Antico Toscano

1288 University Avenue, San Diego CA 92103

$25 - $50

At Antico Toscano in Hillcrest, simple food is prepared traditionally, often from the owner’s generation-old family recipes. The widely varied menu is surprisingly reasonable, and dishes emphasize quality, fresh ingredients, and seasonal offerings while imparting a hint of Italy’s history. The Italian Tapas menu is a delightful treat, offering small plates of traditional appetizers and main dishes. Equally so is the selection of wine flights, allowing diners to sample several domestic or Italian wines. Seated among the Italian antiques adorning the walls of this quaint and inviting trattoria, diners will feel seeped in Italian tradition.

Antico Toscano

Hidden in the strip malls of University Ave, in the heart of Hillcrest, Antico Toscano rivals some of the finest Italian cuisine in San Diego at a bargain price. A charming atmosphere with walls adorned with wine racks, faux bricks, drawings of classic Italian villages, and rustic antiques to resemble shelves you might find in a Tuscan villa. The cheery ambiance is conducive to both family gatherings and romantic evenings.

Owner and Manager, Luca, is a delightful and welcoming host. Several years after he emigrated to the states, Luca's dream of opening his own restaurant has become a reality. Critics and gastronomes agree that one of the benchmarks of an Italian restaurant is Bolognese sauce. Toscano's excels. Luca, determined to serve the best, flew his mother over from Italy to teach him the family Bolognese secret (a savory mixture of beef and Italian sausage in the rich tomato sauce).

Antico Toscano's obsession with the freshest ingredients distinguishes it from similar restaurants. Most notably, Luca imports fresh Porcini mushrooms from Oregon and palmetto (heart of palm) from the Islands.

To start, the 'Carpaccio di Carne' appetizer is a beautiful and tasty blend of nutty arugola, heart of palm, lightly garnished with white truffle oil and lemon juice, laid on sheets of carpaccio and topped with leaves of parmesan. Carpaccio is a paper-thin slice of high-quality, rare beef. Toscano's slice is from a choice top round cut of beef.

Antico Toscano's salads are a steal in price and a gift in portions. The 'Insalata Di Pomodori' excels in its simplicity: featuring large slices of juicy tomatoes dressed with black olives, diced red onions, fresh basil leaves, crumbly feta cheese, olive oil and sprinkled with oregano. Also try the 'Insalata di Spinaci': spinach, fresh mushrooms, prosciutto and gorgonzola, dressed with a balsamic rosemary vinaigrette.

My favorite, the 'Tortellini alla Panna e Prosciutto', is a veal tortellini dish perfected to include a stuffing of prosciutto, al dente green peas and chunks of ham in a succulent cream sauce. The 'Risotto Mediterraneo' is the chef's favorite. Packed with mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, the risotto is covered in a chardonnay cream sauce and topped with large, crispy shrimp.

If you like veal scaloppini, don't miss the 'Scaloppine San Remo'. It's chock-full of pine nuts, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, in a delicious white-wine cream sauce. The pine nuts are lightly toasted to accentuate the flavor. The 'Filetto al Porcini', an Angus beef filet mignon sauted in a white wine, garlic with plenty of fresh Porcini mushroom, is simply superb.

Another benchmark of a good Italian restaurant is the traditional dessert, 'Tiramisu'. Yet, again, Toscano proves it can more than hold its own with the most expensive Italian restaurants in town. A difficult treat to master, Toscano's Tiramisu is served as an individual staked round cake soaked in cappuccino and dusted with coco, perfect for their fresh cappuccino. Try the 'Panna Cotta', a vanilla, gelatinous dessert with a hint of orange and garnished with raspberry and mango coulis sauces.

The wines are fairly priced and offer a good selection of Italian wines by both the glass and the bottle to complement the menu offerings. Forget Chardonnay and for a crisp white, try the Zemmer Trentino ($6/glass). While I preferred the Farnese Sangiovese from Umbria ($6/glass) both the Colli Senesi Chianti ($9/glass) and the Castell d'Oro from Tuscany ($7/glass) are both very good and all three will pair well with any red course. The 1998 Barbera Ruvei by The Marchesi di Barolo from Piedmont is excellent. For a special occasion, the Owner's Cellar offers premium wines at reasonable prices.

To complete the experience, Antico Toscano is equipped with an efficient, well-trained, knowledgeable and attentive wait staff.

The initial wages of a dishwasher were not appealing to Antonio McGann, now executive chef at Antico Toscano. Although he has been in the restaurant business since he was 15, Antonio's mastery of the kitchen went virtually unknown until his debut, winning gold at the California Culinary Olympics in 1998. Since then, he has put a youthful spin on the Italian food scene in San Diego.

Antico Toscano adds fine Italian to the mix of Hillcrest's variety of restaurants. With excellent service, the freshest ingredients, outstanding food, and welcoming ambiance, Toscano is a bargain for fine dining and should not be missed.

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  Business Info

  • Address: 1288 University Avenue, San Diego CA 92103
  • Cross Street: Corner of University, Richmond ( behind Heidi
  • Location: Hillcrest & Uptown | Hillcrest
  • Cuisine: Italian | Pasta |
  • Cost: | Inexpensive
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Unknown
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Meals Served: Lunch | Dinner |
  • Parking: None |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard |
  • Corkage Fee: 12.00 | Per each bottle
  • Phone: 619.298.2768
  • Features: None,
  • Occasion: None,


  Business Hours

Reservations Available

Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.  
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.  
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.  
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.  
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.  
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.  
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.  











Customer Reviews & Ratings

It gets more incredible...  

If you are thinking about an Italian restaurant, then choose Antico. Don't think..go, make reservations right now. The ambiance is perfect for those who like extraordinary pasta and incredible sauces. No over use of heavy creams just authentic, subtle and wonderful creations that dance on fresh pasta like no other place in town. Besides, amazing foods--lamb lasagna -- rissottos to die for -- are enhanced by just incredible waite service...attentive, not intrusive and wonderful...the wine flights are wonderful as well!!! If you are a fan of REAL italian food...Antico is the place.

Cosa Meravigliosa  

After a day at the zoo, my girlfriend and I headed to Antico Toscano. The title of my review translated means "Wonderful Thing" and thats what it was. We showed up a couple hours early of the reservation I had originally made, in which we were seated immediately. Service form the instant we walked in the door was outstanding, they do an excellent job at making your party not only feel welcomed but honored to have you as their guest. Greeting us at our table was fresh baked bread(with of course the olive oil and balsamic vinegar combination of Italian tradition), two elegant glasses of water and a carafe of refills. After some fresh steaming bread we got our appetizer(Bruschetta Al Pomodoro), after much enjoyment of those I got my salad and she got her Pere E Gorgonzola which was superb(snagged a bite or two or three) as well as the salad(I know a good salad is hard for me to believe too), then after some more hot bread came our way, came our entrees, mine set my mouch to a drooling state(Filetto In Camicia Ai Tre Pepi, which, not to be crude, gave me a perverbial mouth-gasm) I ate about 2/3 and decided to save the rest for another day. She ordered pasta(Farfalline Al Gorgonzola E Prosciutto) which she said "Wow, homemade pasta!" she was amazed that they didnt use dried bags of pasta, she has a very Italiano familia, so she has some knowledge of the stuff. After enjoying the meal so much I had to leave room for dessert, we ordered the Tiramisu, which was a perfectly light yet rich combination, and the Creme Brulee, which I am now in love with, they used a very light tasty cream so as to not make you feel bloated after(The Best Creme Brulee I have ever had!!!), after even a surprising discount I couldn't stop talking about this ristorante, to friends. family, strangers, anyone that mentioned food got to here about my fantastic experience at Antico Toscano... and now the readers;) If ever in the San Diego area please check this place out, and Luca thank you for an awesome meal,experience,night,food everything at your place was splendido, hope to see you soon.

Excellent Experience  

GREAT food & service :)  

The restaurant had a beautiful atmosphere, lighting was a bit dim, it was not too loud to loud.The food was delicious,dessert TIRAMASU was delicious. My boyfriend and I could not stop raving about what great service we had. I then realized it was the owner that was our server. Everyone else there was also very welcoming.The price was reasonable. The food and service we were both very satisfied defiantly recommend it.


My family and I visited San Diego this past week. Coming from Indiana, we weren't sure about where to dine on our first night. provided me with a host of possibilities. I zeroed in on Antico Toscano. We were not disappointed. This service, food, and ambience were excellent.


We went here and were absolutely floored by the service as well as the food. It was amazing! The Best! The owner took care of our table and was very helpful. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone! Try the homemade Parpadelle pasta dish or the Quattro Formaggio pizza.

Best Yet!!!  

Compares to the authenticity of European dining; atmosphere, service, and the food were all wonderful. Truly the best eggplant ever!

superb cuisine  

don't judge this restaurant by it's strip mall location......the food, service and atmosphere were all first rate...the presentation of each dish was excellent and the taste of each was a true cuilnary delight.....would recommend it to anyone seeking a way above average dining experience....


Excellent food, excellent service! It was also very nice that the server had much knowledge about the wine. His recommendation was great! We enjoyed the whole experience.

What an anniversary!  

Had an absolutely amazing meal on October 8 for our 14th anniversary. Had the pleasure of having Luca as our server and host, and he made sure everything was absolutely perfect. The polenta was outstanding, the lamb shank with goat cheese masked potato was flawless, and of course the Tiramisu was the best my wife had ever eaten. I'm not a huge Tiramisu fan, but I do highly recommend the Key Lime Martini..not at all sweet like you would think....Service was very VERY good, food was outstanding, and the restaurant itself it truly a hidden gem. I will be making the drive from Temecula A LOT!...Thank you, Luca!

Authentic, Great Italian  

I have just recently came back from Italy and this is the best Italian restaurant that I have eaten at since returning. The atmosphere was quiet on the patio, with the soft light of a candle, wine great I definitly will be back and will recommend to all!!!! I actually ordered the wrong entree and it was fish that I recieved by my fault of course, I don't normally eat fish but I tried it this time and man was it good. Thank you Antico Toscano Tim O'Connor


After reading the great reviews here, I met my husband for lunch on a Tuesday. Much to our surprise, for the entire time we were there (about an hour and 15 min.) there were no other diners. What a shame as this is a fantastic restaurant! Everything was wonderful from the appetizer to the salads and both of our pastas. Service was very attentive without being intrusive. We will definitely return and bring friends for dinner next time so we can linger longer! Thank you for doing it right!!

Great food, Great atmosphere  

My fiance and I visited Antico Toscano for dinner on July 5, 2005. We had looked the restaurant up on this site and were drawn in by the menu and the rating it received. The only thing I don't understand is how it only got 4 out of 5 stars when it most certainly deserved 5. The service was wonderful, our server was John and he was attentive, friendly, and funny. The food was just out of this world, I absolutely loved the Tortellini with veal and my fiance was thrilled with his Risotto. For dessert, John recommended the Tiramasu, which I've never really been fond of, but it was so delicious. I've never had Tiramasu like that, if I could find it out here (though I know I can't) I'd have it more often. I have gone so far as to advise friends of mine to visit Antico Toscano when they make the trek to the San Diego area.

Authentic Italian Food  

Excellent menu. Good atomsphere.

It was good  

The day after Thanksgiving, I took my husband, my grandma in law, my mother in law, my brother, and his girlfriend to this restaurant to dine. The atmosphere was comfortable and gorgeous, and the food was just fantastic. The server was Luca himself and he had great customer service, recommanding a bottle of wine which we all liked. I'd definetely recommand this restaurant to others, I had a very good time. :)


This restaurant keeps getting better and better. Service is friendly and accomodating. This restaurant is filled with delightful salads and wonderful sauces. We love the scallops and risotto. Take a ride out of the gaslamp district to a great find in hillcrest


Remember when Fio's was the talk of the town...this was nearly 10 years ago...remember when il forniao just moved in? Well, there is a more authentic alternative...its Antico. Luca has done a fine job of feeding the truem Toscana foods to us food junkies. His wine list is also great. You need to go there...alot. And besides, you don't yet have to wait in long lines...maybe by Valentine's Day you get your butt over there now..and ENJOY!!!


After reading a few reviews of Antico Toscana, I decided to drive down from O'side and try it. I wasn't disappointed. Luca was a marvelous host and made me feel at home. I asked for his recommendations(crab/tomato bisque, beef tortillini) and was amazed at the taste and texture. A tasty,light tiramisu topped off a great early evening dinner. It was well worth the drive..I will be back.

My New Favorite Restaurant  

The best part was the food. Everything was so delicious... best lasagne i have ever had (sorry mom). I want to go back there every weekend so i can try every dish! Best kept secret in San Diego and my new favorite restaurant.


This is the greatest little restaurant in town. The food is mouth watering good. The staff is excellent and very friendly. Great experience. I would recommend this restaurant to all my friends and I have. The prices are very reasonable. But the best is the food that just melts in your mouth. JUST FANTASTIC!!!!


This restaurant is amazing. Not something you would expect in a strip mall in Hillcrest. From the food, to the wine selection, to the outstanding service, Antico Toscano has it all. Everything on the menu is a guaranteed hit. It is wonderful when you can escape the crowds of downtown and have a superb dinner in such a charming restaurant. This is definitely my favorite restaurant in all of San Diego!

wow wow wow  

The Filet Mignon is melt in your mouth incredible! My veal was amazing, but my dates filet was like a dream. The prices aren't bad for the quality, and the service is great.

Best hidden secret  

Set in a Hillcrest strip mall, this place has simple, quality italian food. Soups, salads and pasta are excellent and the variety please everyone. You can't complain about the afforable prices either.


First off, I will start by saying that upon our arrival we were greeted by Luca, with a warm dose of hospitality, like we had just entered his own home. The dinner was delicious and the service was impeccable. Get past the exterior of the strip mall and you are in for a wonderfull treat. I can see my wife and I dinning there on a regular basis. Thanks Luca!!!

Excellent Food!!  

My husband and I had lunch. Salads, appetizers, pastas were so delicious! We will come back again!

What a surprise!!!!  

The food was delicious, the waiter very gentle and the ambience is simply wonderful. This is the best Italian restaurant in town definitely!!!!!!!! I will for sure be back again. Thanx ANTICO

glorious italian food  

antico toscano was a delightful surprise. From the moment one enters the beautifully decorated and intimate restaurant, one finds a true taste of authentic italian, from the gracious owner to the professional waiters and ofcourse the talented chef. The food is incredibly delicious and light. My group enjoyed the variety of salads and both pasta dishes and entrees. Save room for desserts as they are wonderful! You will not be disappointed in this quaint and charming restaurant. A great break from the Italian restaurants in Gaslamp. Enjoy!


My dinner was wonderful. The food was unique and the ambiance was truly old world. The experience reminds me of being in a small trattoria en Northern Italy. -M.O.


I went to Antico Toscano with some friends for the first time and had an absolutely wonderful time. The food was incredible and the service was outstanding. I took my husband back for a romantic evening and it met my our every expectations.

Best Strip Mall Dining Ever!  

I made the reservations for my husband and I based on the other reviews on this site. When my husband and I parked our car in the strip mall that Antico Toscano is located in, he was kind of thrown off. However, once we walked in we were in another world. Antico Toscano has a nice ambience and great decor. We sat outside where views of street traffic were prevalent... just breathtaking (LOL). Really, that was the only off thing. We chose to sit outside because it was a bit more private. My husband and I just kind of laughed about our "beautiful view" -- it didn't affect our positive take on Antico Toscano. Overall, the service was fantastic and the food delish. I would say that my husband is kind of hard to please, and he was VERY impressed with the homemade quality of the food, as was I. The wait staff checked back on us just the right amount of times. We never had to flag them down. However, my husband's second glass of wine did take a while to arrive (like 15 minutes), but they comped that glass (we didn't make a fuss or anything for them to do this --just good customer service). A plus was that they brought a slice of cheesecake out, as we were out celebrating my birthday. ;o) Don't let the strip mall location fool you! Antico Toscano is worth a visit! The only reason I gave it 4 stars is because it does lack the location/view of a 5 star restaurant. WE will be back!

Wonderful Evening  

My husband and I dined here for our anniversary. We had a reservation and were seated right away. Once seated they brought us complementary glasses of champagne as they were aware it was our anniversary. We ordered two tapas off of the menu - the pear with gorgonzola and crostini with sausage. Both were excellent. For our main course my husband ordered the Osso Buco and I had a sausage risoto. The risoto was a little undercooked but was still good. The Osso Buco was good as well. For dessert we had the tiramisu which was delicious. I typically do not like tiramisu but I may have changed my mind since this one was so good. We will definitely be returning here. Our dinner with wine, tapas, main entrees, dessert and coffee amounted to about $75. I also think they have a daily happy hour where you get 20% off the menu. It is hard to beat these prices!

Celebrating 20th wedding anniversary  

Arrived early for reservation, but were seated immediately and both host and waiter congratulated us on our anniversary. We were surprised by 2 complementary glasses of champagne and best wishes. Service and food were both very good. Fairly large menu and everything sounded delicious. Courses (tapas, soup, main course, dessert & coffee) were well scheduled – no rush and no long waits. Spent about $100 including wine and tip. I wouldn’t bring the kids, but as a couple we’d go back again.

Nice food nice People nice Service  

was a great experience from start to finish would recommend Antico Toscano very highly

Delicious from the day it opened.  

I have been visiting this restaurant ever since it opened many years ago. My friends and I did not think that it would last, given its location and the cost (which is not excessive per se, but is surprising for its locale). I am delighted that it is still around, as the food remains excellent. Fresh ingredients and delightful technique make for a happy mouth and a full belly. My only disappointment with my most recent visit was that they have reduced the number of vegetarian friendly meals. There were only three on the menu if you don't count the pizza. Also, the bread used to be much, much better. Our entree's were a delight, however, and the service was impeccable as it ever is. A must-try for Italian food.

Antico Tuscano  

Tucked away in a shopping mall, I did not expect much when we stopped in for dinner about 2 months ago. Only one other table was occupied at 6pm on a Friday night. I was very impressed with the freshness and authenticity of the food. I had the Bolegnese ragu and it was excellent! I have been back several times since and the food continues to impress me.

Excellent Price Performance  

Great service, great food, the manager is a service oriented person who makes you feel comfortable.

Good service and food  

The Carbonara is excellent as well as the Pasta e Fagioli soup. The wine list is very good and wine prices let you try good wines without having to pay too much for them. They keep getting new Italian wines every couple of weeks.

great service  

very nice place, really cozy. food is good not great but their service is EXCELLENT. servers will make you feel really comfortable.

very charming, great food  

Luca definitely knows how to make his guests feel like family! The food and the service are wonderful and I felt instantly transported back to Italy. Fun neighborhood too!

Family or Fancy  

This is a wonderful restaurant with a special ambiance. White linen tablecloths and good service makes it feel like a fancy restaurant. At the same time, it has a casual feel which makes it a perfect place to take the family. The food is very good and a good value.


I went to this restaurant based on the good ratings this restaurant had, but I expected more. Their minostrone wasn't all that good and their tiramisu was alrite. My favorite was their recommended red wines from Tuscana and their pesto cream sauce though.

I may try it again.  

My girlfriends and I decided to go here because a friend of mine and her husband had recommended the restaurant. Highlights: 1. The soup of the day was great. It was some butternut squash soup with wild rice and sausage. I will definitely go back for that. 2. Tirimasu -- seriously delish! 3. Nice Vegetarian menu selection Where they went wrong: 1. The calamari appetizer was so tough and hard that it was nearly impossible to cut it with the butter knife. Unfortunately, it had been overcooked and was seriously the worst I have tasted. 2. We had to remind them that we had ordered a glass of wine. I have been there twice and the last time they forgot to bring out our appetizer. Although well intentioned, they don't pay attention enough. The restaurant was not busy at all so there was no excuse. 3. My chicken capers sauce and veggies was drenched in butter. The whole plate was buttery. 4. When I took the dish to go, they handed me the to go container without a bag to carry it in and there was butter dripping on the outside so it got all over my hands. I requested a bag. Bottomline: I won't be rushing back immediately.

Special Presentation  

I decided to try this restaurant on a whim. It was after 9pm and appeared busy from the outside, luckily there still was plenty of tables available in this cozy place. Our server was very attentive and always with a smile (convincingly normal, not fake). That's always impressive. The service was excellent and the food was delicious. Reasonably priced for two under $60, the wine, no appetizer, entree and shared dessert. I did request for the waiter/server deliver surprise plane txs for my guest just after dinner, which wasn't forgotten and enthusiastically presented. This restaurant has its own taste of class for those who want to grab a romantic bite to eat.

Big Night meets Duke  

Greeted by sign saying "under new management". Always wonder if that's goo/bad. Unfortunate circumstances to be sitting next to Duke University Rowing club. Overwhelming atmosphere took away from the enjoyment of the food, which was excellent. Service was mediocre...not even desert/coffee was offered. Owner seemed preoccupied with ongoing negotiations with Duke while ushering friends to a more private back room. Staff not attentive. May give them a second chance.

Good food, strangely poor service  

My skewered lamb in a red wine and olive reduction sauce, served with whipped potatoes, was delicious. And the calimari was cooked almost perfectly--it's very easy to overcook, so the review below must have caught that night. But, good food notwithstanding, the evening was not so great. We had reserved a highchair, which we never got, so we spent the evening trying to control a toddler without the necessary equipment. Another family was monopolizing all 3 of them, and the staff was aparently unwilling to ask them to relinquish one, even though their child was no longer in it. We could have made more of a fuss, but that's not our style. Our waiter was friendly, but the guy who ground the pepper, and I think was responsible for bussing away dirty dishes, seemed unwilling to serve us. Maybe he didn't like kids, though ours were very quiet, though one was squirmy. As the dirty dishes built up, I had to ask repeatedly to get them removed. I'm not being fussy-- I mean I really had to ask repeatedly, and all of them never did get removed. Maybe an inter-staff conflict or something? If you are a couple or a foursome, and aren't concerned about super-prompt service, then this place is a great value. Very good food for the price. The deserts especially--best tiramesu I've ever had, and I've had some good ones. But for a larger group or kids, even well behaved ones, it is a risk, I would say. I hate to write this place off, because the food is so reliable. But I'll not go back with my family. I also would not go there with an important client, big date, anniversary or any of those occasions where you need the service to set the right tone. But if you just want great food and don't care that everything go smoothly, then this is a good choice.

You have to be kidding  

We picked this restaurant because it had a high rating, could only have had a more disappointing outing if the food had been poured in our laps. Although the appearance of the restaurant was quaint, and most of the staff was pleasant, nothing about the dining experience would ever make us return, and from the position on this list, I now expect that the rating system is flawed, meaning I will probably never take one of the recommendations again. This is not a good value for dining, nor a good use of your food dollar. Guests are ignored upon arrival, and when greeted, not warmly, there were nothing but excuses regarding the lack of reserved tables. Above all, the service was singularly horrible. With 20 table and only two servers, however, one should expect bad service. The tables were bused by two more individuals, one of whom was very pleasant and one of whom would literally pick up groups of items from the table without ever asking if we were ready, even with food still on the plates and utensils in our hands. Actually this may have been a blessing, as the food was equally bad. The Polenta, recommended and listed as a specialty of the house had an incredibly burnt taste with no visible charring, thus the restaurant is clearly using synthetic flavors to enhance the "traditional" Italian food. The mussels and clams were of the smallest size imaginable. The Eggplant Parmesan had more cheese than eggplant and the ravioli were, count them six in number. No plate we saw looked anything like the pictures this website shows. Don't waste your time or you'll be sorely disappointed as well.