When you mention the Mona Lisa in San Diego, those who know it think of this deli and restaurant first, then the famed painting. I for one have been going there for at least 10 plus years now after stumbling across it one day on a lunch break, and I have been hooked ever since.
Mona Lisa Italian Foods is located in the Little Italy area of San Diego, California on India and Hawthorn Street. The deli is amazing with everything imported and the sandwiches made fresh right there. Be aware, the line gets long at lunch time so plan ahead. You can always eat in the sister restaurant inside the same building for hot, delicious Italian fare.
While I was waiting for my sandwich I started to go deeper in the store and found a treasure trove of authentic foods, produce, wines, Italian cheeses, bread, crackers, desserts, meats and more. Go check it out and see what I’m talking about.
Here are a few pictures from my recent visit where I wanted to find a “big, fat finishing oil” that chef Anne Burrell always talks about. There were endless varieties and things to look at, but I found one after asking a friendly guy behind the deli counter what he would use.
The prices go from moderate to extreme and I picked one in the middle, Planeta, that came with a ceramic dipping dish as a added bonus.
There are so many varieties of pastas and cheeses. The deli has fresh salads of various kinds, house made sausages, too. My favorite being the Mona Lisa with wine and cheeses with just the right spice.
There are also various brands of polenta and Arborio, which is a Italian short-grain rice better know as the rice used in risottos. Actually risotto is a cooking technique, not the name of the rice, but that’s another story…
Every type of tomato sauce is here as well different types of tomatoes – whole, peeled, crushed, roasted, either in a can, box or jar as well as the prized San Marzano tomato.
Delicious capers of every size and technique from small to large, salted to brined. Explore and have fun trying these amazing products.
And here is my new finishing oil that I purchased. I cracked it open and tasted it as soon as I made it home. Well worth the cost and very good. It will be quickly used in no time as will the ceramic dipping dish that the counter girl reluctantly had to go retrieve for me. Buon appetito!