I love Italian food, even more so since my trip to Italy a couple of years ago. Northern Italian, Tuscan, Southern, Sicilian, I like every type of cuisine from Italy. That being said, I very rarely go out for Italian, as I find it pretty easy to produce delicious Italian recipes right in my own kitchen. However, there are some things that I just can’t do at home, such as an authentic polenta, brick oven pizza, and the charred rustic meats popular in Tuscan cuisine.
Then, there are just some restaurants that just do everything so right, that even the most simple items are too tasty to not order. Mia Francesca, located in Del Mar and with several locations around the country, is the exception to both of these rules. Not only do they produce specific dishes almost impossible to recreate in a home kitchen, but their recipes for simple pasta dishes are too delicious to pass up.
Located in a shopping center, Mia Francesca stands by itself with an entryway lined with lemon trees (yes, I was tempted to pick a lemon). The front is perfectly inviting, and patrons soon find that this restaurant is not just a “mall restaurant” at all. The interior décor is quite classic, giving the entire place a feel that this is a restaurant perfectly appropriate for a special occasion – even if the special occasion is the middle of the work week!
After being seated, I checked out their extensive wine list, which featured many impressive options. I love red blends, so I went with the birillo rosso, and my dining companion when with the chianti rufina.
Mia Francesca is known for their delicious salads, so we started out with the pea pod salad. The pea pod salad is composed of sugar snap peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers, all dressed with a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Very simple, but incredibly delicious and a great start to the meal.
For the second course, we had two more of the salads, both of which were very hearty and could have been served as a main meal. The first salad was a Caprese style shrimp salad, which featured sautéed shrimp, spinach, and tomatoes, doused in a garlic, vinegar, and caper sauce. The shrimp was cooked to perfection, and the sauce was to die for!
The other salad was the warm lentil salad, served with goat cheese and spinach. I know that lentils sounds boring, but served with the delicious goat cheese, cooked and seasoned to perfection, there was nothing boring about this dish. I would definitely order it again.
After all of that, we were pretty stuffed by the time our main courses came. We had two classics: the salmon escada and the pollo arrosto alla Romano. The salmon was served in a bed of greens, with lots of lemon-y flavor. The fish was cooked to perfect temperature, and was not overly dressed to hide the flavor of the fish.
The chicken was amazing! The waiter had recommended it so highly that he stated he would pay for it if we didn’t love it, and he was so right! It was a simple roasted chicken with potatoes, served in the most garlicky rosemary sauce. I have dreams about this chicken! I think that I wanted to lick the plate.
We were stuffed, but dessert was inevitable. A beautiful tray of a tiramisu and two profiteroles with ice cream instead of cream. The tiramisu was divine, with real cream making all the difference in the world with flavor and texture. I’m not a huge fan of profiteroles, but these were quite good. The ice cream was a nice change, and would make the dessert more kid-friendly.
Speaking of kids, they eat free on Mondays! Tuesday’s special is a 3-Course Spaghetti & Meatball Dinner for $15 ($10 for children 4-12), and Wednesday is Wine Wednesday, with 1/2 OFF any bottle of wine $75 and under.