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Everybody loved the apple crumble topped with caramel sauce and vanilla gelato. The espresso machine was broken that night, but the regular coffee was good.

The hard news about Acqua is price: ordering all three courses plus desserts with matching wines is very steep. Our dinner came to $177 for two before tip, even skipping some matching wines. The happy news is that it’s easy to halve that sum. It’s still not economical, but it’s a treat rather than a total splurge. The best dishes are the starters, which arrive in generous shareable portions, and then the desserts. For the eyes and the palate, it’s a sweet taste of waterside luxury. ■


★★★1/2 (Very Good to Excellent)

Hilton Hotel and Resort Mission Bay, 1775 Mission Bay, 679-276-4010; sandiegohilton.com/acqua-restaurant

HOURS: Three meals daily, 6:30 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
PRICES: First Course and Second Course appetizers $8–$16; entrées $19–$39; desserts $3–$9. Optional matched wines by the glass $9–$16. Three-course prix-fixe $39 (no set wine matches).
CUISINE & BEVERAGES: California-Mediterranean cuisine with Viennese-influenced desserts. Interesting international wine list, full bar.
PICK HITS: Yellowfin tuna tartare; butternut squash soup with lobster; seared diver scallops; venison medallion with quail egg; Viennese cheesecake; apple crumble. Good bets: crab cakes, short ribs, venison entrée, Mohr im Hemd (chocolate terrine).
NEED TO KNOW: Best, most affordable dinner: sampling from first- and second-course appetizers (several are generously portioned) and desserts. Many entrées available in half-portions. Website menu outdated. Two-level patio with heaters, fire pits, view of SeaWorld fireworks; best view from lower patio (ramp-accessible).

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