We live in an area where fabulous restaurant locations that include either amazing views or stellar people watching are commonplace. To find one that has views, people watching, and feels like you are in a sexy, big-city Italian restaurant just a few blocks from the beach is a dining score for sure.
That restaurant exists and it’s called Maurizio Trattoria in the heart of Encinitas on the corner of D Street and Coast Highway 101.
Maurizio has such a perfect location for a traditional Italian trattoria with its quaint sidewalk patio seating on an epic Encinitas corner, or inside with its simple elegance. The restaurant was created in 2020 by three Italian natives Maurizio Carbone, Fabio Montagna and Chef Antonio Pappagallo.
They tapped the culinary expertise of chef Antonio and the extensive hospitality experience of Fabio and Maurizio to combine new authentic Italian dishes with a modern ambiance and fun atmosphere with a passion only Italians can bring to such an endeavor. I should mention that the majority of the servers are all Italian as well.
I interviewed Fabio for the Lick the Plate radio show where he filled me in on his backstory growing up in Naples, Italy, along with Chef Antonio where their culinary sensibilities were shaped.
Fabio has been in the hospitality industry most of his career, with the last 10 years in San Diego until he scored this dream location. He is a passionate guy who has created a gem of a restaurant with a chef at the helm that ensures everything coming out of the kitchen is top-notch.
Speaking of the kitchen, we started our dining experience at Maurizio with a couple of glasses of Prosecco, the sparkling wine of choice (for me anyway) when in an Italian restaurant. It’s just such a sexy way to start the dining experience.
And speaking of sexy, the Carciofini alla Romana, or three oven-roasted artichokes sauteed with olive oil, white wine, garlic, olives and shaved Parmigiano cheese is one of the best artichoke preparations and presentations I’ve had. I should also mention that it goes great with the prosecco.
Anticipating pasta, we kept our starters on the lighter side and ordered the Caprese Tradizionale with meaty and juicy heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. The tomatoes and mozzarella made this dish and it’s a great way to start the meal.
I’ve not gone big with pasta in a long time at an Italian joint, but I had a light day of eating leading up to this feast so thought it was time to go all in. I went with the Orecchiette Salsiccia E Friarielli that translates to little ears pasta, olive oil, garlic, tomato with sausage, rapini, and a light cream sauce. It was rich, hearty, delicious and enough food for lunch the next day.
We also went with the ravioli of the day which was cheese-filled on a bed of sausage and the house-made pasta was very evident in this fabulous dish.
After my radio interview with Fabio, he sent me home with some of the best lasagnas I’ve ever had. I love lasagna cold almost as much as heated, so I had a few bites and counted the hours to devour it cold the next day at lunch.
Given that Fabio is from a seaside city in Italy, we also had to try their Cioppino that included mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, catch of the day in a white wine sauce with a touch of marinara sauce topped with grilled bread. Yeah, you need to give this one a try.
Most of the traditional Italian offerings are represented on the menu at Maurizio and you do have the option of choosing your pasta and sauce to create your own entrée. I was curious about the risotto they were serving with the steak special, and they were super cool about bringing me a side of it to sample which was amazing. There was hardly room for dessert, but we had to sample the Tiramisu and it was a fine way to end the dining experience.
As a big fan of the La Paloma Theater that is across the street from Maurizio, my suggestion would be to make it a dinner and a movie experience. Either catch an early flick and have a later dinner or an early dinner followed by a movie. I love to discuss a movie over a great meal, so I prefer the movie first. Movie or not, I’d suggest giving Maurizio a try for the food, ambiance, great location and stellar staff.
Find them at 505 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas or www.maurizioca.com 760.942.7332