90 North Coast Highway 101, Encinitas
North County’s new kid on the block shares space with the luxurious Lofts at Moonlight Beach and the excellent Lofty Coffee Company.
Quei Bravi Ragazzi, in addition to being the new cafe’s name, is the Italian title for the movie, Goodfellas, which explains the “gangster chic” naming of some pizzas, like “Meyer Lansky” and “Lucky Luciano.” As a rule of thumb, actual Italian people don’t usually share Hollywood’s high regard for Italian-American organized crime bosses, but QBR’s very-Italian owners seem to dig mafia style.
But not as much as they like cycling.
Palmiro Masciarelli rode as a domestique for cycling legend Francesco Moser back in the day, when Moser spun the big gear and couldn’t be stopped except by the highest mountains. Masciarelli’s sons, Francesco, Simone, and Andrea all raced as pros in Europe, with Francesco achieving some success on the Acqua & Sapone team, and even moving up to to Astana before health problems ended his career. Now, the Masciarelli family has invested in pizza, panini, and espresso...with a few high-end racing bicycles on the side.
That’s right: the cafe doubles as a showroom for Masciarelli Racing Bicycles, and the carbon fiber works of rideable artwork hang from the walls. Italian bikes being ever classy, Masciarelli’s sport flashy paint jobs, like a time trial bike masquerading as a fighter jet, or a sub-1000g road frame with a Stars and Stripes Forever theme.
Of course, the pizza and panini are pretty tasty, too. Being good Italians, the Masciarelli’s rely heavily on the cured meats: prosciutto, speck, mortadella, and other salumi. One could have pancakes or Belgian waffles for breakfast at QBR as well, but the irresistible draw of sliced pork (and beef) wins the day. Pizzas ($14-$20) are pretty big, and of above-average quality. Panini ($10-$14) come on very delicious bread, though they don’t get the usual grill pressing treatment, which might catch some people by surprise.
It’s just too bad they don’t open early enough to catch the final forty kilometers of this year’s Tour stages. But, hey, it’s not July yet!