I get a lot of questions on where to eat in Carlsbad Village. Hands down the best restaurant in downtown Carlsbad is Land and Water, but the majority of these questions are from people having a family night out or friends in town and not necessarily a foodie adventure.
You can not turn around without hitting a mediocre Italian or Mexican restaurant in the village. I believe that after my lunch there the other day Ciccioti’s is going to be my go to Italian recommendation for that area.
You have to understand a few things, my mom’s side of the family is from northern Italy and I grew up in an extended household with my grandmother’s cooking. IMO there is no great Italian food in North County or what I have found in San Diego. The best I would say are Trattoria I Trulli in Encinitas and Arriverci in Hill Crest.
You can find a few good solid choices though and from my lunch experience, I would say Ciccioti’s is one for Carlsbad.
Ciccioti’s 595 grand Ave. Carlsbad, Ca
This used to be The Grand Deli (sheds a tear), they had one of my favorite sandwiches the Caboose.
The interior is nice, If I use “open and airy” again I will slit my own wrists, so I’m going with warm and inviting. That’s just as bad:(
I ordered strategically and went for non-red sauce dishes and stuff that would give me a good barometer.
Caprese Salad ~ Tomato, basil, Mozzarella, olive oil, aged balsamic.
I love Caprese salad and while simple you need a few things to make it good not OK. Fresh room temp tomatoes (cold diminishes the flavor), Soft quality Mozzarella, good quality olive oil, and aged almost syrup like balsamic. This had all of those, it passed muster.
Piccata de Pollo ~ Chicken breast, capers, Spaghetti, fresh vegetables.
The chicken was moist, spaghetti was al dente, and vegetables still had a snap to them. A solid dish. Also not too heavy so did not feel bloated after both courses.
Cicciotti’s has had a location in Leucadia for a number of years, this location opened 4 weeks ago. They are still training staff. My service at the bar was perfect but it was slow (the restaurant, not the service, the service was good). So, you may want to give them a couple of weeks before you hit them on a weekend night during tourist season.
595 Grand Ave. Carlsbad