Cookbook Tavola Calda (Little Italy)


There’s a lot of activity in Little Italy with seemingly new restaurants popping up all over. Cookbook Tavola Calda in Little Italy has been open since May, and Chef Gregorio Sarafini Pozzi along with his business partner, Filippo Macchiarelli could be filling a niche with staying power. As Chef Gregorio explained to us, the tavola calda in Italy is a gathering place or hang out where people can relax and share food and drink. It can be fast and casual, but also features house made food that you might find at a sit down restaurant. He sources locally as much as possible along with ingredients from Italy. There are some items in the “Italian Street Eats” section he says no one else in San Diego is serving, such as his “Suppli,” and he’s hoping they become as popular here as they have become in Rome, where he hails from.


There are a few tables outside to enjoy the lovely San Diego weather.


The setup somewhat resembles a cafeteria in that most of the food is pre-made, but I’ve never had cafeteria food quite like this before.


Not only do they have a healthy list of lunch and dinner options, you cannot forget about dessert. We got to try chocolate salami too!

We’d take the chef’s advice and share a bunch of different items. They started us out with a sample of their meatballs. After the first bite we could immediately taste Chef G’s philosophy on a plate. He subscribes to the “less is more” doctrine not only because he thinks the public is ready to do away with salty fast food offerings altogether, but also because he thinks you don’t need too many ingredients to make something taste good. His meatball did not have a lot of salt, but the tomato sauce permeated throughout each bite. Combined with the Italian herbs and cheese you had a very mellow, and homey meatball. It wasn’t the juiciest of meatballs but I enjoyed it nevertheless because of its simplicity.  

Chef G used to live and work in New York at a sushi restaurant prior to coming to San Diego. The Cookbook Fried Chicken is one of the only fusion dishes on the menu. It is crusted in panko along with garlic and rosemary, with some sort of aioli on the side. The chicken itself is thin, and he blends Japanese and Italian flavors quite well. This fried chicken is not oily and is light and airy. There’s no question it comes off like a chicken katsu with those Italian herbs popping in and out as you take each bite. The chicken wasn’t dry, but I could have used a little more moisture for my taste.


The Fried Artichoke was another Italian street eat we were served. It has no breading and is topped with parmesan cheese with a side of tomato sauce. Even though it didn’t have any breading, it came off heavier than the fried chicken. Maybe it was the parmesan slightly overpowering the flavor of the artichoke. Certain bites had only a few leaves, while the better bites had more of the meaty parts of the artichoke.


If there was one item Chef G wanted us to order from the Italian street eats section it was the Risotto Ball “Suppli.” I’m glad we did! The outside was like a hard shell you crack into to get to the ooey gooey mozzarella cheesy inside. Boy this was good. The exterior held up to the moist interior and didn’t get soggy in the end. With the marinara sauce it was a joy to eat.
DSC_0039Since most everything we had thus far was from the Italian street eats section, we wanted to try something else. We ventured to the Big Plates section where the Chef’s Daily Special featured bacon wrapped pork with a mushroom cream sauce, served with potatoes and spinach. Everything played off each other perfectly. The mushrooms were delicate, the bacon was crispy, and the creamy sauce wasn’t over the top. It brought everything together and became one of our favorite dishes of the day. Here you won’t get huge portions, but at the same time you won’t leave hungry. 

DSC_0047Ah the chocolate salami. Chef G wants to bring something fun and unique to San Diego, and if chocolate salami doesn’t embody that, I’m not sure what will. He didn’t invent chocolate salami, but it would be the first time I got a taste of it. This version has dark chocolate and vanilla cookies with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. Each piece is soft, with a good ratio of rich chocolate and moist vanilla cookie. Again the portion is not over the top so you don’t feel guilty about polishing it off.


The last dessert we had to try was the Chocolate Chip Tiramisu. Michael added this in the 9th inning just about when we were thinking about heading out. I’m glad his sweet tooth kicked in because it was a delight concluding our meal with it. I hate to get tiramisu because in my experience either not too many places do it well, or I just don’t really like tiramisu all that much. Their tiramisu had me thinking I should give it a chance more often. It’s made up of mascarpone cheese, espresso, and mini chocolate chips. There is a layer of moist cake which gives you something else to play around with while you are scooping away. The chocolate chips were nice and small and tasted great with everything together. I can be picky about chocolate chips but I had no gripes with these. The coffee was there but not bitter or too strong tasting. As a whole, the dessert was light and airy but at the same time came off sweet. I’m happy to report we had no issue locating every ounce of it at the bottom of the cup with our spoons.

They hold cooking classes/demonstrations as well so go to their Facebook or Twitter to keep an eye out for those. Thank you Victor, Giulia, and Gregorio for hosting us. It was a pleasure seeing firsthand the passion you guys have being translated onto the plate.

Cookbook Tavola Calda
2034 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92101
Cookbook Tavola Calda on Urbanspoon
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About Darren

Fooood! I love it if you can't tell already. I love everything about it. The taste, the smell, the look, the feel, the satisfaction, the gratification, and ultimately: the fun! I've been in San Diego for about 10 years now and it amazes me that there are still places to uncover. Traveling, eating, and taking pictures of food has always been a hobby of mine. So naturally Michael and I thought it made sense to share what we found with all of you. I tend to side with the savory but never shy away from a knock out dessert. If you have a place you think we haven't tried let us know! We're always on the lookout...

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One Comment on “Cookbook Tavola Calda (Little Italy)”

  1. A big thank you to you both. It was such a pleasure having you guys here for lunch. I am delighted you enjoyed everything and we would love to see you guys again. Once again thank you for such a nice review and taking the time to come by and visit!! Keep up the good work!!


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