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Vincenzo's cheesy pastas, and now breakfast pizza

Little Italy's cheesewheel pasta bar, from morning coffee to evening spritz

The breakfast pizza:: sausage, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and eggs over easy.
The breakfast pizza:: sausage, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and eggs over easy.
Video:

FEAST!: Vincenzo's cheesy pastas, and now breakfast pizza


Should I start or finish with the macchiato?

I've taken a seat at the bar at Vicenzo Cucina and Lounge, a newcomer to the heart of Little Italy, set at the northwest corner of pedestrian square, Piazza della Famiglia.

Place

Vincenzo Cucina and Lounge

550 W Date Street, San Diego

On the side facing India Street, high back bar stools front a wide window counter that brightens the sidewalk with the signature orange hues of Italy's favorite early evening beverage, the Aperol spritz. Between this, and its tables on the piazza, Vicenzo gives the neighborhood a legit place for the Italian national pastime of apertivo and people watching.


A coffee bar that doubles as an apertivo bar


Except, I'm here at 11:30 in the morning, because that's when the restaurant's cheese wheel pasta service starts. And because I've noticed an intriguing something else on the menu: breakfast pizza.


The cheese wheels first, because that's definitely Vincenzo's hook. It starts with a familiar idea: a hot pasta dish is tossed in a hollowed-out bowl of a cheese wheel, so that the cheese melts into the sauce, effectively giving the pasta a rich, umami coat. To this end, dozens of wheels of two-year aged Parmigianno Reggiano, the size of snare drums, line the long wall of Vincenzo's large dining room, destined to put the finishing touches of an especially creamy Fettuccine Alfredo ($25).

A wheel of Grana Padano, a grainy cow's milk cheese from Northern Italy's Po Valley.


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But that's only one of six different cheese wheel pastas on the menu, each finished within a different wheel, inviting an exploration of Italian hard cheeses. For example, sheep's milk cheeses. The fusilli bolognese ($29) is tossed in a Sardinian pecorino; fans of Roman cuisine will appreciate the bucatini carbonara ($25), tossed in Pecorino Romano. Each pasta has its own, designated wheel, on display within a glass booth off the kitchen, so you can see your order get the treatment.


Diners may watch their pasta tossed in its cheese wheel


The eggy carbonara would make a fine late morning order, but I go for one of the options featuring shaved truffles: the papppardelle in a creamy porcini mushroom sauce, tossed in the wheel of grainy cow's milk cheese, Grana Padano ($28). It's about as indulgent as a meatless dish can get, a supremely flavorful example why Italians I've met tend mock the American fondness for macaroni and cheese.


Pecorino and truffle pappardelle, tossed in a Grana Padang cheese wheel


Of course, the real reason I skip the carbonara is I have that other eggy dish in my sights. Vicenzo offers a menu of wood-fired, Neapolitan style pizzas that get a little unusual beyond the $15 Margherita. The tartufo (truffle) pizza features spinach, fig jam, and the silky, spun mozarella called stracciatella ($18). The spicy soppressata pie add a spin with smoked provolone.


And the $17 breakfast pizza takes a pie topped with Italian sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and adds three eggs—scrambled or over easy.


Sunny-side would have looked better than either option, but at least with over easy I could count on a pool of runny yolk to add to the experience. I have a feeling the breakfast pizza has more to do with Vincenzo's location, immediately downstairs from the wildly popular brunch spot Morning Glory, which frequently has a line of hungry customers that extends all the way to the bottom of those stairs.


In other words, if you show up for brunch and don't want to wait in that line, now you can sit down for eggy pizza and pasta downstairs, instead. You just need do figure out whether you prefer to sip your espresso drink before or after you eat it. As an American, I suspect the only reasonable answer is: both.

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The breakfast pizza:: sausage, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and eggs over easy.
The breakfast pizza:: sausage, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and eggs over easy.
Video:

FEAST!: Vincenzo's cheesy pastas, and now breakfast pizza


Should I start or finish with the macchiato?

I've taken a seat at the bar at Vicenzo Cucina and Lounge, a newcomer to the heart of Little Italy, set at the northwest corner of pedestrian square, Piazza della Famiglia.

Place

Vincenzo Cucina and Lounge

550 W Date Street, San Diego

On the side facing India Street, high back bar stools front a wide window counter that brightens the sidewalk with the signature orange hues of Italy's favorite early evening beverage, the Aperol spritz. Between this, and its tables on the piazza, Vicenzo gives the neighborhood a legit place for the Italian national pastime of apertivo and people watching.


A coffee bar that doubles as an apertivo bar


Except, I'm here at 11:30 in the morning, because that's when the restaurant's cheese wheel pasta service starts. And because I've noticed an intriguing something else on the menu: breakfast pizza.


The cheese wheels first, because that's definitely Vincenzo's hook. It starts with a familiar idea: a hot pasta dish is tossed in a hollowed-out bowl of a cheese wheel, so that the cheese melts into the sauce, effectively giving the pasta a rich, umami coat. To this end, dozens of wheels of two-year aged Parmigianno Reggiano, the size of snare drums, line the long wall of Vincenzo's large dining room, destined to put the finishing touches of an especially creamy Fettuccine Alfredo ($25).

A wheel of Grana Padano, a grainy cow's milk cheese from Northern Italy's Po Valley.


Sponsored
Sponsored

But that's only one of six different cheese wheel pastas on the menu, each finished within a different wheel, inviting an exploration of Italian hard cheeses. For example, sheep's milk cheeses. The fusilli bolognese ($29) is tossed in a Sardinian pecorino; fans of Roman cuisine will appreciate the bucatini carbonara ($25), tossed in Pecorino Romano. Each pasta has its own, designated wheel, on display within a glass booth off the kitchen, so you can see your order get the treatment.


Diners may watch their pasta tossed in its cheese wheel


The eggy carbonara would make a fine late morning order, but I go for one of the options featuring shaved truffles: the papppardelle in a creamy porcini mushroom sauce, tossed in the wheel of grainy cow's milk cheese, Grana Padano ($28). It's about as indulgent as a meatless dish can get, a supremely flavorful example why Italians I've met tend mock the American fondness for macaroni and cheese.


Pecorino and truffle pappardelle, tossed in a Grana Padang cheese wheel


Of course, the real reason I skip the carbonara is I have that other eggy dish in my sights. Vicenzo offers a menu of wood-fired, Neapolitan style pizzas that get a little unusual beyond the $15 Margherita. The tartufo (truffle) pizza features spinach, fig jam, and the silky, spun mozarella called stracciatella ($18). The spicy soppressata pie add a spin with smoked provolone.


And the $17 breakfast pizza takes a pie topped with Italian sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and adds three eggs—scrambled or over easy.


Sunny-side would have looked better than either option, but at least with over easy I could count on a pool of runny yolk to add to the experience. I have a feeling the breakfast pizza has more to do with Vincenzo's location, immediately downstairs from the wildly popular brunch spot Morning Glory, which frequently has a line of hungry customers that extends all the way to the bottom of those stairs.


In other words, if you show up for brunch and don't want to wait in that line, now you can sit down for eggy pizza and pasta downstairs, instead. You just need do figure out whether you prefer to sip your espresso drink before or after you eat it. As an American, I suspect the only reasonable answer is: both.

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