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Simone Vezzali, co-owner of 2051 Cucina Italiana, holds a plate of Tortellini alla Crema Parmigiano, Tortelloni Burro e Salvia, Lasagna, and Tortelloni di Mara. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Simone Vezzali, co-owner of 2051 Cucina Italiana, holds plates of Tortellini alla Crema Parmigiano, Tortelloni Burro e Salvia, Lasagna and Tortelloni di Mara. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Columns Food & Wine Taste of Wine

A look at Carlsbad’s newest trattoria: 2051 Cucina Italiana

I love when our readers give us suggestions. Frank recently got a tip from his dentist’s office about a new Italian restaurant in south Carlsbad. As lovers of Italian cuisine, Taste of Wine was ready to visit the 2051 Cucina Italiana. 

Don’t let the restaurant’s location in a business park across from McClellan–Palomar Airport fool you — it’s some of the best Italian food and welcome addition to the city. 2051 creates authentic, homemade cuisine from the owners’ roots in the Province of Modena in northern Italy, famous for Ferrari cars and balsamic vinegar.

Under executive chef Musmeci Santo’s leadership, the kitchen crafts each entrée with passion and attention to detail. The homemade pasta is exceptional and is in line with their tagline: “Traditional Italian Cuisine Made with Love.”

Also making up the management team are co-owners Simone Vezzali and Giacomo Giovanetti. They first met at age five and grew up together. Additionally, Simone’s sister, Benedetta Vezzali, handles operations management.  

After coming to California from Madena, Italy, in 2007, Simone had the good fortune of meeting Roby Vigilucci, owner of Vigilucci Italian restaurants in North County (which also has excellent Italian cuisine). Simone worked at Vigilucci’s until venturing out with Giovanetti to boldly open 2051 amidst the ongoing pandemic with Roby’s encouragement.  

We were greeted at the host counter by Benedetta with Prosecco Millesimato, Bosco del Merlo, from Veneto, Italy. We started our over-the-top culinary experience with the Misto charcuterie board that was a meal itself. The board had Parma prosciutto, Gran Biscotto ham, mortadella, speck, and soppressata meats along with Parmigiano, pecorino, and caprino cheeses. 

Our waiter Chris and Simone also insisted on the Burrata Cheese plate with baked eggplant, tomato, basil, garlic, and balsamic infusion, as well as the Brodetto di Cozze & Vongole, a bowl of mussels and clams in fish broth with a touch of tomato served with country bread.

To accompany all these outstanding dishes, Chris suggested a bottle of the 2009 Musella Amarone from Veneto — the Amarone capital of the wine world. I love the making of Amarone with intentional drying of the fruit for several months before maceration to create an intense nose and flavor with sweet spice, cherry, plum and earth.

The wine was especially great with our tastings of the Tortellini Alla Crema di Parmigiano (tortellini with meat stuffing in cream of Parmigiano sauce), Tortelloni Burro e Salvia (large tortellini filled with ricotta and cream of spinach, in a butter and sage sauce), and traditional meat lasagna. All of these are with pasta made onsite.

Simone was also kind enough to have us try a new dish, Tortelloni di Mara. While not listed on the menu, the dish is available upon request. Tortelloni di Mara was potentially my favorite dish, although it was splitting hairs. The squid ink tortelloni stuffed with sea bass and potato with a touch of lemon and topped with clams was mesmerizing. As hard as this was to believe, Frank and I made room for dolce — homemade Tiramisu! 

Lighter-than-air mascarpone topped espresso-soaked chocolate lady fingers garnished with cocoa powder.

Whether a pastry with excellent cappuccino for breakfast, business or casual lunch, dinner with the fam (there are kid’s meals), a date, etc., Italian and California red and white wines, local craft beers, and events for up to 300 people.

I cannot recommend 2051 Cucina Italiana enough. The restaurant provides convenience, fair value pricing, and high-quality dishes for a memorable culinary experience. 2051 Cucina Italiana is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Please let them know that Frank and Rico sent you. Thank you, 2051 team! Info at 2051cucinaitaliana.com

West End’s Stags’ Leap and Ercolano Message

Frank and I had the good fortune of attending another Stags’ Leap Wine Dinner, this time at Sal Ercolano’s West End Bar & Kitchen in Del Mar. Despite the similar wines, the pairings were different. Also, with John Parker, account manager at Republic National Distributing Company, narrating the evening, guests are always treated to an in-depth review of the winery and wines.

Chef Noe had an all-star lineup starting with his “Chef Bites” of risotto-stuffed mushrooms, bacon-wrapped dates, and tuna tartare on a crispy wonton.

Flora owner Sal Ercolano, left, and executive chef Hilario. Photo courtesy of Flora Bar and Kitchen
Flora owner Sal Ercolano, left, and executive chef Hilario. Photo courtesy of Flora Bar and Kitchen

For the second course, Noe served bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp with an avocado mousse. The first two courses were served with sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.

Next up was short rib ravioli with a creamed porcini mushroom sauce. The 2018 merlot helped strip the tongue, ensuring each delicious bite was fresh. 

The main course was a New Zealand rack of lamb with garlic mashed potatoes topped with a rich demi-glace reduction paired with a 2018 cabernet sauvignon. Dinner concluded with a cheese plate array with acacia honey and toasted almonds. The 2018 petite sirah’s jammy flavor perfectly complemented the cheese plate. More details at stagsleap.com.

Ercolano shared the following with those on his email list, and I thought this column would be a great way to extend his message.  

“After years of success with his restaurant concepts…restaurateur Salvatore Ercolano is placing a twist on Flora Bar and Kitchen, featuring a coastal kitchen and bringing back some favs like fresh oysters, fresh mussels, shrimp ceviche, baked scallops and more!

“In addition, to tantalize your palate, spinach fettuccine with meat sauce, short ribs, steaks and chicken entrees are available. An extensive wine menu assures you the perfect varietal to accompany your meal. Also new, Happy Hour from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. is now open in the bar area seven days a week.”

Wine Bytes

Victor Magalhaes, owner of Vittorio’s Italian Trattoria in San Diego’s Highland Village, is hosting a five-course J. Lohr Vineyards Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 28. The main course features ribeye roast with garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach paired with J. Lohr Hill Top Cabernet Sauvignon. The cost is $75 per person plus tax/gratuity. RSVP at 858-538-5884.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. Frank and Rico are two of the leading commentators on the web. View their columns at tasteofwineandfood.com. Reach them at [email protected] 

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