Nothing embodies the spirit of the true Italian-American tradition in the US more than our country’s Italian-owned restaurants.  There is a general warmth, familiarity and good, authentic cooking that fills each of these establishments- it’s unmistakanle.

Baci in San Diego, is no exception.

Thanks to Brittany Carlisi, who introduced me to this old-school Italian standard, Baci is one of my favorite places to meet up with a colleague for lunch.  The waitstaff has been there for years, and the chef clearly loves what he’s doing, as evidenced in the ingredient-driven food, and honest, well-executed dishes.

In fact, we can’t start a meal without ordering a simple appetizer of local Ricci di Mare (Sea Urchin), served simply alongside a bit of garlicky toast.

The chef also uses this delicate and super-fresh shellfish in a simple spaghetti- nothing more than salt, pepper, garlic and the freshest sea urchin La Jolla’s coastline has to offer.  Bravo!

What to pair with such ocean-fresh salinity?  A wine with a mineral backbone to match- not to mention a searing acidity that will highlight the rich, creamy texture of the ricci.  We loved both dishes with Cottanera’s “Barbazzale Bianco”, a fresh, zippy young wine made with Insolia grapes from the Etna area in Sicilia.  This wine is stainless-steel fermented, lively and full of energetic green fruit.  It has a salty edge that compliments seafood dishes, and an underlying volcanic minerality that keeps everything interesting.

About The Author

I love all things Italian: the beautiful country of Italia, the Italians themselves, the language, the food… and above all, I love Italian wine. The people I meet in my charmed life are fascinating, the wines are extraordinary. I needed a special place like this to write about them, and to remember them.

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2 Responses

  1. Molly @paprikapinot

    I like to think that I am an adventurous eater, but the sea urchin looks very intimidating! Is it cooked? Is it soft and spreadable? Is it salty? I am very curious about this interesting treat from the sea.

    • Joanie Karapetian, Italian Wine Geek

      You are certainly adventurous! This sea urchin is not cooked- just opened by the chef so that we could spoon it onto the bread! It is most definitely soft, spreadable and creamy. There is a fresh, salty sweetness to it- delicious mixed into hot pasta or risotto even! If you’re curious to taste it, you can sometimes order it in a sushi restaurant where it is called “uni” in japanese. Maybe during your next trip to San Francisco? 🙂


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