LITTLE ITALY. I can’t remember the last time I ate at an Italian restaurant. In general, Italian food just doesn’t invite vegan modifications — there are too many cream sauces, meats, and cheeses to contend with. So when I heard that there was an Italian restaurant offering not just one vegan option, but an entire vegan menu, imagine my surprise.
We arrived and decided to start with the Mushroom “Calamari” — breaded and fried Oyster mushrooms accompanied by a side of Arrabbiata sauce. The lightly fried exterior provided the perfect crunch and protected the delicate flavor of a quality mushroom. And dipping these mushrooms into the (clearly) homemade tomato-based sauce was a treat. Suffice it to say there were only crumbs left on our plate.
[caption id="attachment_3108" align="alignnone" width="640"] Vegan Mushroom “Calamari”[/caption]
Next up was the Pesto Gnocchi, a plate brilliant in its simplicity. Potato gnocchi topped with basil pesto. I love the vibrant green of this entree. The pesto sauce was refreshingly light, as the fresh taste of basil played the lead role and showcased the quality of the ingredients. I also enjoyed a subtle twist on the gnocchi. Instead of the usual rounded, pinched gnocchi, this dish featured smooth, quadratic pillows. Delightful. Each pillow is to be savored.
[caption id="attachment_3125" align="alignnone" width="640"] Vegan Pesto Gnocchi[/caption]
I was also very excited to sample the vegan lasagna. It boasts seitan ragout and vegan incarnations of bechamel, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. Each ingredient shines brightly. The seitan ragout is delicate, the bechamel sauce creamy, and the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses provide the nostalgia (for those of who grew up on the dairy versions). In short, it was the best vegan lasagna I’ve ever had. And this is very hard for me to say–as I truly love the vegan lasagna created by Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows.
[caption id="attachment_3109" align="alignnone" width="640"] Vegan Lasagna[/caption]
I love the interior of 1845 Civico. It feels clean, fresh, and unique. I particularly liked the wall showcasing various culinary instruments.
[caption id="attachment_3111" align="alignnone" width="640"] Civico 1845 Interior[/caption]
I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy my lunch outside on the patio. It is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing meal.
[caption id="attachment_3113" align="alignnone" width="541"] Civico 1845 Outdoor Patio[/caption]
Finally, and importantly, the staff at 1845 Civico are impressive. Our waiter was from Naples, and the owners (including the chef) are Italian, as well. Each individual was passionate about the restaurant, the food, and making the experience as meaningful as possible. Raise a glass!
If you are still reading this post, I will end with the biggest surprise. The chef is vegan. As a result, the vegan menu will be dynamic, always changing. I expect this will be a fun ride.
1845 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101