Nothing much has changed at Carino’s over the years, not even the simple decor, with its striking murals depicting scenes from Italy. You’ll still dine on picnic-style tables and benches - although there are leather coverings on the tables now - and you’ll still marvel at how that tiny kitchen can come up with such satisfying examples of traditional Italian food.
Just try these pizza pies for lunch or dinner, and you’ll agree they’re hard to beat, not matter how you slice them.
The crispy-crusted pies come in two sizes: the 12-inch small, which serves eight pieces, and the 14-inch large, which is cut into 12 pieces.
These beauties come in every variety you could ever desire, from onion ($12.50 for a small and $14.50 for a large) to sausage and mushroom ($13.50 and $15.75).
You can indulge in “The Works” ($17.50 and $20.75), or top your pie off with meatball, salami, artichoke hearts or mushroom ($12.50 and $14.50).
Vegetarians are hooked on the veggie special ($16.50 or $19.50). The veggie mix consists of onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives and artichoke hearts, and this pizza is as filling as it is tasty.
If you’re a deep-dish pizza fancier, you can get these smaller and deeper pies for $13.50 for a small and $15.50 for a large.
Pasta fans have a nice variety of choices, which are available as a side only ($6.95 to $9.95) or as a full dinner ($9.95 to $11.95). The dinners include a chef’s green salad, soup and garlic bread.
Try the vegetable lasagna, one of our favorites. This delicious casserole has plenty of cheese and veggies to enrich the pasta. Other good choices are the spaghetti and meatballs, cheese ravioli, clam linguini and eggplant parmigiana.
Carino’s has an assortment of sandwiches ($6.95 to $7.95), but you can also opt for half a sandwich ($4.95) to add to your pizza or pasta order.
For starters, the antipasto is a perfect choice. This cornucopia of cold cuts, cheeses and fresh vegetables is topped off with house dressing, and for the bold eaters, anchovies are available, in true Italian style.
Minestrone soup is another signature starter in Italian cuisine, and Carino’s offers you a cup ($1.95) or a bowl ($3.25) on its authentic menu.
On weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can take advantage of Carino’s lunch specials. During these hours, a half sandwich and salad sells for $7.95, and a nine-inch pizza with any two toppings is also priced at $7.95.
The restaurant serves beer on tap and house wines, along with soft drinks, juice, milk and iced tea. Call in for take-out, since everything can be packed to go.
No fancy ambiance and no reservations at this local landmark, just great food and friendly service.
Carino’s is at 7408 La Jolla Blvd.
Call (858) 459-1400 for more information.