Scuderie Italia is dishing out elevated cuisine at reasonable prices with a casual atmosphere showcasing its Italian race car-themed eatery in Pacific Beach.
The improved Italian bistro at 1525 Garnet Ave., previously Caffe Bella Italia, is now also serving a weekend lunch offering its full menu of flavorful Italian dishes, along with American classics, on Fridays through Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.
“Italy is a big country with a lot of different recipes and all different influences between its different regions,” noted Florence, Italy, native and restaurateur Leo Landini, who also owns Landini’s Pizzeria in Little Italy and at Liberty Public Market. “We serve Napoletana pizzas straight from Naples made in wood-fired ovens with Tuscany recipes, along with some other northern Italian influences.”
That North Italy connection is where the revamped restaurant’s car theme comes from. That region of Italy is the birthplace of Ferrari and other high-profile luxury and sports cars.
About his hybrid Italian-restaurant concept, Landini said: “We were trying to figure out a way to design it to be interesting for younger PB people, and at the same time, be appealing to residents close by in North PB and on Mt. Soledad. We also didn’t want to deal with high-volume music. So I came up with this concept of trying to be interesting for both those [markets].”
Added Landini: “I love all the (Italian) cars. So I came out with this idea of creating a restaurant, built not only around food but as a place where people can get together and see all these cool Italian cars and engines.”
Scuderie Italia’s menu features handmade Italian pastas, charcuterie, and more, all made with fresh local ingredients. Signature dishes include shrimp with garlic; Calabrian chili and crostini; gnocchi with butternut squash puree, pine nuts, and sage; handmade ravioli filled with eggplant and topped with Pomodoro and fresh basil; prosciutto Cotto and mushroom pizza with sauce and mozzarella; and truffle pizza topped with mozzarella, mushrooms, arugula, shaved parmesan, and truffle oil; among others.
Available for lunch-only on the menu are the multigrain salad of farro, quinoa, shrimp, fennel, cucumber, tomatoes, and herbs with lemon vinaigrette; fish sandwich made with locally-caught fish, arugula, pickled red onion, and seaweed aioli; pork sausage burger featuring house-made sausage, Gruyere cheese, pickles, lettuce, and honey mustard aioli; fried chicken sandwich topped with buttermilk thighs, shredded lettuce, pickles, and Calabrian chili mayo; and the PB cheeseburger made with Wagyu beef, muenster cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and remoulade sauce. Each of the lunch dishes is served with a choice of chips or salad.
Landini talked about why he picked PB for Scuderie Italia.
“We are centrally located on Garnet and I really love the energy in PB,” he said. “I also loved the (circular) shape of that building when I saw it was closed. I knew it would be a big challenge to remodel because of the shape. The first thing I did was open it up by putting in a sliding doorway. Because it was round, we had to work really hard to make the doors slide completely open.”
Landini’s business strategy is uncomplicated.
“I believe in keeping simplicity in the food, and in being honest and loyal with your employee team,” he said. “I won’t change that. Many of my employees have been with me for double-digit years. Really, my success is due to them. They’re the ones, every day, who make sure the food is served in the right way. Having a good team around you, that’s what allows you to be a success.”
Where: 1525 Garnet Ave.
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, noon-11 p.m. Fridays-Sundays.