Osteria Romantica brings Italian tastes to La Jolla


Anyone looking for a taste of Italy in La Jolla may want to book a seat at Osteria Romantica for the holidays now.

Fabio Speziali, who owns the quaint restaurant at 2151 Avenida de la Playa in the heart of the Shores, with Antonio Mastellone (who also owns Arrivederci in Hillcrest) said this is one of their busiest times of the year. And to accent the spirit of the season they highlight a few special traditional dishes, combining the tastes of Speziali’s Lake Como home and Mastellone’s Sorrento heritage.

In addition to daily specials that are switched up year-round, in December they add sweet bread and Baccala. The latter is a meal of dried cod that is soaked in water for three to four days to cleanse it of the salt used to preserve it, Speziali said. Once ready to cook, it is served with fresh tomato sauce, olives and capers.

Osteria Romantica does not offer a prix fixe menu option, he said, choosing instead a wide selection of a la carte offerings.

Drawing a large crowd of regulars from the Shores neighborhood, Speziali said the restaurant attracts a wider range of diners during the “nice season” when the weather warms up.

And on Tuesday nights, regulars and visitors get a 50 percent discount on bottles of wine from Chile, South Africa and even Israeli, along with American and Italian choices.

“We focus on all Italian,” Speziali said, noting that his own favorites from the Osteria menu include the Gnocchi Gratinata and its pork shank.

Osteria Romantica, which also does catering and offers a children’s menu, is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and weekdays for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. and weekends from 5 to 11 p.m.

Make a reservation at (858) 551-1221 or go to

to check out the menu.