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A Hidden La Jolla Gem

Hello friends! For today, I wanted to introduce you to a hidden Italian restaurant in San Diego. I wager that they’re one of the best (and I'll fight you!). I’ve tried a lot of Italian joints around SD, and to be quite honest, I haven’t been impressed with half of them. So I wasn’t expecting too much when I visited Semola- but I was in for quite a treat. Now keep in mind, it’s a bit on the more pricey side- a meal for two can easily be $75-$200 if you want starters and entrees. But I promise you it’s worth it.

Semola is a contemporary Italian restaurant by the same owners that run Ambrogio 15 (which is famous for their pizzas). Tucked away in La Jolla, this restaurant mostly consists of a cutesy outdoor patio (there are barely any seats inside so keep weather in mind!) Get some glasses of wine and check out the menu, which consists of very unique starters (salads and carpaccios), risottos, pastas, main plates and desserts. I would HIGHLY recommend the Wagyu Carpaccio, consisting of Caesar Cured Yolk / Salsa al Tuorlo / Lemon Pepper Caviar / Pickled Mustard Seed / Shaved Parmesan / Radish Blossoms. The salt in combination with the yolk and meat is heavenly. One of the best carpaccios I’ve had in a long time. Also be sure to check out the seared tuna with Escabeche / Beet and Ginger Fluid Gel. It may sound strange, but I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a beet puree as delectable as this one. You know the chefs are skilled when the veggies are artfully done! The tuna and the beet is the perfect bite that just melts in your mouth.

For the mains, my two recommendations are the Amatriciana pasta and the Cielo duck. The Amatriciana (Bigoli / Cherry Tomato / Guanciale / Seared Spring Onion / Basil / Parsley / Mint / Pecorino / Parmesan) is one of the best pastas I’ve had since I visited Italy! The tomato sauce they use is absolutely divine. By far the best pasta I’ve had in San Diego- I literally almost ordered another one halfway through (barely held myself back!) The tomato sauce is robust, fresh, and leaves you yearning for more.

The Cielo (Duck / Parsnip Puree / Nebbiolo & Amarena Demi / Confit Tomatoes on the Vine / Black Garlic Emulsion) is incredibly unique- they sous vide it, which is a very atypical way to prepare duck. It enhances the flavor of the meat, while staying a beautiful soft medium on the inside with a crispy skin on the outside. And of course it is served with a beautiful sauce to compliment it. We did happen to try one of their risottos (Fugazetta) and unfortunately neither of us thought it was anything special. So maybe skip the risottos!

Now you might be the type to skip out on dessert because you get too full by the end- do NOT do that here. Head chef Daniela Martinez, doubling as the pastry chef, has multiple awards under her belt! She has won Chopped Sweets, a dessert showdown on food network. She knows her stuff! If you want something lighter, get the chef’s assorted sweets- it’s six handmade mini pastries served in an adorable box. Ours included chocolate truffles, a pistachio cream mini pie, and a madeleine.

If you are a matcha lover like me, you MUST get the Profumo di Primavera (Matcha Mousse / Dark Cocoa Crumb / Milk and Honey Bark / Spring Elixir) which is a stunning matcha chocolate dessert. I devoured this. It has a decent amount of matcha so it isn’t for the faint of heart!

I hope I’ve successfully convinced you to try out Semola pasta! Leave a comment below if you’ve tried it or if you plan to, and if you also think it’s one of the best! It’s the perfect date night restaurant.

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