3001 Beech St, San Diego, CA 92102
By Judi Curry
Whomever said “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” sure must have been in the house last night.
For weeks I have been corresponding with Michael, a reader of the San Diego Free Press. He has commented on many articles I have written; has made suggestions about reviewing a variety of restaurants – Jade, for example – and has suggested that we go out together to review a restaurant.
He has been telling me about the Buona Forchetta for weeks and we finally set the date. Lest you think that this was a “date, date” – let me assure you it was not. I met up with Michael, Jerry, Susan and Monique.
From what I understand, the restaurant usually does not take reservations for less than six people. Since we thought there would be six our reservation was at 7:30 p.m. and the place was full. There is an outside and inside dining area. The inside is very noisy and we felt fortunate to be seated outside. There were space heaters available but we didn’t need one. The restaurant has just recently started being open seven days a week and for a long time did not serve dinner on Sunday evenings. All of that has changed.
Since this was the restaurant that Michael wanted me to try, I read the very favorable reviews on several of the review sites, and was impressed with what was said. South Park is certainly coming into its own, and this restaurant only added to the reputation.
The wine menu is extensive – Whites, sparkling wine, dessert wines, red wines, house wines, sangria, etc. Beer is also served. Although a wee bit pricy for a glass of wine, most at our table ordered a glass. Perhaps the first indication that Michael was not happy was when they served him a red wine in a white wine glass. Many people would not notice that, but our entire party, except for me, had lived in Italy for many years, and it was the first thing Michael noticed.
On a black board by the patio entrance, was a list of the specials of the night: They included a lamb shank with mushrooms; gnocchi with wild boar; spinach and chicken ravioli with pink sauce; linguine with seafood; sea bass, and veal Marsala. The soup of the day was lentil. Although handwritten on the menu board, there were no prices listed.
The regular menu included antipasti, insalate, pizza – of which there were many kinds – and pasta. Listed also was Focaccia bread but what we were served was definitely not Focaccia. However, it was very good, and we finished all that we were served. There were several items on the menu marked with a “V” for vegetarian.
We started off with the Affettati Misti appetizer for $13. It consisted of salame nostrano, prosciutto di Parma, prosciutto cotto, speck and focacci. It was served in an interesting way, (see attached picture) and I was a little taken aback by it. Certainly there must be other ways of serving without a turned upside-down cup.
It was fair. The piece of prosciutto that covered one side of the cup to the other was hard to manipulate; to properly share, it would have to be transferred to an individual plate, cut and then divvied out accordingly. In addition to the poor presentation, I also have to say something about the disgusting wood plank the appetizer was placed on. If I had seen it before I began eating, I might not have indulged in eating it at all. I was assured by my new friends that this is not how it is served in Italy.
Jerry ordered the gnocchi. We found out when we received the bill that it was $15. Michael ordered the linguine ($17); I ordered the veal ($18); and Susan and Monique split an order of the ravioli ($15) and the Sottoterra ($9) that consisted of carrots, fennel, parsnips, onion, mixed greens and goat cheese.
So how did everything taste?
Suffice it to say that Michael not only called me but sent me an email telling me that he was embarrassed about the meal. Jerry’s gnocchi was “miserable and gummy.” He thought that maybe they worked the dough too long because it was almost unpalatable. The sauce was good.
Michael’s linguine had New Zealand green lip mussels — three of them — on the plate and they were very chewy. He felt that they had been frozen and that was why the consistency was so poor. The bay scallops were tender, and there were quite a few but they did not make up for the other three clams that were on his plate. The linguine itself was nothing special.
The sauce on the veal was very good, but the meat was very tough. I found this surprising, because usually veal is very tender. I needed a knife to cut it, and I could have done better with a serrated knife. I like cooked spinach and the bed of it on the plate was tasty. I wish there were more mushrooms in the sauce, and as it was I was the only one that took home any leftovers.
I did not taste the ravioli or the salad, but it is only fair to say that one look at the presentation would have prevented me from eating it.
Michael said that in the future he would probably stick to the artichoke appetizer and one of the specialty pizza’s, because he was so disappointed in everything that he tried. We all elected to forego dessert.
The total for the food was $87. Four glasses of wine and one coke came to $26.50; tax was $8.93. With a tip the bill came to approximate $145.
Would I go back? Interesting question. As a general rule, I do not care for pizza. Some of the pizzas on the menu sound very interesting. It would depend on the crust as to whether I would like it or not. I would probably not return for the entrees. As “authentic” as it was billed, it was a “C” experience.
I would love to go out with the other four people again, but it would need to be at some other eating establishment.
Editor Note: This article was updated to reflect the correct spelling of the restaurant– Buona Forchetta, not Buona Forchett.