Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vigilucci's Cucina Italiana - Carlsbad

I drive down to San Diego more than I drive up to L.A., namely for the Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. And I've eaten at just as many restaurants there as in the City of Angels. Yet I think I've only written about less than a handful of them. I'm even less chatty about Italian restaurants.

So here's to killing two birds with one stone: A San Diego County Italian restaurant.

Vigilucci's is part of a local chain, which grew out of the success of a single restaurant about decade ago. There are now seven other Vigilucci spin offs in the county, each one different than the next.

So why did I choose this one? Well, that's simple. I had a restaurant gift card and this was the closest to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets off of Palomar Airport Rd., which is the other reason I visit San Diego County if I'm not there to watch captive animals.

But in finding the place in downtown Carlsbad, I discovered that this beach-side burg has more than the outlet mall. Steps from the restaurant, there was a store actually called "Guy Stuff" that sold mostly antique weapons like swords and muskets. A few doors down, there was an all Irish store that sold mostly, well, Irish stuff.

Back to the restaurant. The place was nearly deserted save for a few people dining outside sipping ice teas with lemon and mimosas in fluted glasses. And halfway through our meal, a couple sat down, got served water and a few minutes later, they left without ordering. Weird, because the food was excellent.

Another quirk? Our waiter had a charming habit of ending each sentence with the word "beautiful", which he pronounced ""byoo-di-fool". It was his own brand of punctuation.

"We'll have the calamari to start."

"Ah, beautiful!"

"May we have some more water please?"

"Of course! There you go! Beautiful!"

Upon seeing our pasta plate was practically licked clean, "Ah you enjoyed! Beautiful!"

And we did enjoy the food. The warm sliced loaf that starts the meal had a crusty but tender exterior with a fluffy moist crumb almost as white as Wonder Bread. The fried calamari was, well, fried calamari ($11.50). It was a touch greasy, but included were fried rock shrimp covered in the same batter as its platemates, some of them caught up like prey in the cephalopod's tentacles' death grip.

We requested to add sausage ($2.75) to our capellini alla checca ($10.50) and it came from an actual tube of meat, cut up into healthy sections with the natural casing attached, and browned on the skillet before it was introduced to the pasta. The noodles were exceptionally silken and slurp-able, every strand glazed by the juices from the chunks of fresh tomato, flecked by basil, and amped up by cloves of garlic sauce you can actually see.

But what of the manicotti ($11.00) you spy in the picture? I've no idea...yet. After sharing and destroying the capellini, we were stuffed and had to leave the manicotti untouched. It waits in the fridge as tonight's dinner.

Not having to cook? Beautiful!

Vigilucci's Restaurants
(760) 434-2500
2943 State Street
Carlsbad, CA 92008-2337

OltreMare - San Clemente


At 12:07 PM, Blogger imjustatree said...

first! haha =p

please do more sd posts! brings me back to the good ol days of my undergrad there not too long ago

At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Marvin said...

The wife and I used to frequent Carlsbad once upon a time. And there's this small little italian restaurant there (I have no idea the name, or what street it's on, but we always remember how to get there), and we always pick up a pizza to go from this little place. Decent pizza for cheap.

We also love to go to Pizza Port, for the beer more than the eats.

Next time we're in Carlsbad, I definitely have to check out this "Guy Stuff" store. You had me at swords.

At 4:25 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

This post was beautiful! :)

Rock shrimp and calamari seem to be a combo at Italian restaurants. Those plates remind me of Macaroni Grill!

At 4:45 AM, Blogger Juliet said...

You made me long for the days when I could eat wheat. Oh well. After the baby.

Manicotti is my favorite Italian dish. Please do tell me how you liked it!

At 5:05 AM, Blogger Bill said...

That was bootyfull ;-)
I'm never a big fan of Italian restaurant but I do like the big family atmosphere some of them inspire. Maybe tomato sauce and pasta ain't cutting it anymore or I should order something that really is out of the ordinary.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

All I heard was Carlsbad. My old stomping grounds. I worked there for 4 years.

If you haven't been, then next time you're in Carlsbad, I vote that you guys go here:

Highly, highly recommended. Fish is all wonderful and shrimp tacos are out-freaking-standing.

I used to love Harbor Fish too, on the beach... now it's just nostalgia because I know how greasy they are. But the clam chowder is still darn good and the fish taco - a huge slab of their fried fish in a monster whole wheat tortilla - is still a very fond memory. Craving one now.

At 4:39 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I had no idea I had SD ex-pats reading! Now that I know...


I saw Pizza Port on the way home. I would've probably stopped in if I wasn't stuffed. But yeah, that "Guy Stuff" store was neat! There was a bear rug in there nicknamed Teddy.


Thanks! And now that I've seen rock shrimp, I'd actually prefer it if they had it as rock shrimp WITH calamari, instead of the other way around. But I guess that would drive up the price.


The manicotti was excellent even as a leftover! I bet it was even better when it was fresh out of the restaurant's oven. It's been a while since I had one, so I think this one left an impression.


Same here. It was only after we ordered that we realized all three dishes had tomato sauce as a component. Next time, gnocchi with browned butter!


OOOH! More things to try in Carlsbad! And since we still have an affinity for that outlet mall, any excuse to explore more of downtown is a good thing. Thanks!


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