Beyond the heavy glass doors of De Medici lies a wonderland of delight and extravagance. Once inside, wrapped in the cozy embrace of one of the booths, guests are welcomed to linger over an amazing meal and absorb an evening of tantalizing experiences. Under the insistence of owner Salavatore Vitale, many of the signature dishes are still created table-side. The soft rosy glow and intimate ambiance of the dining room is punctuated by the bright flashes of flambéing Bananas Foster and Steak Diane. Specializing in both Northern and Southern Italian cuisine, Chef Ricardo Macias charms the palates of many with his supreme offerings of mouthwatering fare. By serving recipes passed down through generations of Italians, De’Medici caters to guests with deft familiarity and graciously serves up a comforting taste of home.Read More ...
Alongside the bustle of downtown, oblivious to the endless rush of cars and tourists alike, De’Medici occupies its coveted 5th Avenue location with humble pride. The restaurant’s understated elegance with its crisp white table linens and savory scents emanating from the kitchen shamelessly attract the attention of hungry diners. In the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, this dining establishment offers guests a chance to escape the ordinary as they can be transported through its thick glass doors to another plane of time. With specializations in both Northern and Southern Italian dishes, as well as a foray into steak and seafood offerings, De’Medici provides patrons an opportunity to sample the many different faces of authentic Italian cooking.
With our heels clicking lightly down the street, my companion and I approach the entrance with nothing short of giddiness. Grasping the large brass handle, we push the doors open and enter noiselessly into a small receiving room. Suggestive of venues on the East Coast, where winter weather encourages guests to escape the cold, we appreciate the front room and momentarily examine the small wooden host desk and thick reservation book. Looking up, we are greeted immediately by the smiling face of our hostess and are introduced warmly to General Manager Mario Valerio. His gracious manner and friendly demeanor assures me that our evening at De’Medici will be nothing short of extraordinary.
Exiting the foyer, we are bathed in the rosy glow of soft lighting and simple splendor. Occupying a larger space than would appear from the outside, the walls and high ceilings are covered with lightly sketched frescos. Situated in the back left corner is the bar, where the soft hues of green and blue light scatter on the walls and glitter off an impressive display of liquor bottles. Tendrils of curling ivy cascade from elevated wall sconces and small, intimate tables grace the front of the floor. Situated grandly under the impressive wrought iron and crystal chandelier is an enormous curved dining table. Reminiscent of past holidays enjoyed at home with the family, I cannot help but imagine how an evening spent around its circular expanse would create an unforgettable night of memories.
Awoken from my momentary daydream, I slide sideways into the large semicircular embrace of their grand presidential booth. The table is covered in a heavy white cloth and silver chargers gleam invitingly at each setting. Our server, Juan, comes over and introduces himself. Friendly and attentive, he takes our drink order with a practiced air and makes his way towards the bar. As I finger through the menu I discover the variety of dishes offered by Executive Chef Ricardo Macias. I take my time perusing the extensive pages, glancing up occasionally to watch the bustling front room and beautiful banquet area.
Catching my eye, as I survey the room, is a large wine aerator being utilized at a neighboring booth. Tall and stately, the graceful arch of its silver neck supports a triangular reservoir that nests a small crystal globe. As I watch, the server artfully uncorks a bottle; and holding it aloft, pours a thin stream over at the bulb, which now I see is filled with water. This, he explains, chills the wine to the perfect temperature as well as enhances its bouquet. As the entire bottle quickly fills the contraption I marvel at the novelty of a table side service that they have so cleverly turned into a show.
Turning back to the menu, my guest and I decide on an excellent sampling of dishes and smile as our drinks are quickly brought to the table. I sip my cocktail and enjoy the sensation that only a crisp, clean Tanqueray martini can produce. A touch of vermouth and a wash of juniper berries clear my head and only give way when overpowered by the briny tartness of the skewered olive I pop into my mouth. Looking over at my companion, I see her sip a shining flute of Prosecco. It glows golden in the rosy light and tiny bubbles snake their way up the sides of the glass. Accepting a taste, I find it cool, refreshing, and exceedingly dry; the lemony flavors dance on my taste buds and delight the senses.
As the appetizers are served, I gaze at the vibrant colors and exceptional care put into each dish. Looking down, I carefully inspect the overlapping slices of tender Beef Carpaccio placed invitingly on the plate in front of me. Arranged in a circular fashion around a small pile of julienned arugula, they are finished with a light dressing of truffle oil and a generous sprinkling of capers. Agreeing that the quick crack of pepper offered by Juan is the perfect addition; I slide my fork under one of the delicate medallions and admire its beautiful pink color and scent. I sigh as velvety, beefy flavor overwhelms my palate and the heady aroma of truffles fills my nose. The fine marbling of fat that I first observed when the dish arrived becomes even more evident as each bite of meaty, salty goodness melts almost instantaneously on my tongue. The peppery spiciness of the arugula and the explosive pop of each caper add a well-appreciated freshness to the dish.
Slowly savoring the last bits of beef, a steaming bowl of Minestrone soon catches my attention. I place my spoon into the hot, thick soup, and scoop up a generous portion of carrots, onion, and zucchini. I bring the rich broth up to my lips and gently blow it cool before carefully taking a taste. The pungent aroma of garlic and spices envelopes my senses and transports me to childhood memories of a cozy winter evening spent at home. Savoring the earthy undertones and layers of flavor, I understand why minestrone means “the big soup.” It is not only full bodied, but also built upon a classic mixture of seasonal vegetables and kitchen staples.
As I sip the delicious last drop of soup, Juan appears wheeling a small cart upon which sits our Salad De'Medici. White pillows of mozzarella, creamy avocado, woody hearts of palm, and fresh arugula sit in a bright pile on the small clean plate. Accompanying the dish are two small vials of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil meant to dress the salad. Carefully applying a light drizzle of each, I eagerly dive into the crisp green leaves and tender cheese. The mozzarella is farm-fresh and creamy, while the hearts of palm add an interesting contrast in texture. Small shavings of parmesan add a welcomed element of salt and also serve to season the smoothness of the avocado. Finally, the acidity provided by the tang of balsamic vinegar is the ideal component to finish the dish.
Gliding over, our server arrives bearing a circular white plate filled to the brim with steaming Lasagna and Marinara Sauce. The plate is hot to the touch and covered with a dash of green parsley. Crumbly islands of Parmesan cheese melt slightly into the top of the pasta as I carefully trim off a corner with my fork. Cautiously sampling it, I find that the pasta is still al dente, filled with luxurious ricotta and stringy, melted mozzarella. The exhilarating flavors of tomato and basil rush onto my tongue and combine beautifully with the rich cheeses. Although the flavors of the vegetarian lasagna are already wonderful, Mario brings out a small bowl of slow cooked, Bolognese sauce as a happy addition. He lovingly explains the history of the sauce and how it was created by the grandmother of restaurant owner, Salvatore Vitale. This particular recipe was handed down through generations of Italians, he says, until finally it was perfected by Vitale’s grandmother and served every Sunday as a family tradition. The sauce combines beef and veal with tomato, spices, and garlic to create a mixture that is both-full-bodied, rustic, and hearty. Such deep flavors and excellent texture can only be obtained through the long process of careful slow cooking.
Already content, our anticipation heightens as the promise of sampling the Chef's signature dish, the Sole Portofino, is now at hand. Baked to a crisp golden brown, the sole is stuffed with a velvety mixture of lobster, crab, and shrimp, and is served with sides of steamed asparagus, creamed spinach, and cinnamon-scented baby carrots. The carefully piped ring of mashed potatoes on the edge of the dish makes for a plate that is both visually stunning and delicious. Breaking into the delicate filet, I am rewarded with forkfuls of flaky fish and luscious, creamy lobster. The firm consistency of the accompanying vegetables is a perfect foil to the savory, tender nature of the sole.
The Ahi, ordered by my companion, provides a complete change in flavor and balances our selection wonderfully. Straying away from the creamy, heavy richness of the lobster, crab, and shrimp stuffing, the tuna is plated upon a bed of Arborio rice prepared in a risotto style. Upon the first cut into the steak, we find that the inside is still beautifully pink and moist. With tiny black and white sesame seeds crusting the exterior, each slice of buttery and tender Ahi is a stimulating lesson in contrast and texture. Seared rare, this 8oz steak is accompanied by grilled asparagus brushed in extra virgin olive oil, and is served with a side of a hoisin-based glaze. With this, diners are introduced to an even more complex palate. Once paired with a sip of Prosecco, the addition of citrus and bubbles evokes yet another layer of flavor and enhances the dish’s already refreshing notes.
Satiated by a delicious surfeit of food and drink, I am surprised that I still have a desire for something sweet to finish off the meal. Taking up Mario’s recommendation, my guest and I order the Strawberries Martinique and are rewarded with an excellent tableside show. Our server Juan arrives bearing a large bowl filled with a mountain of shaved ice and fresh, long stemmed strawberries. He wheels a cart tableside and proceeds to demonstrate his talent for showmanship. Holding up a large silver bowl, he whisks together brown sugar and cream into a smooth billowy cloud. Then, picking up a bottle of Myers Dark Rum, he winks mischievously and adds a fair amount into the mixture. Still whisking, he streams in Orange Curacao and completes the concoction with a generous measure of Gran Marnier. With a grand show of long pours and smiles, he carefully fills two crystal stemmed goblets with cream, and watches with pleasure as we dip in the fruit and take our first bite. Dazzled by the playful nature of the dish and appreciative of its cool smooth consistency, I am amazed at how the alcohol enhances the nature sweetness of the berries. Light, airy, and fresh, the strawberries and cream is a whimsical adult indulgence that combines the pleasures of an after dinner drink with fruity dessert.
With dessert quickly finished, I lean back to luxuriate in comfortable afterglow of a wonderful meal. Resting my head against the tall leather back of the booth, I am surprised to see Mario making his way over to our table. Holding out a frosted bottle of canary yellow liqueur, he places three tall crystal shot glasses on the table and fills them with sparkling Limoncello. He explains how it is customary in Italian culture to enjoy a sip of the palate-cleansing liquid at the end of the meal. More than happy to accept, I hold the glass up and toast; remembering all the lovely events of the night and thankful I could spend them with such welcoming company. The flavor is bright and clean with a warm citrusy finish.
Shaking hands with Mario and exchanging words of gratitude, I slide slowly out of the tall booth and breathe in the lingering flavors of lemon. I float towards the front of the room and once again pass though the wide glass doors. Glancing over my shoulder, I smile as my feet lead me out onto the streets and back into the wild din of downtown. As the sun sets on another warm day in San Diego, the cool green awning of De’Medici catches the last rays of the fading light and glows softly, continually beckoning diners inside with promises of hot food and warm hospitality. Ciao!
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Great food and excellent service. A little pricey, but overall it was worth it.
Our dining experience at De Medici was nothing short of spectacular. The entire staff was very polite and our waiter Juan made the evening all that much better. The Caesar salad made to order at your table was an event in it's self not to be missed.The main course was beautifully prepared and well presented. I look forward to dining at De Medici in the future as this is one of the best dining experiences and best meals I have had in quite some time.
Absolutely delicious, with incredible service! Could not have picked a better spot. Thank you De Medici.
If you love great service paired with exceptional food in the traditional style this is the place for you. We happened to order the tableside preparations of Ceasar Salad and their sumptuous Bananas Foster plus had bottles of wine decanted and it's like watching a Vegas show. This was a "business" dinner and our clients thought this was one of the more memorable meals in a long time. Big favorites were the swordfish carpaccio and good 'ol spaghetti and meatballs (mixed with filet mignon !).
Called ahead and told the hostess that I would eating there after I proposed; I didn't get the atypical San Diego service response of, "why do I care?". She immediately went through some options and when I showed up there was a bottle of champagne on the table and we were seated at an elevated booth with a view of the whole restaurant. Juan, our server, provided perfect service. Definitely a great place to bring a group for great food or to impress a date.
Best place in San Diego!!!
We really enjoyed this restaurant. They had a great menu. We had amazing beef carpaccio and excellent lobster bisque to start. Our party had veal and pastas for our mains main and they were all excellent too. Service was first class and the ambience was perfect for a traditional Italian restaurant. We would definitely go back. I really liked the arrangement De Medici has with Bacchus Wines, which is on G Street in San Diego. If you buy your wine at Bacchus, they will put a sticker on it and you can take the wine into De Medici (or one of the other participating restaurants in town) and you aren't charged corkage. Keith, Cathy and Lauren from Canada
was a great experience and I would defintely eat there again!
By far one of if not thee best places to enjoy the slpender that is Italin cooking. Atmosphere and all, I felt as if we were in una casa di familiari. Would recomend De Medici to anyone who would also want the same experience.
Great place for romantic dinner. Service and food were both great!
If you want the best American ciusine in San Diego, this is it! Having been born and raised in San Diego, I know the restaurants well. There are many good ones but this one beats them all. They have everything you could possibly want on the menu, and it's ALL good! The service and atmosphere is excellent and relaxing. The waiters know their stuff and many dishes are prepared at your table. I've never had anything there that I didn't like. The old chef from the "Star of the Sea Room" on the wharf brought his dishes there many years ago so if you like fish, this is also the stop for you. It is the best restaurant in San Diego, hands down! Dr. B.
The food was amazing, fast service, beautiful ambience. Best Italian seafood in town. I will return.
Great food, service and atmosphere.
My wife and I had a wonderful meal at De Medici. The wait staff was very accommodating, friendly, and happy to serve. The food was exceptional, we have recommended De Medici to many friends and family members already. This place is a don't miss!
Wait staff is VERY attentive and the food is incredible. The atmosphere makes it feel like if you looked at the table next to you, Sinatra might be seated there.
My Wife and I had our 9th Anniversary Dinner here and EVERYTHING was wonderful, we have children and usually do not have many opportunities to go out to dinner alone, I chose this restaurant after checking out the menus and plan to go back again when I can. Our Server and busboy were very attentive without being annoying. The menu is huge and it was hard to choose, I wanted everything, our server made exellent suggestions and we were impressed with his food knowlwdge. We were offered a booth or table (nice to offer), the table settings are very nice and the ambiance was plesent.. I would highly recommend this fine dining establishment to family and friends. Thank you De Medici for a happy anniversary dinner!
De Medici is such a great find in the Gaslamp. Delicious food and the service was impecable! Making a reservation through SDRestaurants.com made the dining process seemless and with no wait! The menu has a great selection at varying price ranges which was nice for our large group. I highly recommend the "pasta pillows" as they were so light and yummy!
Terrific Dining and Romantic Atmosphere
I took my wife to De Medici's last night for her birthday. I made the reservation through sandiegorestaurants.com with a note mentioning the occasion. That was enough to warrant a man in a suit opening the door for us, a "happy birthday" from the attendant at the computer, and a very comfortable, elevated booth seat.
We also received a complimentary piece of delicious tiramisu with a lit sparkler for desert. The dimly lit dining area was extremely elegant with wall paintings, chandeliers, and plant life. We were immediately given water and a wine menu. My wife loved the chianti. I only drink water, but my glass was refilled nearly every time I took a sip.
Bread and butter was brought out while we looked at our menu. It was warm, soft, and delicious, and replenished every time we grabbed a roll. I hesitated to order a salad when I saw the price of the Caesar, but it was well worth it after the dressing and salad were prepared right in front of our table, found to be extremely appetizing, and in just the right portions for the two of us.
I ordered the scampi vesuvio and my wife the agnolotti alla panna. I've never seen such large jumbo shrimp. The presentation was flawless. I had to try my wife's. It melted in my mouth...and such delicious cream sauce. Again the portions were perfect, filling us completely with no leftovers. Fresh grated cheese was offered with everything. I don't know how we fit the tiramisu in, but one piece was enough for the both of us. I've never had a better piece of cake.
My wife has visited Italy on a couple of occasions, and actually resided there for a short period of time. In her opinion, De Medici was of better atmosphere, quality, and selection than any restaurant she's ever attended in Italy. De Medici features a superior staff, delicious food, and fair prices. I tipped generously and stayed right on budget. Our full meal with wine was under $90.
De Medici was a wonderful dining experience all around. The atmosphere set the impression of elegance and held an aire of old Italy. In short, it was the perfect setting for a quiet dinner for two. One of the most noticeable aspects of De Medici was the excellence of the service.
Upon entering, we were greeted cordially and taken promplty to our reserved table by the hostess. Our server, Regina, was very knowledgeable with regards to the menu and wine selection. Warm dinner rolls were brought out to our table immediately and our water glasses were never empty. It was made quiet obvious that the staff was more than concerned with meeting our needs. We ordered the Linguinni fra Diavolo paired with a glass of the De Medici Merlot and the Gnocchi Ponte Vecchio. The Linguinni was prepared al dente with a deliciously spicy marinara sauce. The calamari was flavorful and not overcooked (as often is the case). The pesto sauce on the Gnocchi was rich with garlic, in classic Italian tradition, but the pasta "dumplings" were a bit heavy. For dessert, we shared the divine New York style cheesecake drizzled with chocolate sauce and topped with a ripe raspberry. We finished off the evening with a smooth cappucino and herbal chai tea.
The entire meal was very reasonably priced and worth every penny. We would highly recommend De Medici for a delicious meal with superb service in a comfortable, romantic atmosphere.
Excellent, knowledgeable And attentive service with a touch of humor. Food was relish! We would recommend and be sure to go again when we visit.
Wonderful meal and Time!!--
My husband and I had a great experience here on our one year wedding anniversary. They surprised us at the end of the meal with a delicious Terimisu for desert. Thank you for a great meal and experience!
Our kids' meals were great, the stuffed sole was the best ever and they make the lightest, best, alfredo sauce ever!! Really enjoyed the whole experience, very comfortable, yummy, warm, friendly. Great desserts :)
I have eaten here three times and always enjoy myself. Some of the main courses need a little work, but the service and ambiance are so nice, the wine selection so thorough, and most of the food so good, that you forgive a few imperfections.
The food, service and ambience were delightful. Will definitely dine here again.
Our first experience at DeMedici's was excellent. You couldn't get more attention than we got that first night. Not so this last outing. Poor service, the food was fair at best. That is why as the old saying goes "You can never go back" and we won't.