So you’re going on a road trip to California and you want to know what to eat. Of course, there will probably be plenty of big salads, tacos and endless kombucha. But, make sure to consider some Italian food too.
First arriving in the 1850s, Italians have long immigrated to the United States. In particular to the state of the Gold Rush – which was so popular with Italians that there was an Italian language newspaper as early as 1859. That’s why it’s no surprise that the beachy state is packed with amazing Italian cuisine, enriching the culinary culture of the West Coast. But, among the many options, which are the top locations to visit on a California road trip? And what makes each place so special?
Keep reading for a few suggestions of places to dine across LA, Napa Valley, San Diego and San Francisco…
Bestia, Los Angeles
Starting with a recommendation from Time Out Magazine, Bestia is an exciting spot in the heart of Los Angeles’ Downtown District. Born out of a converted warehouse and full of brick walls and steel beams, it has quickly become one of the major spots in LA for Italian food. Opened by the husband and wife team, Chef Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, the spot is the perfect place to enjoy a fresh Italian-driven menu, made with plenty of local Californian produce. Look out for the homemade buttermilk ricotta and their salumi cured meats.
L’antica Pizzeria Da Michele, Hollywood
Sticking with the Los Angeles theme for a moment, you can’t get more authentic than L’antica Pizzeria Da Michele. With the original location formed in Naples in 1870, this restaurant has long been loved by locals and was even featured in the 2010 film Eat Pray Love. And as of recently, you can now visit the authentic restaurant via its Hollywood location. Most famous for its simplistic and traditional margarita pizzas, it’s hard not to feel like you’re eating in Southern Italy at this classic location. Though, unlike the original location in Naples, this spot also serves pasta and a variety of brunch options.
Bottega, Napa Valley
Moving on from LA, this suggestion is perfect for those who love to drive, because this restaurant is located in the vast wine County that is Napa Valley. So, whether driving your own car or using a budget coupon code to rent a car for your trip, you’ll be glad to have a vehicle that helps you explore the gorgeous local area, ripe with luscious greenery and vineyards as far as the eye can see. The restaurant Bottega is located in the town of Yountville and comes with a daily changing wine menu, plus an Italian menu including braised pork belly and a Calabrian marinated chicken. It’s the perfect place to relax, set in a partially outdoor historic winery estate.
Penny Roma, San Francisco
You can’t visit California without dropping by the home of the Golden Gate Bridge, famous for its rolling hills and vibrant community. And you can’t drop by San Francisco without visiting Penny Roma, the Italian restaurant located in an enclosed courtyard. The culinary creation of chefs Ryan Pollnow and Thomas McNaughton, the restaurant has been praised for its fresh produce and homemade pasta and bread. The Focaccia in particular has garnered many compliments. Standout items on the menu include Eggplant Cannelloni, Grilled Squid, Porchetta and the raw Yellowfin Tuna. A beautiful location, it’s well worth a visit.
Bencotta, San Diego
Finally, it would be wrong to finish a list about Italian food without talking about pasta, one of Italy’s most beloved dishes. One of the best places to grab pasta in San Diego, California is Bencotta. Known best for its cheese wheel pasta, this restaurant is constantly updating its menu with pasta specials, served to your table via a giant cheese wheel. All pasta served at the restaurant is homemade and the menu also includes other mouth-watering dishes including meat and seafood. Pasta is the star of the show though and the restaurant regularly updates its Instagram with updates on this week’s pasta dish, including the likes of braised beef & Parmigiano stuffed gnocchi and cavatelli pasta in a taleggio cheese sauce with sausage.