via lago trattoria by busalacchi / eastlake – chula vista, ca
I don’t do very much in Eastlake. It’s far away and usually if we’re in the area to get the kiddos, we go to Mandarin for cheap, delicious Chinese food. I was reluctant to go all the way to Eastlake for a meal, even if I had been invited, until I figured out that I’d be down there anyway. That’s how I found myself visiting Via Lago Trattoria with Jake and his youngest son, S., in tow for an evening of Italian food.
After being seated indoors (it was a bit cool out on the evening we visited), we were treated to some complimentary bread. Free bread always makes me a happy girl, especially when it’s a nice crusty bread like the one served here. It was slightly warm and I used this bread heavily a little later on…
Jake started with a martini. I *think* it’s a guava martini. In any case, it’s fun to see him have a pink (err, as he would say, “lightish red”) beverage.
[calamari & fagiolini / calamari, wax beans, marinara – $10.95]
They started us out by parading a few appetizers in front of us. I was sad that Jake daughter was not able to join us since she would loved everything they brought out to us. The boys though are not into seafood and I was left to my own devices with this fried calamari & bean dish. The calamari was a little cold by the time it got to me, but a bathing it in marinara sauce livened it back up. Little chewy, not the best calamari I’ve ever had but still decent. I enjoyed the fried wax beans that came along with it as long for a little crunch and to mix things up a little bit.
[misto antipasto per due / calarmi, caprese, marinated mushrooms, olives, shrimp, cheeses, prosciutto – $18.95]
They also brought out this crazy large antipasto platter. Dear god. Take a gander at the deliciousness on this plate! This could easily feed a small army with a little bit of everything here and there. The cheeses were delicious and I got to horde the shrimp and marinated mushrooms for myself. An excellent dish for sharing.
[mushroom souffle / mushrooms, garlic, parsley, parmesan cheese, with cream and marinara sauce – $10.95]
This is a dish for all you mushroom loves out there.
*cue slow song*
Ahem… So… yeah… This was my favorite thing of the whole night.
Made with three kinds of mushrooms, this mushroom souffle got me all excited, hot and bothered. It’s mushroom extreme so you’re on the fence about mushrooms… well, you should still give it a shot. It’s earthy, lush, creamy and delicious.
I made good use of that complimentary bread we got by slathering this mushroom mixture and sauce on it and happily devouring it and relishing it in my mouth. It was so rich, well seasoned, and bursting with mushroom goodness. They recently posted about how to make this mushroom souffle on their blog, and I plan on trying it out this week. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know the results, so wish me luck on that one.
[salsiccia pizza / italian sausage and mozzarella – $12.95]
S. ordered a pizza – he did not want to order off the “Bambini” menu (probably because there was no pizza listed there) and opted for this one simple one with just sausage and cheese. I didn’t have a bite, but it looks quite good.
[costine de manzo / beef short ribs, barolo reduction, pearl onions, potato puree and fried leeks – $24.95]
Jake, after some debate, decided to order the Costine de Manzo – or, in words we understand, the beef short ribs. The short ribs were super soft-as-a-lamb tender with a nice sweet sauce from the barolo reduction. The potato puree was perfectly smooth and creamy and the fried leeks provided a nice contrast with some crunch and texture.
[pollo parmigiano / pan fried chicken, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil gnocchi – $17.95]
For myself, I ordered the chicken parmesan, which I know sounds kind of boring. BUT… I ordered it mostly for the basil gnocchi that came with it.
Upon first glance I thought I didn’t get any gnocchi afterall since the pasta here looks like tortellini. But… I quickly discovered the “tortellini” had the gnocchi filling! I’ve never seen gnocchi stuffed into something else so I was surprised by the presentation. Having the gnocchi inside of pasta kind gives it an extra level of texture and flavor. It was flavorful and different and I ended up really liking the gnocchi.
The chicken I was not quite as impressed with. I was sad that the sauce was on top and covering the whole thing since it made the chicken lose that “crunch” that I love so much. I would have been happier if it was just sauce on the bottom instead of on both sides of the chicken. The chicken was also a little dry in a few spots and I found myself mostly just sticking to eating the gnocchi. I’d happily eat the gnocchi by itself!
We picked two things from their dessert tray for ending the meal, starting with this dessert sampler. It had mini versions of some of my favorite treats: a mini eclair, fruit tart, a chocolate covered strawberry and a mini cannoli. I was excited to try this to get a little sampling of everything, especially the cannoli since that was my favorite part of the meal at A Modo Mio in Hillcrest.
Sadly though… these desserts didn’t cut it that day. Luckily we had another dessert waiting for us because these little treats fell flat for us. The cannoli was soft and tasted stale – nothing like the crispy, thick crusted shell I had at A Modo Mio. The eclair suffered from the same “stale” taste and the tart was just “okay”. Of the bunch the chocolate covered strawberry was the best thing.
[lava cake with gelato]
The lava cake more than made up for the lackluster dessert platter and in retrospect we would have been happy with just this for dessert! It came with a side of gelato (vanilla with chocolate chunks) and the two together made for the perfect dessert happy ending.
Mmm… luscious, creamy, chocolate lava middle… come get into my belly!
This was rich, dense, and completely delicious. It was silky smooth and the completely melted insides melted my own little heart.
All in all we had a very lovely and very delicious dining experience at Busalacchi’s restaurant. It’s a delightfully sinful way to start a weekend and we enjoyed it all very much!
Via Lago Trattoria by Busalacchi
866 Eastlake Parkway
Chula Vista, CA 91914
Disclaimer: Our meal was complimentary. I was not paid for this review and all opinions expressed here are forever and always my own, summarized from my inner monologue.