The lamb, so tender it fell from
the bone, was nicely enhanced by the Chianti
based tomato sauce. According to my dining companion,
who claims to have a very fussy palate, the
lasagna was the best Ive ever had.
With that proclamation, I had to try. It was
right up there with grandmas.
For an appetizer we tried
the carpaccio, served over a bed of spinach,
topped with shaved parmesan cheese and
capers. If your mouth isnt watering
yet, it will. The beef was melt-in-your-mouth
tender, and the price very reasonable.
Pinos began in 1997
by owner of the same name, Pino Bottalico,
a native of Florence, Italy. Truth be
told, Pino is a nickname.My real
name is Joseppi.
But because I was small
for my age, my mother would call for me,
Joseppino. But it sounded
more like a call for Tarzan, Josepiiiinoo.
Suffering the harassment of his friends,
Joseppi convinced his mother to just call
Although it is large, Pinos
main dining room has a cozy feeling, with
intimate corners cut out for more private
The walls are covered with pictures
of famous movie stars black and whites
of the best Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida,
Marilyn Monroe, Marcello Marciani. Since
I was a little boy, I loved the theatre.
Pino reflects. Then it was only seven
or eight cents. But even that was a lot of money.
It is difficult to say which is
better, the food or the atmosphere here. If
you are coming with a large appetite, then,
definitely, its the food. The portions
are sizeable. If you are coming to relax, drink
fine wine, and feel at home while exchanging
family stories, then it is definitely the atmosphere.
Hospitality has been Pinos life.
He began with the Westin hotel chain in
Italy. Although he was born the son of
a fisherman, his family lost everything
when his father and boat were lost at
sea. Pino turned to the hotel and restaurant
business where he could earn a wage to
help support his family.
He came to America the first
time for a sponsored position with the
Westin at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida.
After I returned to Italy, I was
In Florida we were busy
serving thousands of people in one night.
In Italy, wed stand around for hours,
waiting, smiling. And the wages
he earned in the US were much higher.
So, much to his mothers
chagrin, he returned to the States and
began his career in the restaurant business.
His managerial experience
reads like a book of the better
Italian restaurants of North County:
Tuscany, Tommasos, Il Forniao.
To say Pino is connected is an understatement.
Many of the recipes
are from his mother, Tina, or variations
of family recipes. The menu features
monthly specials from different
regions of Italy. This night our
entrée was from the Puglia
region of southern Italy.
Pinos chef, Nazario,
has been working with him since
inception. However, no new recipe
or new dish is served without the
prior approval from Pino.
Our evening is topped off
by the devils delight an
incredible tray of sinful desserts. I
chose the amaretto cheesecake; my friend,
the lemon tarte. The cheesecake won hands
down. Smooth, creamy, rich, topped with
slivered almonds and accented with ribbons
of chocolate. Satiated beyond expectation,
we begin to exit.
But do not expect to try
to leave without a warm embrace from Pino.
If you have had an enjoyable evening or
not, he will know. He visits each table
at least once throughout the evening.
Pinos has a thriving catering business
and serves private parties. His manager,
Alex, handles the catering business. It
is only three years old, and yet we have
a great reputation. As the food
is from the restaurant menu, cooked by
the same chef, it is no doubt fabulous.
Hours: Monday Friday
lunch: 11:30 am 9 pm; dinner: 4
9:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday dinner
only 4 9:30 pm.
Payment accepted: Credit cards, cash.
Pricing: Reasonable. Entrees: $12.95
26.95. Pasta: $7.95 - $11.95; Appetizers:
$3.95 - $8.95; Pizza: $10.50
Other: Very courteous staff. Very clean
967 South Coast Highway
In the Encinitas Lumberyard
by John Leonffu