Update: This location is now closed and replaced by the Fig Tree Cafe.
La Foccacia is a relatively new Italian restaurant in the heart of Hillcrest. It’s been open for about six months and boasts a menu of gourmet pizzas, organic foods, and freshly made pasta dishes. I was recently invited for a complimentary meal at the restaurant by the owner’s wife to sample a few of their offerings.
Normally I would probably have not visited La Foccacia simply because I find it too difficult to try and park in and around Hillcrest. I have a great aversion to places that have difficult parking, another reason why I don’t go Downtown too often. I wish I had a little scooter or something for easy-peasy parking, but then I would be dining alone… hmm.
In any case, onto the food!
Alberto, the chef and owner of La Foccacia, was a very gracious host. We let Jake’s kids order what they wanted to eat off of the menu and had the chef bring us what he wanted us to try from his menu. Above is a selection of three appetizers. From the top left (clockwise) – Stromboli, Caprese, and Bruschetta.
The caprese was the first thing I tried. It had some sweet onions on it in addition to the traditional tomato-basil-mozzarella. There was also a drizzle of some really flavorful olive oil over the whole thing. The flavors were really crisp, bright, and fresh, making this is a nice and super tasty morsel of food. I didn’t care too much for the stromboli, but I think that’s just because I wasn’t a fan of the meats used inside of it. I like the crispy crust, I just didn’t care for the innards. The bruschetta though was my absolute most favorite thing of the dinner. It was served on some nice, thick crusty foccacia bread with a really wonderful tomato-onion-basil-tasty-goodness mixture on top. It really tasted like it was bursting with flavor and I was kind of surprised just how good it was. Jake “I-don’t-eat-tomatoes” even really liked it and kept eating it. I ended up eating bits of the bread with the olive oil from the caprese. It was so good.
This is what Jake’s daughter ordered: the Lasagna. She finished this fairly quickly and kept talking about how good it was.
Jake’s son ordered this – the Baked Ziti. We got it without eggplant for him and substituted sausage in place of the eggplant. His son usually has this strange aversion to “red sauce” on his pasta. There have been many moments where I made pasta and he wouldn’t eat it because of the dreaded “red sauce”. Either this was light enough or so delicious to not matter, but he ate every bite of this, even though he was disappointed because he thought he had ordered a sandwich.
For our “second course”, Jake and I were each treated to a Cannelloni. The cannelloni here are made with fresh pasta, roasted free-range chicken and a pomodoro sauce. I joked that it sort of looked like an enchilada instead of a pasta dish. The fresh pasta sheet clearly makes a difference, resulting in a really fresh dish. This thing was loaded with chicken – I actually kind of wished for less chicken and more cheese. The chicken itself was quite tender and added a rich, meaty component to this dish. More cheese, that’s all I have to say.
Last but not least we tried two of the restaurant’s most popular pizza slices. The Porchetta which has boneless pork, thinly sliced, steamed and sliced potato, mozzarella cheese and fresh thyme. We also sampled the Spinach Ricotta which comes with mozzarella, fresh spinach, ricotta cheese and fresh garlic.
I really liked the sliced potato on the porchetta pizza. I’ve only been to one other place that puts potato slices on some of their pizzas and that was at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza. I don’t know if they still have one on the menu since it’s been a long time since I’ve been, but I was always impressed with potato on pizza. Alberto, the chef, told us that it’s quite commonplace in Italy to have potato on pizza, something we were surprised to hear. The spinach ricotta won my heart of the two though because I absolutely love ricotta on pizza. I think it’s a match made in heaven – creamy and sweet, it holds up well to the pizza dough and hot temperatures. It doesn’t run all over the place but stays in tact until you sink your teeth in. La Foccacia also has a pretty nice crust on their pizzas – not super thin, crusty with a bit of crunch.
La Foccacia is a bit different from other pizzeria’s with their sit-down vibe and table service from a waitress. It takes pizza and Italian food to the next level with their commitment to organic ingredients and serving high quality food at a reasonable price.
Many thanks to Michelle and Alberto for inviting us into the restaurant to sample what La Foccacia has to offer!
La Foccacia Gourmet Pizza and Organic Salads
416 University Avenue
San Diego, California 92103