8141 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa
The Farmer’s Table restaurant in downtown La Mesa had only been open a week when my mother invited us to try it out with her. When we arrived, the line was out the door, and the seats at the bar were all full. Lucky for us, I had made a reservation, and that was a first — making a reservation at a La Mesa restaurant.
The large room was already bustling at 6 p.m., and the former Sanfilippo’s Pizzeria has never looked better. Now it’s decorated as an old farmhouse, with rusty chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and a 1940 tractor in the bar and plants everywhere. Some of the benches and tables are made from old car parts, tires, and vintage suitcases. The vibe was noisy and fun, but our table outside was a little more conducive to catching up with my mom after we had been traveling for a month.
The menu boasts fresh food from local farms, and so we started off with the burnt carrot salad — mainly because the name sounded fun. Our server brought us a plate of pretty baby carrots, not burnt at all, served with small portions of red onion, avocado, and feta. Everything about the dish was delicate, and the taste was fresh and light. All children would eat their carrots if they tasted like the ones created by executive chef Vincenzo Loverso.
My mom ordered the soup of the day, butternut squash with fresh herbs and ratatouille risotto. My husband and I shared the “kurobuta” pork chop (“hog” in Japanese) and roasted corn mashed potatoes with dried apricot and balsamic reduction.
When the food arrived, I felt as if we were sitting at a farmer’s table, reaching over each other and sharing tastes of the dishes like a bunch of rubes. Mom’s soup was so creamy. The oregano stood out the most for me. We both vowed to find the recipe and recreate the flavors.
The pork chop was large, juicy, and marbled with a slight red color. The potatoes were fluffy, and the subtle taste of the corn was unique. But the chop was the star. The risotto had a creamy but chewy texture, and the fresh farm-to-table vegetables in it were bursting with flavor.
Watching the cars drive slowly past our table as the sun set, it dawned on me that with the addition of the Farmer’s Table, downtown La Mesa’s long-time makeover may be complete.