With its simple storefront and unassuming strip mall location, Devine Pastabilities probably won’t attract the attention of a casual passerby. But take a look at the restaurant’s menu and you’re sure to be intrigued. Devine Pastabilities’ specialty is the “Torpasta,” a cleverly constructed meal consisting of a crisp, hollowed-out bread roll stuffed with your choice of Spaghetti, Lasagna, Fettuccine Alfredo, or another Italian entrée.
This unique twist on the classic Torpedo sandwich is the brainchild of Damien Devine, the founder and owner of Devine Pastabilities. As a fourth grader, Devine was a fan of spaghetti sandwiches – a messy meal consisting of saucy spaghetti between two pieces of bread. One day, Devine’s school cafeteria served spaghetti and Italian bread rolls for lunch. Rather than slurping spaghetti off his plate like many of the other kids, Devine hollowed out the bread roll and stuffed it with the pasta – discovering a mess-free way to enjoy his favorite food.
In 2003, two decades after his epiphany in the school cafeteria, Devine turned his fourth grade invention into a catering business. Once catering took off, Devine was able to open a restaurant on Midway Drive in Point Loma. Word has spread about the unique Italian pasta joint and the eatery now attracts a steady stream of patrons – including both regulars and those wanting to get their first taste of a Torpasta.
Devine Pastabilities’ reasonably-priced food and daily happy hour make it a great destination for college students or anyone looking for an inexpensive dining experience. It’s also an ideal place for a quick, tasty lunch and a convenient stop for families wanting to dine in or take food home. Vegetarians will be pleased to find that the restaurant offers a number of meatless options, including “veggieballs” (meatless meat balls) and a special Vegan Torpasta. For those looking to serve a large group, the restaurant provides catering for business meetings, weddings, and other events.
To entice its carb-loving clientele to come back, Devine Pastabilities offers Royalty Rewards cards that will track a customer’s spending at the restaurant and give them money back after they’ve spent a certain amount. The restaurant also offers other ways to ensure return business, including an innovative promotion where customers are given sealed envelopes with restaurant coupons inside. If a customer brings the sealed envelope back to the store during a designated time period, he or she will receive whatever offer is inside (offers are as varied as a free dessert and a $10 discount).
When I visited Devine Pastabilities for the first time, there was something instantly comforting about the modest wooden booths, simple pizzeria décor, and semi-open kitchen. Upon entering, we were greeted and told to pick a seat anywhere in the restaurant. Our server, Matt, brought us over menus and asked if he could get us something to drink. I was impressed with the restaurant’s beer selection, which included local brews from Coronado and Ballast Point Breweries. I ordered a pint of Coronado Mermaid, which happened to be discounted for happy hour.
Visiting during happy hour also meant that the restaurant’s appetizers were on special. We passed up the Jalapeno Poppers and Parmesan Cheese Fries for an order of Bread Holes – Devine Pastabilities’ version of breadsticks. As you might suspect, Bread Holes are the remnants of the hollowed-out Torpasta rolls. Each order is brushed with oil, baked, and served with marinara sauce for dipping. Just like traditional breadsticks, I found the warm, crispy bread holes to be a great accompaniment to my pint of cold beer.
When it comes to ordering a main course at Devine Pastabilities, there are plenty of options to choose from. The menu boasts over a dozen different Torpastas, many of which can be customized to your taste (you can choose meat or no meat, or add cheese if you’d like). Whether you crave Spaghetti, Meatballs, Lasagna, Fettuccine Alfredo, Ravioli, Tortellini, Eggplant Parmesan, or Mac and Cheese, there is a Torpasta for you! If that isn’t enough, the restaurant also offers specials not listed on the menu. Since my visit fell during the holiday season, the restaurant’s current special was the “Thankspedo” – a Thanksgiving-style Torpasta loaded with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and dressing on the side.
As a first-timer, I decided to try a couple of the more simple Torpastas on the menu – the Meatball and the Spaghetti Marinara. Both Torpastas arrived steaming hot and were swimming in a generous amount of flavorful red sauce. The sesame seed garlic rolls were airy and crisp, and stood up well to the contents inside. From the first bite to the last, each Torpasta was mess-free and delicious.
When it comes to stuffing meals into a bread roll, Devine Pastabilities doesn’t limit itself to pasta. The menu also has a section dedicated to “Torsalads.” Options include House, Caesar, Greek, Spinach, and even BBQ Chicken. I tried the Greek Torsalad, which was loaded with romaine lettuce, black olives, pepperocini, tomato, red onion, and feta cheese. I was pleased by the combination of fresh, dressing-coated veggies and warm, crisp garlic bread.
I also had an opportunity to sample Devine Pastabilities take on an old standard – the Torpedo sandwich. The restaurant offers four kinds of Torpedoes: Steak and Cheese, Turkey and Avocado, Vegetarian Delight, and the Italian Stallion. The Italian Stallion came piled high with salami, capicola, provolone, red onion, lettuce, tomato, and pepperoncini. A couple bites of this tasty sandwich proved that Devine Pastabilities had mastered an original Italian specialty in addition to creating a new one.
Though my meal of bread and pasta was satisfying, I managed to leave just enough room for dessert. Options included Chocolate Cake, Lemon Cake, Cheesecake, and our selection, the Tiramisu. Aside from being a bit frozen in the middle, the Tiramisu was refreshing and good-sized – a classic Italian ending to our not-so-classic Italian meal.
For those who still aren’t convinced that spaghetti and salad belong in a bread roll, Devine Pastabilities offers all their Torpasta and Torsalad options as standard plates of pasta or salad. The restaurant also serves pizza to cater to those looking to enjoy their sauce, cheese, and dough in a more traditional form. However, if you’re looking to satisfy a craving for something a bit more unique, the Torpasta should do the trick. Besides, it’s great for those of us who never quite got the hang of twirling spaghetti.