Del Mar Highlands’ Mia Francesca unveils new summer menu

By Kristina Houck

From drinks to desserts and every dish in between, Mia Francesca in Carmel Valley has released an all-new menu just in time for the summer season.

Located in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center, the Italian restaurant is known for its rotating seasonal menu. In fact, Chef Woody Benitez changes the menu so often that diners order from a handwritten list of dishes that’s updated monthly. Sauces, pastas and dishes are made from scratch with fresh local produce and seafood.

“Chef Woody’s got some amazing stuff coming out of the kitchen, some great summer dishes,” said General Manager Kevin Haagenson, who also heads Mia Francesca’s sister restaurant, Davanti Enoteca, which is located next door. “We’re looking forward to a great summer. We’ve got something for everyone.”

This summer, diners can cool off with a cocktail on the restaurant’s patio. The DiSotto Manhattan features a mix of Templeton Rye and Sweet Vermouth, topped with maraschino cherries and an orange peel. The Pomegranate Lychee Martini is a tropical splash of pomegranate vodka, SOHO Lychee Liqueur, lime juice, cranberry juice and garnished with fresh lychee fruit and three olives.

Start off with an appetizer and choose from four varieties of bruschetta, thick-cut slices of toasted Italian bread layered with cheese, herbs, veggies and other toppings.

Fans of roasted Brussels sprouts are sure to enjoy Cavoletti di Bruxelles con Pancetta, sprouts served with spicy Fresno peppers, crispy pancetta and a touch of lemon.

Or you can try Risotto con Funghi, a creamy risotto made with mushrooms, garlic, white wine and fresh mozzarella.

A popular new dish is Focaccia al Forno, oven-baked Italian bread topped with Crescenza cheese, thin slices of Italian speck ham and fresh arugula.

If you’re in the mood for pasta, you’ve come to the right place. Mia Francesca’s noodles are made in-house, and this summer, the chef has introduced Linguine Fagattaro. This simple yet scrumptious dish features linguine topped with a sauce of tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil and mozzarella.

As for seafood, the Pesce con Tarragon e Funghi is new on the seasonal menu. The yellowtail comes with bay shrimp, tarragon aioli, mushroom and oven-dried tomatoes.

Finish off your meal with refreshing blood orange sorbet mixed with vanilla gelato and Aranciata, which is Pellegrino’s carbonated orangeade, and topped with whipped cream.

Mia Francesca came to San Diego more than two and a half years ago, after a long history in the Midwest. In 1992, restaurateur Scott Harris opened the first location in Chicago. Now there are 20 Mia Francesca traditional Italian eateries in Chicago, as well as locations in Wisconsin, North Carolina and California.

Mia Francesca is located at 12955 El Camino Real, Suite G-4, Carmel Valley. The restaurant sits next to Davanti Enoteca and across from Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas.

For more information, call 858-519-5055 or visit

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