monello / little italy – san diego, ca
Last month my old friend, Sarah, was in town for a short visit. Sarah is one of my oldest friends, who I’ve known since the ripe old age of 10. She was staying overnight in Little Italy and so I chose a spot nearby, a place I’ve been wanting to try forever: Monello! This was originally supposed to be our last stop on the Cheese Crawl, but we were all too full to go to another restaurant.
Jake was a little grumpy with me that I had picked a spot in Little Italy for dinner, since Little Italy is such a pain in the ass for parking. It was a Sunday evening and we managed to find parking about three blocks away on the north side of Little Italy, were it’s a little less developed.
Sarah was already there snacking on the complimentary lupini beans. They had a bit of seasoning and spice on the outside. You’re supposed to pop these out of the shells before eating them, reminding me a bit of edamame. I thought these were just okay.
[panzerotti / lightly fried mini calzones – $8]
These little fried calzones had caught my eye from looking at the menu and I just had to have them. The skin almost looks crispy like a wonton wrapper, gettin’ all bubbly.
Here’s the melted, gooey inside. It sort of looks like a creamy tomato sauce in there with a bit of herbs. The outside was puffy and a bit chewy. There was a very slight crisp edge to the outside though it wasn’t particularly crunchy. The crust stayed chewy, sort of the way a pizza is. I liked these, they were yummy though I wished they had more cheese inside of them.
[formaggi pizza / mozzarella parmigiano, fontina and gorgonzola – $16]
T ordered a pizza for his meal. I had a little bit and the blend of cheese was very good.
The crust was very nice, you can see a few browned spots on the underside. The middle was a little too soft, but the outer edges of the crust was quite nice.
[piadine porchetta (rolled bites) / herb roasted pork, fontina, arugula – $13]
Sarah ordered this porchetta rolled bite as her meal, but she was nice enough to share a little bit with us. The porchetta was super flavoful. I don’t remember what the “rolled” wrapping is, it sort of looks like a tortilla but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it, haha. I think it was some kind of flatbread. The touch of herbs made this taste very bright and fresh. I’m generally not a fan of arugula but there was a minimal amount here so it didn’t annoy me.
[carbonara / bacon, pecorino, eggs, black pepper – $16]
I can’t decide if Jake’s dish or mine was my favorite of the evening. I know Jake liked his carbonara the best, and I have to admit that it was pretty damn delicious. All of the pasta is made in house here, and you can really tell the difference. It has a particular bite to it that sets it apart and elevates it. The mixture of the crispy, yummy bacon was really nice here and the carbonara “sauce” brought it all together.
[cacio e pepe / extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, pecorino, parmigiano – $14]
Myself, I decided to try the cheese pasta. This is very cheesy and kind of on the dry side since there isn’t really a sauce. But if you’re a fan of cheese, like I am, then you’ll definitely be into this dish. I did kind of wish for a little something to make it a little less dry, but I still really liked it. They also make maccheroni (which is like macaroni) and gnocchi. I almost got the gnocchi, but I had recently been disappointed by some gnocchi and didn’t want to risk it again. But I’d love to come back and try it now that I know the other things here are totally delicious!
After this feast and having an appetizer, I couldn’t justify getting a dessert. Though you know I wanted to. It just means we’ll have to come back to try dessert and I’ll have to get my paws on that gnocchi…
750 W Fir St.
San Diego, CA 92101