Top 10 Little Italy Restaurants and Hotspots To Visit This Holiday Season
Once home to more than 6,000 Italian families who worked to build San Diego’s then-flourishing tuna fishing industry, Little Italy is now a quaint and lively neighborhood filled with patio cafés, unique restaurants, art galleries, shops, hotels, and the beautiful Amici Park. Whether you frequent the area or are just paying a winter vacation visit, the festive, holiday light-ordained India Street houses an array of restaurants and lounges that offer everything from old-fashioned Italian to modern-day twists and is sure to offer the perfect nook that will speak to your unique taste.
To really understand what a holiday season in San Diego’s Little Italy looks like, we took to the street and tasted our way through the iconic neighborhood just outside the city’s downtown district. Take a look at the special mentions below to see just what thrilling experiences we found.
While searching for the best of the best, we got to know the history, community, tradition, flavor, and people who are the fabric of this fascinating neighborhood – and found that we couldn’t stop at just restaurants. What has recently been named the fastest growing Little Italy in the nation cannot so easily be boiled down to a brief list. So you’ll also hear from local expert and author, Whitney Bond, who will give her top five vendors not to miss at the local mercato. And in case you’re in the area for more than just dining, a nationally renowned design district and holiday festivities to note wrap up our tour.
Italian Café | 1731 India Street
Brothers Joe and Frank Busalacchi were just kids when their parents packed up the family of nine and left Palermo, Sicily for California. The family had a cousin who owned a fishing boat at port in San Diego and their fisherman father wanted to provide the best life he could for his wife and seven children. Fast forward a few decades and you’ll now find that same pair of Sicilian brothers carrying on their culture in a restaurant meets bakery store front that has remained a fixture on India Street since 1996.
Inside you’ll find delectable desserts you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in San Diego, but the offerings go far beyond just desserts. When you walk through the front doors you may become overwhelmed by the rich, sweet aroma that fills the venue – but don’t miss the savory offerings while you visit. Be sure to give the arancini a try. The perfectly fried, golden-brown rice ball filled with meat or fresh mozzarella cheese is abounding in rich flavor unlike your typical small bite. From hearty pasta and risotto dishes to eggplant-filled paninis this café has the typical coffee shop beat and tops it off with every freshly made dessert you could ask for. Co-Founder Frank Busalacchi sat down with us over espresso and an array of Sicilian pastries to discuss the history that enables Trattoria Fantastica and Café Zucchero to remain uniquely remarkable over the years.
Has Little Italy always been your home away from home?
When we got here, the neighborhood didn’t look much like it does now. It was a small, safe community, but when the highway split the neighborhood right down the middle things changed. A lot of Italian families left at that time and it was rough for a while. But, we’ve cleaned ourselves up a lot and it’s become that family-like community. It’s that small town you want just outside the city.
Busalacchi was absolutely right about this statement. From the moment we walked in, we were greeted like family. Over the next hour we watched as customer after customer was welcomed like an old friend. A group of about five Sicilian men sat by the front door singing old Sicilian songs in harmony and encouraging every patron to join in on the jovial chorus whether they spoke Sicilian or not.
How did you and your brother decide to open a restaurant?
It was all my brother, Joe, at first. Together we have five restaurants across town, but it all started with just the one—Trattoria Fantastica in 1993. When we came down here there was almost nothing, just the lone pizzeria—Filippi’s. Joe wanted to offer a finer dining option, so he opened the restaurant and offered authentic, traditional Sicilian dishes. When I joined him, I wanted to offer the pastries and gelatos that are equally traditional, just the sweeter side of things. So, we opened Zucchero to offer a lot of traditional desserts, but we’re known nationwide specifically for our cannoli. We make our own handmade shells that even people from San Francisco come in and stack up on. When I was young, my mom made them at home—everyone’s mom made them at home back then. That’s something that young people just don’t have the time to do anymore.
For those who don’t but would like to maintain the Italian tradition of filling cannoli shells at home for the holidays (similar to the way Americans bake Christmas cookies), Zucchero offers empty shells and an order of pre-piped filling.
So your mother taught you to make traditional pastries?
I learned the basics from my mother, but when I decided I wanted to make a business out of this, I got in touch with my cousins back in Palermo. They put me in contact with a 75-year-old man known for his pastry abilities throughout the area. He and his wife moved here for six months to teach me everything I needed to know about making cannoli, casatta, cartocci, marzipan, gelato and more—all Sicilian-style! Back then, nobody around here had seen anything like these kind of desserts.
Standout Pastries: These are not the light-colored cannoli you’re probably used to seeing. Sicilian Cannoli—specifically how we make them in Palermo—are dark brown, not the typical New York style. We add cocoa powder to the shells for a special touch. Casatta Siciliana, “the cake of Sicily," is a beautiful creation of marzipan, sponge cake and ricotta, topped with a decadent floral design made from candied fruit. Cartocci is one of the jewels of Sicilian pastries. It uses the same mixture as a fried donut for the dough but is made into a spiral and filled with ricotta cream. If that’s not a dream—I don’t know what is.
Rustic Italian | 1609 India Street
Glance up from your plate of Coniglio alla Mamma Pina and you’re likely to catch a glimpse of co-owner Antonino Mastellone. Despite having fourteen other restaurants in the Greater San Diego area, Mastellone’s emphasis on pleasing the customer makes him approachable and available while inside each of them. It is not unlike him to pay visits to each of his locations so that he can personally interact with his patrons to say hello or offer a regular a complimentary dessert.
In 2003 the three owners of Trattoria i Trulli in Encinitas, Calif., chose to venture south to Little Italy with the opening of this rustic, classic Italian restaurant. Originally from Sorrento, Italy, Mastellone has worked across the country from New York to Los Angeles in every facet of the restaurant business. Mastellone, and his partners Salvatore and Daniella Caniglia began contemplating a Little Italy opening in 2000 when the area began its first major period of growth. We broke bread with Mastellone and General Manager Flavio Piromallo at Buon Appetito on a beautiful San Diego winter afternoon to discuss this rapid success and how he has managed to maintain the consistency and integrity of his many Little Italy restaurants over the decades.
What made you decide to bring Buon Appetito to Little Italy?
The Little Italy Association is one of the best in the United States and they worked to create a community that was not only a nice residential area, but also a good opportunity for businesses. They work really well with us and have kept it very clean and safe. They have made it so Little Italy is not just a place to eat Italian food, but really a destination. New businesses bring more people. More diversity brings more people. Little Italy right now is just getting better and better all the time.
Across each of your locations, no matter how different the cuisine or ambience, they all seem to be small venues. Why is that a common theme?
In Italy, you go to the bigger cities and find bigger restaurants, but generally restaurants are quite small, or ‘mom and pop.’ We wanted to replicate that here. It feels nice for customers when they are in an environment that feels intimate, but it is also easier to maintain a high quality of service. We can better tend the needs of customers in a smaller space. Service, after all, is the most important thing to a restaurant after taste.
Mastellone’s emphasis on service was a factor clearly communicated to his staff. Piromallo ran plates from the kitchen to diners personally. A glass was never below half full without being attended by a friendly team member. When asked about the three most popular dishes, Mastellone asked Piromallo to deliver the dishes to our table immediately. Once delivered, he let the dishes speak for themselves. Before parting, he offered to divulge his recipe secrets then bid us ‘Buon Appetito.’
The dishes were notably more complex than we would have assumed from their written descriptions. The risotto surpassed nearly any other we’ve tasted in the continental United States – offering variance of texture, depth of flavor, and creativity in presentation. The pasta was refreshingly light, yet robust and adorned by a pleasantly peppery burst of fresh Italian sausage. The impressively fresh, fork-tender sea bass melted in your mouth in all its glorious flakiness and was accompanied by a tomato sauce worthy of its perfection.
Standout Dishes: Risotto all Piemontese (Italian Arborio rice with porcini mushrooms and asparagus drizzled with truffle oil served in a Parmesan nest); Orecchiette alla Barese (ear shaped pasta tossed with broccoli rabe, Italian sausage and fresh chopped tomatoes); and Fresh Chilean Sea Bass (sea bass sautéed in fresh homemade tomato sauce with clams and mussels and served in a bed of linguine).
Modern Italian | 750 W Fir Street
Bencotto, which refers to a meal being “done well,” or perfectly cooked, is the quintessential name for this fine dining restaurant that remains Little Italy’s modern beacon of Milanese cuisine. You won’t find red-checkered tablecloths at this swanky venue; the sleek, slate-covered bar remains welcoming despite its contemporary aesthetic. Here, you’ll find that culinary expertise and high-quality taste marry elegantly with modern sophistication and deep-rooted culture.
The four co-founders of the Modern Italian restaurant represent a new generation of Italians that other Little Italy neighborhoods nationwide are often not privileged with including. It was for that reason that co-owner Valentina Di Pietro was hesitant about choosing any Little Italy as the location of her restaurant. We sat down with the wildly charming Di Pietro to discuss how the deterioration of her original impression of San Diego’s Little Italy has been a welcomed, pleasant surprise as Bencotto continues to shine as a beacon of culinary and service excellence.
What exactly was your hesitation about choosing this location?
We are a young, modern generation from Northern Italy (Milano and Modena). Many people don’t realize that Milano is very modern, similar to New York. I was nervous that having a restaurant in Little Italy was too cliché and that we might risk being associated with the stereotyped versions of Italy that don’t represent our part of the country. I was living in New York with my husband, Guido Nistri (manager and co-owner of Bencotto), looking for a space to begin our restaurant. Our broker told us about the suite on West Fir Street. My husband flew across the country to see the space and immediately called me and said, ‘The space is beautiful. This is definitely the right place.’ I had left San Diego in 2004 and back then it was a very industrial area. When I arrived I saw that it was unbelievable. My husband was right. It really was meant to be.
So you’re happy being here now?
Absolutely. The beauty of Little Italy is that it is really opening up. They welcomed our menu and concept. Everyone walks through the streets, the way we do back in Italy. We have gotten to know a lot of the other business owners in the area. The Little Italy Association really has done an amazing job keeping it clean, welcoming and updated.
Has your menu remained exactly as you had envisioned it prior to the move?
We have stayed very true to your culture. Our Executive Chef Fabrizio Cavallini makes the most beautiful dishes and sauces that our very true to our culture. If you see our menu, you see fresh pasta that our grandmother’s made back in Northern Italy. These are recipes that are very hard to find in other Italian restaurants.
Why do think Bencotto has been able to remain an area favorite year after year?
We push the envelope every day. Our approach offers ‘home style’ dishes we grew up with in an environment that reflects us as individuals. We celebrate the flavors and ingredients of our culinary heritage in an inviting kitchen-restaurant. We have come together and used our different experiences from the restaurant business in Milan, Modena, San Diego, and New York to offer what we see to be the ultimate Italian eating experience. The menu is inspired by the flavors that Milanese people grow up with, cook and eat.
Standout Dishes: The Ravioli Di Zucca recipe we use comes from the chef’s hometown near Modena. It’s a rich, exquisite blend of sweet and savory that makes the dish quite complex. The ravioli pasta, which includes a subtle almond flavor courtesy of finely ground Amaretti cookie, is filled with a rich pumkin purée. To balance all that flavor, it is topped off with toasted bacon. You must also taste the Gnocco Fritto. It is a common dish in Modena. It is a lightly fried puff pastry that we serve with cheese. It’s absolutely amazing. Finally, do not miss the Osso Buco – it is always a best seller. It is a culinary trademark of Milanese cuisine. It a glorious dish of spoon-tender, marrow-filled braised veal shank served over mashed potatoes. It represents the delicate balance of luxurious and earthy, bright and hearty. This is another dish that people in Milan turn to every winter.
Traditional Italian | 2061 India Street
In 1973 Stefano Brunetto opened Little Italy’s Mona Lisa Restaurant and Italian Foods to service the tuna industry by delivering meals to the fisherman who made up the area. Brunetto enlisted the help of his three sons – Dominic, Benny and John – in creating a traditional family-style restaurant that offered affordable fare the average fisherman can feed a family on.
Brunetto arrived in New York in 1949. When he left of his hometown of Aspra, Sicily, he ventured first to Milwaukee. After realizing that the harsh winters were not something he’d ever like adjusting to, Brunetto travelled to San Diego, where the fishing industry was still thriving. The first Mona Lisa Restaurant was opened on 11th and Broadway in Downtown San Diego in 1956.
We dropped by Mona Lisa Italian Restaurant, where Dominic –now co-owner of community staple – welcomed us to sit down and talk about the history that now carries Mona Lisa into its fourth decade.
How does it feel to remain a part of this community after all these years?
We are so proud that Mona Lisa is now three generations strong. My father began Mona Lisa as a place to remain rich in tradition. My son, Stefano, my nephew, also named Stefano, and my daughter, Renata, will all soon be joining our team. They are each college-educated, which is an opportunity not everyone has. We are so proud that they will carry us into the fourth generation of Mona Lisa. Forty-one years strong and planning for the next 41, see you in 2055!
What do you think Mona Lisa adds to the community as it continues to thrive?
It’s great that we have so many different restaurants coming in. Those restaurants that are rich in tradition, though, can be a refreshing change to all the new trendy restaurants that are opening in Little Italy. We started off a very quaint, traditional community that made people feel at home and I think a part of us will always remain that way.
Is the holiday season in Little Italy particularly special for Mona Lisa?
We do tremendous business for the holidays. We offer traditional Italian holiday dishes, but people still have their favorite dishes that we serve all year – like, the pizzas. People always want our pizzas because they’re made the old, traditional way. We have to also thank the Little Italy Association for their year-round work, but especially during the holidays, they make Little Italy truly special. They made this a place that families from all over the county will enjoy.
Standout Dishes: The perfectly balanced sweet, with a hint of tangy, Sicilian tomato sauce that covers Mona Lisa’s traditional lasagna has been passed down for generations. Any pizza you choose order would be a great decision, but the number one seller (and one we couldn’t love anymore) – The Works. Slathered with homemade tomato sauce, a heavy hand of pepperoni, onions sliced so thin they add a subtle flavor that doesn’t overwhelm, and topped off with fresh (made in-house daily) Italian sausage on old-fashioned crust, it’s no wonder this pie is a crowd pleaser. If you’re looking for you’re looking for a delicious, sincerely hefty cold sub look no further than the Torpedo. This original is stacked full with mortadella, salami, ham and Swiss cheese and has been a favorite since 1956.
Traditional Italian | 1747 India Street
When Vincent DePhilippis and Madeleine Stefani met in New York in 1925, they had no idea they would later open a family restaurant that grew to include 14 locations across Southern California. DePhilippis arrived in New York from Italy just three years earlier. Stefani had arrived that same year from France. Once married, they ventured across the country and founded a deli and grocery store that has stood as a fixture in the community since 1950. Filippi's Cash and Carry was just the beginning of a successful family restaurant many now know as Filippi's Pizza Grotto, which to this day remains owned and operated by family members of the original founders. We sat down with Danny Moceri, grandson of the original founders and general manager in Little Italy, to discuss what that history means.
What makes Filippi’s special to San Diego’s Little Italy?
We have tried to keep everything the same. From the old chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling, the original brick walls, to the imported Italian cheeses, wines, and pastas, you feel like you’re in the old Italian neighborhoods. We’re going on our 65th year here and what started as just the market up front, selling to the local tuna fleet has grown into what we are now. We became a restaurant after my grandmother began making sandwiches for the fisherman while they were waiting for their orders. People like that. People like knowing they’re going to come in and still see the family. My 86-year-old mother still helps work in the register some nights a week. It’s a pretty amazing thing when you’ve watched the neighborhood around change so much over the years.
How has this neighborhood changed?
When I was a little boy, I’d sit on the counter next to my grandmother as she worked. I’ll always remember the quaint little town it was back then. That old-fashioned community feel hasn’t changed, and I don’t think it will. If you look at the shops, the charming homes, the boutique hotels, and everything that makes our Little Italy one of the hottest spots in the country, you can see how special it is. It wasn’t always that way though. In the last 20 years, we've fixed streets, put in new sidewalks and trees, updated and added piazzas. We're always improving things and now more people want to come in. There's a mix of food here now and we welcome that. It's a good, safe community and we want to keep it that way.
Standout Dishes: My grandmother’s lasagna. We still use the same recipe she made all those years ago. Can’t miss our traditional pizza either. We use the old-fashioned bread-style dough; you can get it any thickness you want now but it's my grandparents' original recipe and it hasn’t changed for 65 years and won’t change moving forward. It’s not a dish, but you’ve got to drop into our market. All our pastas, cheeses, wines, and meats are imported straight from Italy.
New Zealand-inspired | 1557 Columbia Street
Bet you didn’t guess you’d be craving New Zealand-style fare when you visited Little Italy. Trust us when we say, all it takes is one taste and you’ll want to be coming back for more.
The venue is quirky and unpretentious. The food inspired and beyond the bounds of satisfying. The cocktails whimsical, yet full. Whether you want a cozy cottage weekend brunch or you want to sit out by the fire at night, visitors are sure to feel at home in this tucked away cottage spot, that embodies the very essence of Little Italy. How exactly does it do that? Long after New York’s Mulberry Street reached its peak of chic and has since become a tourist trap perpetuating cheesy Italian stereotypes, San Diego’s Little Italy continues to remain relevant by staying true to its one greatest ability –the ability to reinvent itself. Though it may not offer the typical Italian dish, it has been able to transform the former Assembly district office turned personal cottage into a welcoming local restaurant the neighborhood gladly calls one of its own.
“If you’re in Little Italy and you’re looking for a unique experience that will make you feel at home, Queenstown is definitely the place to stop in,” PJ Lamont, co-owner, said. “The whole neighborhood is awesome during the holidays, but we definitely try to put our own spin on the festivities, too.”
Standout Dishes: For dinner, the Rack of Lamb (New Zealand rack of lamb in a port demi glaze served with sweet potato mash with blue cheese crumbles and sautéed kale and shaved fennel) and Fish N Chips (beer battered haddock served with fatty fries, tarter sauce, and malt vinegar) are consistently solid bets and crowd favorites.
If you’re stopping in for brunch, however, the standout three would have to be the Bare Lil Lamb Burger (New Zealand all natural lamb patty, blue cheese crumbles, mint jelly, shoe string beetroots, topped with a fried egg and served on a toasted focaccia bun), the Chicken and Waffles, and the Oink (jalapeno corn bread with hoisin pulled pork, poached egg, jalapeno cayenne hollandaise sauce and garlic kale).
American | 2215 India Street
Within the 9,000-square-foot wonderland of locally brewed beer and Southern California fare, foodies and beer enthusiasts alike will no doubt revel in the abundance of flavor. Half the interior space resembles the traditional tasting room setting of standing room only. On the other side, the dining area features multiple tables of varying heights and a counter lining the window that overlooks India Street. Outside, a 50-seat beer garden allows the option of outdoor patio drinking and dining – which is even a viable option in December for San Diego diners!
Since its opening in October 2013, the menu has undergone a few tweaks and refinements, but the is no doubt that whatever local brewing titan is serving up, the Little Italy neighborhood is better for it.
“It really is a great neighborhood,” said Hilary Cocalis. “We are really happy at how well we have been received. Our neighbors are really friendly and have been really receptive of us, and us to them.”
The decision to open the tasting room and kitchen was a matter of opportunity and timing. The nationally known craft brewing company did not intentionally decide to fill the role of the lone brewery in the neighborhood, but Cocalis said they’re glad they had the chance to do just that.
“We knew we wanted to plan a pilot brewery that’s significantly smaller that our other operations,” Cocalis said. “This location allows us to get back to our roots and experiment with flavors and test out new recipes. Every one of the employees gets to be a part of the brewing process.”
Standout Dishes: Fish Tacos (topped withbcrèma, avocado, Cotija cheese, cabbage, and salsa fresca. Served with chips and frijoles); House Made Pretzel (Bavarian style pretzel with housemade mustard and Ballast Point beer cheese); and Organic Kale Salad (Pickled onion, hominy, avocado, feta, granola, chipotle vinaigrette).
American | 2001 Kettner Boulevard
The newest kid on the block, Kettner Exchange has been highly anticipated by area residents since the summer months. Open just 7 weeks, and the chic cocktail lounge meets upscale restaurant has already received rave reviews.
The menu is a unique combination of seafood and Southern fare unlike anything you’ll likely find anywhere else. Boasting an entirely unique progressive American menu, the only venue to feature a rooftop lounge in Little Italy is right at home with its eclectic cuisine neighbors. In addition to offering creative, flavor abounding shared plates and some of the most inspired specialty cocktails around, the modern design and ‘cool’ venue makes it a welcomed addition to a neighborhood that was lacking in this particular kind of flare – the kind that offers daily music on a rooftop overlooking a view of San Diego Bay.
In a nod to San Diego’s early history, Kettner Exchange was named after former congressman William Kettner. In the early 1900s Kettner was credited with bringing the military to San Diego. This influence is represented by a few nautical touches adorning the space.
“As we were designing Kettner Exchange, we sought to pay homage to Kettner's attributes by creating a dignified yet welcoming environment with subtle nods to our great bay and nautical history,” Matt Spencer, owner, said. “We’d like to think many influential people such as Kettner will enter this place and enjoy an honest drink with a gratifying meal in America’s Finest City.”
Standout Dishes: Big-Eye Tuna “Pizza” (red onion, ponzu, shiso, truffle oil); Tofu Coconut Soup (“Thai flavors,” shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy) and the Chocolate Cup.
Nuevo Latino | 1536 India Street
Another area favorite that steps away from traditional Italian cuisine, Indigo Grill offers a global menu with Latin influences. With strong Peruvian and Chilean influences, the new flavor on the block immediately grew wildly in popularity. The unique venue went on to become one of the city's most popular dining destinations, receiving numerous accolades from local media. The eclectic menu draws from Latin influences, but is updated with modern twists. The revamped project also features a robust beverage program with food and drink pairings, craft cocktails, and a large variety of locally brewed beers.
"Indigo Grill has been a part of the Little Italy community since 2001, and we offer a unique dining experience with creative modern Latin cuisine and amazing décor by Philippe Beltran," Deborah Scott, Executive Chef and Partner. "Little Italy is the perfect place to create special memories over the holiday season; its diversity and neighborhood atmosphere lends a feeling of warmth and festivity to any family gathering."
Standout Dishes: Bibimbap (lap cheong, kimchi, ginger, garlic, egg, duck fat, scallion, jalapenos, chili paste); Anticucho Boards (Options include: Pollo [tahini marinade], camaron [garlic & cilantro], slow cooked pork belly [orange zest & fried ginger]; Skirts on Fire Salad (marinated skirt steak, mixed greens, black beans, mandarin orange salsa).
Espresso Bar | 1704 India Street
When you’re looking to do as the Italians do and make beeline from your bed to a neighborhood coffee shop, a good place to start could be Caffe Italia, which has been family owned and operated since 1992. Here you’ll find an espresso bar with a robust collection of coffee, cappuccino and espresso made with Lavazza coffee beans imported straight from Italy. If you choose to stop in later in the day, they have an assortment of panini, salads, and desserts. Plus, drop by on a Sunday for the Brunch-Waffle Bar. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.
We know what you’re thinking. We missed a pivotal portion of a facet of San Diego’s Little Italy that makes it undeniably unique in its old-school charm and neighborly revelry. Before you worry too much about we could overlook one of the state’s best farmers markets, we have an exciting introduction to make. Rather than try to round up the best of the Little Italy Mercato on our own, we enlisted the guidance of local expert Whitney Bond, who has a wide following on her blog Little Leopard Book, which features recipes, restaurant reviews, video segments, Little Italy food happenings, and more! She has also recently authored her own cookbook and achieved local stardom as a TV personality.
With its urban lofts, polished streets and cool stores, Little Italy is also a great place to burn off those carbs you’ve no doubt racked up while indulging in the neighborhood offerings. So, take a stroll to take it all in with a nice walk that's likely to encompass various points of interest and cool works of art. The north end of Little Italy had long been the unsung, gritty industrial cousin to the main portion of Little Italy’s restaurant row. As the area that had previously been overrun by machine shops and warehouses soon saw those business closed their doors. What was left was an emerging design district that would become home to art galleries, aspiring fashion designers, home décor shops, and many more creative arts business.
Perry Meyer opened the doors to his art gallery in May 2006. Despite dealing in art since 1978, Meyer was one of the scene’s early arrivals when he took his spot in an old art and design building. From the front window of his gallery, which specializes in limited-edition prints and works on paper, ranging from pieces by Dalí and Chagall to vintage Italian posters, Meyer has watched the neighborhood around him grow in size, liveliness and variety. He says this is exactly the reason he was drawn to the location in the first place.
“We moved down her because it’s a thriving area, with so much more growth to come,” Perry Meyer, owner, said. “When you’re here, you’re a part of a unique neighborhood that functions like one big family. You can sit in a neighborhood restaurant and have conversations with people you’ve never even met – I did it just like weekend! It really just is the perfect place to be.”
Oh, and for those of you who think you’re other family member shouldn’t be left out of all the food fun, we haven’t forgotten our four-legged friends and their taste buds too!
"San Diego is a great destination 12 months a year, but walking down the main drag of Little Italy when you see decorations on every corner, holiday lights lining the streets, and our beautiful Christmas tree, just really makes that special,” Chris Morgan, owner, said. “You get a real sense of family and community, which is important because that’s what this neighborhood was founded on and that includes our pets.”
For residents and travellers alike, this pet shop is truly special. Housed in the old art and design building on the north end of Little Italy, Hairy and Merry is more than just a pet supply store. They offer a full, eight-foot bakery case, indoor playrooms, overnight care, day care, and so much more! This is an absolute must for pet lovers.
Standout Services: Bakery Case, 12 Days of Playcare, PupArt
A final note while you’re in the area, don’t overlook the The Little Italy Association’s Christmas Tree in the Piazza Basilone. Every year the village gathers for the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree, where neighbors gather to join in the festivities complete with complimentary Italian cookies, cider, and coffee while Little Italy Mercato vendors sell holiday gifts.