s food! Their mushroom pizza is one of the best in San Diego. Their zucchini squash blossoms are also a must get. We recently tried  their beef carpaccio, and it was epic. Melt-in-your mouth goodness with a explosion of flavors. Highly recommend making reservations as the place fills up quickly. You can find metered or free street parking around the restaurant. They also have a great happy hour with many options! Buon appetit!”Eunice H.

505 Laurel St San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 239-2222

Bencotto Italian Kitchen

Bencotto Italian Kitchen is a charming restaurant in the heart of San Diego’s Little Italy.

Their menu features aged imported cured meats and cheeses, freshly made pasta, and creamy soups.

Their popular dishes are the gnocchi, tagliatelle, pappardelle, and tiramisu.

But the absolute must-do in this Italian spot is getting the famous Cheesewheel pasta.

Menu: Bencotto Menu

Top Review: “I visited Benecotto when i was in town for a conference at the recommendation of a local I met there. Everything on the menu sounded so good and I couldnt decide, so I asked my server Jacob to help me pick. He did not lead me astray. I had the eggplant parmesan appetizer. Jacob recommended adding on an order of bread. The bread was much needed to swipe up all that delicious sauce! For the entree, Jacob should have led with the fact that the braised beef stuffed gnocchi with mushroom and truffle cream sauce tasted like heaven. I continue to have dreams about this amazing dish. Not too heavy or truffley. I was so full, but Jacob insisted on a small tiramisu (my fav dessert too) and it was perfect too. An unbelievable meal. If im ever back in San Diego, I will be back for sure.”Missy K.

750 W Fir St San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 450-4786

Buon Appetito

Buon Appetito has everything you need for the full Italian dining experience. From salads and appetizers to your wine and dessert, they’ve got great choices at each turn.

Linguine Boscomare at Buon Appetito in San Diego Californina
Linguine Boscomare
Photo: Nancy M.

They have a comfortable vibe, generous food portions, and great indoor and outdoor seating. It’s one of the best Italian restaurants in San Diego, not just Little Italy.

Fettuccine Alla Genovese at Buon Appetito in San Diego, California, best italian in san diego CA
Fettuccine Alla Genovese Photo: Anthony C.

Some order recommendations include the linguine allo scoglio, farfalle con pollo, burrata, or the caprese.

Menu: Buon Appetito Menu

Top Review: “Listen, if you want to go to Italian food HEAVEN come here! This place has such mouth savoring food that I literally dream about my dish sometimes. I got the pesto sauce dish with cherry tomatoes mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes and instead of the gnocchi I got linguini cause I was just in that type of mood. The sauce is silky smooth, fresh, and made to perfection with the perfect vegetables to compliment the sauce. My husband got Ossobuco di Maiale which he said was absolutely amazing and I’ve honestly never seen him enjoy his dish so much. The ambience was very comfortable and homey. They had heaters outside in case you wanted to just enjoy some fresh air even if it’s a little cold. Service was fantastic. Would 100% come again if we were in the area.”Alycia J.

1609 India St San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 238-9880


Cesarina Italian in San Diego California
Photo: Daniel G.

Cesarina is considered a must-visit restaurant in San Diego, and for a good reason. They check all the boxes of a great dining experience: Delicious food, friendly staff, and a fantastic ambiance and vibe.

They even have a tableside dessert service that’s not only entertaining, but their desserts are amazing.

Ocotpus with zucchini at Cesarina in San Diego CA
Octopus with Zucchini Photo: Shane C.

Cesarina’s top dishes, according to reviews, are Zucchini Blossoms, Pomodoro Fresco, Paccheri Vodka and Scampi, and Spaghetti Allo Scoglio.

Menu: Cesarina Menu

Top Review: “Quite possibly the best pasta I’ve ever had in my entire life. I am still craving it two days later. I made my own pasta with Mafalde pasta and arrabbiatissima sauce. We also got the tiramisu and that experience was wonderful. And they took a Polaroid picture of us we got to take home! Just a great experience overall I can’t wait to come I will drive 6 hours again.”

4161 Voltaire St Ste B San Diego, CA 92107, (619) 226-6222

San Diego is the perfect destination for a memorable dining experience, whether you’re a seasoned foodie or a casual diner. It’s not only the great food that makes people come back for more but the friendly staff that will make you feel at home.

It’s the ambiance that will transport you straight to Italy. All these things make these restaurants some of the best Italian restaurants in San Diego.

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