BY CLAIRE HARLIN
At Taste of Italy, located at 4653 Carmel Mountain Road, everyone knows your name.
“It’s just like ‘Cheers’ here,” said Rob Horbianski, the Italian eatery’s general manager. “When I go to Vons next door, all I see is our regulars there.”
And thanks to the loads of regular diners who come in consistently, the restaurant has been able to expand recently, adding an enclosed patio — fit with a fire pit, a big screen for sports or presentations and hookups for Internet or music. The restaurant has not only been inundated by calls to book the room for parties (at no rental fee), but they are offering live music and dancing several nights a week.
Horbianski said the renovations to the restaurant are a reflection of the Torrey Hills neighborhood itself, which is also growing and evolving.
“There are so many new homes being built,” he said. “It’s just a great area with great schools and people want to be here.”
Much of what keeps people coming back to Taste of Italy is the food. For example, there are a lot of people who come in on Wednesdays just for the cream of jalapeño with artichoke soup, a house specialty.
“It’s not Italian,” said owner David Bono of the soup. “But it’s unbelievable.”
Another favorite dish — the fish tacos — are a hidden gem of Taste of Italy, and can be found on the bar menu.
“The bar menu is like our secret menu,” said Bono. “All the locals know about our fish tacos. They are really the best fish tacos in town.”
Taste of Italy also makes its salad dressings and pizza doughs (including gluten-free dough) from scratch, and the tequila-lime jalapeño pasta is a neighborhood favorite.
The caprese and gorgonzola salads are popular.
Appetizers are half price and drinks are $2 off for happy hour, which runs from 2 to 7 p.m.
Bono, whose culinary expertise comes from his Italian upbringing in Boston, is particularly excited to share the restaurant’s new lounge and conference room, which will double as a great place to watch Sunday football this fall. Music hookups on the patio allow guests to play their own personal music libraries, and Taste of Italy also sells cigars.
For more information, visit www.tasteofitalydelmar.com or call (858) 259-2300.