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Trattoria Acqua has it all: Food, parking and views

Trattoria Acqua has been a favorite dining destination with connoisseurs of Italian cuisine for the past 13 years. But this month, the restaurant will raise the bar even higher with a Mediterranean Seafood Festival that features an amazing assortment of specialty fish flown in daily, directly from Italy. No need to travel to Italy to enjoy the best seafood from the Mediterranean. Trattoria Acqua brings it all home to us in La Jolla.

Throughout April, this popular ocean-front eatery will offer a special menu of Italian delicacies the likes of orata (halibut), branzino (seabass), Marmora (purple snapper), spiny lobster, accuga (sardines) and triglia (red mullet), just to name a few. As you know, these exotic and delicate fish are seldom seen on local menus, and the flavorful varieties you’ll experience at this Seafood Festival are far superior to the ones we normally get in San Diego.

Every day this month, Executive Chef Damaso Lee will prepare four or five different dishes, served as appetizers or entrees. To complement these seafood preparations, the restaurant is featuring the finest Italian wines, available by the glass or by the bottle. Trattoria Acqua also instituted a new Signature Drink List that includes top-of-the-line martinis and margaritas. Among the specialty drinks fit for a king are the Millionaire Margarita ($24.95), Black Tie Martini ($12.95) and California Lemonade made with Grand Marnier and other pricy ingredients ($12.95).

We tried the Moleche Veneziane ($12.95) during a recent visit, and were delighted with the soft shell crab imported from the lagoon of Venice. The crab is dusted with semolina and crisp fried, and it is delicious. The remoulade sauce and baby greens that accompanied this spectacular dish were perfect.

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The risotto ($22.95) was another incredible dish, made with Italian “Carnaroli” risotto, which avoids the starchy consistency you often find with typical risotto. This wonderful entree was chock full of Black Tiger shrimp, and surrounded by Mediterranean sea scallops. The dish gets its green coloration from the spring baby peas, and it is sure to appeal to risotto lovers.

The Italian halibut ($25.95) was in a class by itself, and we highly recommend it. The chef prepared the fish with cipolllini onions, forest mushrooms, organic corn succotash and bell pepper beurre blanc.

Of course, for Dover sole fanciers, the pan-seared Mediterranean Dover sole dish ($27.95) on this special menu is definitely the star of the show. The chef served it with organic spinach, heirloom potatoes, green grapes and Prosecco wine sauce during our visit. Seafood doesn’t get much more succulent than this, and the chef cooks it to perfection.

Dessert on the special menu is as special and unique as the rest of the dishes. The lemon snow cake - a light-as-a-feather, fluffy lemon cake with coconut icing ($7.95) - gets a touch of bright color and fruity flavor from fresh berries. In addition, the Mediterranean Seafood Festival offers Italian sodas and bottled waters, along with beer and bottled teas.

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Even during this Festival month, you can still order dishes from the regular menu which features several seafood items, along with chicken, beef and pasta. The restaurant cut back on its pasta menu, but you’ll still find more than half a dozen spectacular pasta preparations, along with the wonderful house specialties that feature the best in Italian cuisine.

You can dine inside in the attractive dining rooms or on the magnificent patios overlooking the Cove. Either way, the ambiance is extraordinary.

The restaurant has earned numerous awards for its fine cuisine and excellent wine list. In fact, USA Today rated Trattoria Acqua one of the top 10 Italian dining destinations in America. The April seafood extravaganza can only add to Trattoria’s outstanding reputation.

Service at Trattoria Acqua is always highly professional, and there’s validated parking right under the building. Where else in La Jolla can you get free parking while you enjoy a million-dollar view of the Cove?

Trattoria Acqua is at 1298 Prospect Street. Call (858) 454-0709.