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La Trattoria - Santee


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Restaurants & Bars 15

La Trattoria - Santee

DiningDiva | Mar 22, 2007 12:21 PM

Trattoria di IV has moved into a neat new space and morphed into La Trattoria - Although it bills it's self as "Italian fusion" don't go expecting Italian or fusion anything.

Strictly speaking it isn't really either. Yes, there is pizza, very good pizza matter of fact. Is it "authentic"? I don't know and, frankly, that isn't a deal breaker for me. I find it ironic that La Trattoria is located right next door to a Little Ceasars and I can pretty much guarantee you that the pizza at La Trattoria is infinitely better than that ;-). Pat and I ordered the lobster pizza on the appetizer menu. Unfortunately, they had some first night jitters and we ended up with a pizza with carmelized onions and crispy pancetta. Thin crust, spare use of tomato sauce and cheese, but liberal use of the delectably soft onions and toothsome pancetta. These are elegant pizzas that can not be misconstrued as "cheese bread" or a vehicle for a bunch of toppings. If you're from NYC or Italy, yeah, they probably won't stand up to the withering and critical eye. They do, however, taste really, really good, make a great starter for a table and are probably some of the best pizza in the dining desert that is the East County.

The petite osso bucco has been a menu staple at La Trattoria almost from the day it opened 4 years ago. It's still on the menu and still as good as ever. If you've ever resisted ordering osso bucco because you simply don't like wrestling with a big ol' hunk of meat and bone, this version using a smaller size shank is much more civilized not to mention delicious. It comes with a choice of mashers or fettucini.

And speaking of big ol' hunk o' meat, the braised short rib and French cut pork chop both fall into that category. The short rib was perfectly braised, tender and flavorful. When the pork chop showed up on my plate I had reservations that it would still be moist and tender. I was plesaantly surprised to find it was, indeed, fork tender and no dry. I think I would have perferred it cooked just a tad bit less, but it was still quite good. At least half of it is residing in my fridge at home along with half the pizza, both for future meals. The short rib came with mashed potatoes and the pork chop with a respectable mushoorm risotto laden with large quarters of meaty 'shrooms.

Pat had the vanilla bean panna cotta and I the caramel pot de creme. Both were really decent. I also managed to snag a taste of the chocolate cake from a friend at another table. It was good, but I think the panna cotta and pot de creme were better.

Last night (3/21/07) was their first night of business after the move into the new space and there are a few kinks that need to be worked out. The cooking and food were pretty solid, but service was still pretty rough around the edges and the timing between the kitchen and the front of the house staff a little off. Some things came out quickly, others didn't. The waitress didn't remember until reminded that my pork chop actually came with a dinner salad, or that the Strains should have been served their soup and salad prior to their entree. But, both the chef/owners said they were somewhat surprised by the number of people that actually showed up for the first day. Most of the service issues are small and I would expect them to be resolved within a short period of time. Chef Lily runs a pretty tight ship and isn't going to put up with too much ineptitude once they're safely past opening night jitters. My guess is that it should take them about a month to get the majority of the kinks worked out.

La Trattoria is located at 9720 Mission Gorge Rd. in the same shopping center as Best Buy and will be open Tuesday - Sunday. The East County is not know for great dining, La Trattoiria is a great addition to dining options. Prices are reasonable, the food is very good and a good value for the price. Service will get better and the wine list is interesting and very, very reasonably priced.

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