Osteria Panevino

$25 - $50 Special Offer

Standing as the oldest Italian restaurant in the Gaslamp District, Osteria Panevino is no stranger to providing San Diego with authentic Tuscan cuisine. Featuring rustic, traditional and homemade dishes by Chef Vincenzo Lo Verso, this casual yet fine dining destination is defined by their cuisine and their atmosphere. With famous dishes such as Ossobuco, Lasanga Bolognese, and Ravioli, each dish is crafted from scratch in Osteria’s kitchen. The warmth and comfort of Osteria Panevino makes it a welcoming place to dine for both lunch and dinner, and when paired with fresh dishes and a selection of award-winning wines, it’s a culinary adventure worth experiencing.

A Testament to the Taste of Tuscany

A surprisingly large staple of the American diet is based on and influenced by the cuisine of Italy. Though sometimes an afterthought, Americans consume Italian pasta, pizza, and even wine just as much as American cuisine. So when it comes to good Italian food,--and I mean really fantastic dishes--there are many options to choose from. Italian restaurants grace nearly every corner of any given downtown area, and San Diego is no exception. And even though we have such a vast selection, there is grace, charm, and, of course, extraordinary gastronomic provisions at the oldest Italian Restaurant in San Diego’s ever-expanding Gaslamp District—Osteria Panevino, an authentic taste of Italy.

Celebrating its 20th year in the business, Osteria Panevino has a menu and theme based on the creations of Chef Vincenzo Lo Verso, an Italian-born master of the kitchen. And what better place to display his creations than in the heart of the Gaslamp? My first visit to this fine dining destination is indeed exciting—I am previously informed that the term “panevino” is a hybrid word for both bread and wine, a combination that sounds appealing. And after dodging through the endless crowd of downtown visitors, it is easy to spot this establishment. It is presented simply; however, while other restaurants along 5th Avenue have nothing but empty tables, Osteria Panevino is already starting to attract a whole lot of attention.

We receive a warm greeting by Ana, our hostess, who immediately seats us directly behind her hostess station on their front patio. Osteria Panevino has a lovely interior themed after a traditional Tuscan kitchen, but the patio seems more fitting on a day such as this. Whether you decide to sit at the bar or at a table, each seating decision is ideal. The colors of reds, oranges, and earthy browns throughout represent the coziness and contentment that a kitchen atmosphere brings, buzzing with upbeat conversations over wine. The dining area features round tables donned with clean white tablecloths and shining stemware, the walls displaying large portraits of the Mediterranean countryside. To the left is their bar area, designed to mimic a customary wine cellar, complete with Osteria’s extensive and award-winning wine selections. But outside is a café-inspired setting, transporting us into a whole different country.

Today is a particularly grey and drizzly day for San Diego, and though pedestrians are heavily clothed in sweaters and jackets, the heat lamps on the patio keep my guest and I surprisingly warm. The external restaurant patio shares the same floor bricks as the rest of the sidewalk; but to us, we are in Italy, even though the only object blocking us from reality is a simple metal rail. 

A friendly smile is given by our server, Ansel, who offers us a choice between fresh spring water and Pellegrino. I choose the latter, feeling in a bubbly mood myself, and gaze at the vast menus of beer and wine, as well as appetizers and entrees. I am no stranger to eating, though I am a stranger to traditional Italian terms and phrases—and the menu is full of potentially intimidating vocabulary. But Ansel is here to help. “We are all Italians here,” he explains with a grin. “We know our selections very well.” Suddenly, I am full of questions, and he is full of answers. 

 We begin with a bubbly glass of Valdobbiadene Prosecco, a sparkling white wine with a fairly minimalist and simple taste, and sip with delight while gazing upon the hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue in the afternoon. Ansel suggests some of his favorite dishes and pairing wines, to which we decide to take his recommendation. The entire staff of Italian workers are familiar with their comfort food, and a little nudge can go a long way. 

Comfort, to me, comes in the form of carbohydrates. Osteria Panevino offers each table with a basket of their complimentary fresh bread, straight from their kitchen’s bakery. Served with garlic and parsley-infused olive oil, a straightforward combination, I cannot help but fill up on this flaky creation. The crispness on the exterior and the airy warmth of the soft middle is a staple of comfort that only fresh baked bread can bring, and when paired with the olive oil, I cannot resist grabbing a second helping.

What better to pair our wine and fresh bread with than a platter of fine imported cheeses? Ansel brings us a house cheese platter—a combination of Taleggio, Fontina, Gorgonzola, and Parmigiano cheeses, accompanied by green and brown olives, pears, roasted walnuts, and  presented on a wooden board that resembles an artist’s color palette. Our selections are served drizzled with a bit of honey, offering a compatible touch of sweetness without distracting our platter from the rest of the components. Each cheese renders a different taste and texture, though my favorite is clearly the Fontina. The texture is between the moist, chewiness of the Taleggio, and the dry but potent Parmigiano. The flavor, though, is exquisite.

From the cheese we move to one of Ansel’s recommendations, Melenzane Farcite—thinly sliced eggplant rolled over rich and creamy ricotta and Parmigiano cheese, which is then smothered in marinara sauce and baked to excellence. It is love at first bite. The tenderness of the eggplant grants my mouth the ability to smile after being paralyzed with the warmth and complementary flavor of the cheeses and the marinara sauce. Standing as a traditional savory dish, this appetizer has an unexpected sweetness to it, offered generously by the marinara sauce and the eggplant. Ansel was right—this is unbelievable.

With one last sip of our Prosecco, our glasses are removed only to be replaced by a large glass of Italian Mezzacorono Merlot.  My eyes bulge with marvel and wonder—the smell is appealing, and my first sip generates a spectacular flavor. Out of all of the selections of award-winning, fine wines that Osteria Panevino has to offer, Ansel surprises us with this particular selection.

He also amazes us with another one of his suggestions and apparent favorites, the Ravioli Di Aragosta E Asparagi. These raviolis consist of a mixture of ricotta cheeses and rich lobster, sandwiched between homemade pasta squares and topped with diced asparagus and parsley in a butter and sage emulsion. The thickness of the pasta has a very evident made-from-scratch egg and dough taste, and when paired with the creamy richness of the sauce, the result is nevertheless filling. Like our starter bread, we have been spoiled with these spectacular homemade products to the point that we can never look back to the travesty that is ravioli from a can.

For our entrees, my guest and I decide on two dishes that highlight the best of Panevino’s seafood and meat selections on the menu. For seafood, we try the Salmone Veneziano, a decision that rewards our mouths with flavor. This flaky salmon filet is served pan-seared and encrusted in pistachios, sitting atop of a bed of steamed spinach and enveloped by a chardonnay mustard sauce. Garnished with sprouts and a few fresh tomato cubes, this dish is presented as a more contemporary, fine-dining dish, but the taste is still Old World. The saltiness of the sauce is gratifying, and the plump salmon filet soaks up every last drop, each bite balanced and completed with taste of the steamed spinach.

Next comes a triumph of a meal: the Ossobuco Milanese, a succulent red wine braised veal shank served atop saffron risotto, embraced by a vegetable stew-like gravy that is thick with carrots, onions, and celery. The shank is presented luxuriously with a fresh rosemary sprig, and each cut falls off the bone with ease. Like the salmon and the ravioli, this dish is a combination of magnificence and effortless flavor, as if each component was meant to be paired together. And though this dish is indeed rustic, it is still extravagant and very rich in taste. Everything from the tenderness of the meat, the velvety smoothness of the risotto, and the heaviness of the red wine gravy is a taste worth experiencing.

Each dish we have tasted is consistently impressive and enticing, which only brings us into immediate conversation about our upcoming dessert. And why not? Dessert is the one course that guaranteed to muster up a smile. Ansel brings us out Chef Vincenzo Lo Verso’s own creation—his Pear Tart, served with slices of fresh, juicy strawberries and vanilla gelato. This tart consists of heavy almond past, which is a flavor that couples well with the texture of the sweet pear. Similar to the previous entrees, our desserts are on the same track of homemade creations—each dish is crafted with detail and from scratch in Osteria’s kitchen. 

Lastly, our homemade Tiramisu is served dusted with cocoa and powdered sugar. With the first taste, I come to the conclusion that this is, hands down, the best Tiramisu I have ever tasted. Each layer in this dessert are jubilant in taste-- the layers of espresso soaked ladyfingers, whipped cream, and chilled mascarpone complete each other successfully. The softness of the cake and the bitterness of the dusted cocoa is a mouthful of heaven. My full but fickle stomach begs for more, and I cannot resist cleaning the entire plate. 

The next thing we know, it’s completely dark outside. The Gaslamp District is suddenly lit up with glimmering lights and well dressed individuals, all of whom stop to gaze at Osteria’s tempting menu displayed at the entrance. We are full—very, very full—and absolutely satisfied. Moreover, we are genuinely surprised and excited. Anyone can make a bowl of pasta at home for themselves, but Chef Lo Verso has shined a new light on the Italian tradition, and has brought me to new conclusions about Italian cuisine as a whole.  Osteria Panevino, though the oldest in Italian restaurant in town, remains at the top of their game, and every bite can tell you the same thing. It’s magnificent, and even more, it’s delicious.

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  Restaurant Info

  • 722 5th Avenue
    San Diego CA 92101
  • Address: 722 5th Avenue, San Diego CA 92101
  • Cross Street: G Street
  • Location: Downtown
  • Cuisine: None |
  • Cost: $$ | Inexpensive | $25 - $50
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Dress Code: Casual
  • Meals Served: Lunch | Dinner |
  • Parking: Street | Valet Parking |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | Mastercard | Discover |
  • Corkage Fee: 12.00 | Per 750ml bottle.
  • Staff: Vincenzo Lo Verso | Chef
    Veronica Goodwin | Banquet Coordinator
    Enzo Croce | Matre D'
  • Phone: (619) 595-7959

  Business Hours

Monday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Tuesday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Wednesday
Main Dining Room | Dinner 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Thursday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Friday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Sunday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Features

Occasion

 


  F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions

Reservations can be made for a party of 30 at Panevino, however, they do not have a private room.

 Menus

Lunch Menu

Antipasti

Special Breads

Le Pizza

Ancora Antipasti

Insalate

Pasta e Basta

Piatti Principali

Contorini

Happy Hour

Drinks

Food

Dinner Menu

Antipasti

Special Breads

Le Pizze

Ancora Antipasti

Insalate

Pasta e Basta

Main Entrees

Contorni

Kid's Menu

Kid's Dishes


 User Reviews

Good night out  

Excellent restaurant, a little on the high side. Good wines!

Osteria Panevino es FANTASTICO  

Located in the heart of the Gaslamp District, this small Italian eatery full of Tuscan feel, a terra cotta floor, and simply wonderful service. The menu was proper, yet not over-hyped with all the current buzzwords in the industry. the food was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth deliteful. Even our server was from Italy, and has been at the restaurant for 15 years. So stop reading this and go... Go now. Chris et al from Philly!

Excellente, Bravissimo  

Anyone who has visited Tuscany knows what good food and good service is and Osteria Panevino was like being in Barberino Val d'Elsa in Tuscany. While waiting five minutes for our table to be ready, the bartender, who really knew her stuff greeted us warmly with a smile. Once we sat - outside of course on a July night, we had this cool corner table and did some people watching. It was very comforting hearing a couple of staff talking in Italian. The food was perfect - and on time. We weren't rushed at all, which is the way one should eat dinner. If all restaurants took a lesson from Osteria Panevino, there would be more successful restaurants.

Awesome Experience  

This is an excellent dining experience for an intimate dinner or a large fun group. Service matches the food with excellent value and a lasting great impression. Will return here in the future.

Osteria Panevino = the best quality in downtown!  

I took my girlfriend to this fine restaurant for Valentine's Day, and I'm not sure who loved it more, me or her!

Amazing food, great fun!  

I love italian food, and it gets even better to have it in a truly authentic italian "home". The Osteria is very alive, the service is as informal as it gets, with a familiar touch through casual conversation about soccer, wine and food. The Lamb Ravioli is simply wonderful, I hope to go back many times to try some other creations of "Panevino". Oh, and the reservation system through this website worked like a clock. : )

Best Italian I've had in Years!  

Last night we went to Osteria Panevino after walking by and noticing how good the food looked, how nice the atmosphere was and how comforting and inviting the inside looked. Warmly greeted by the staff, we were seated and offered drinks immediately. After taking time to review the menu and hearing about the day's specials, we decided on the PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA which could not have tasted any better, and the CARPACCIO TRADIZIONALE, which has changed my view on eating raw meat. Though the antipasta came quickly, we had fresh baked bread and olive oil with pesto to snack on. Next we shared the RAVIOLI MEDITERRANEO which had the best blend of seafood in a refreshing tomato sauce. For our main course we tried the SALTIMBOCCA which was rich in taste. The only complaint I had with dinner was the fresh rosemary and sage overpowered the veal. But overall, the entire meal was delicious and I defintely plan to come back again to taste their selection of coffees and desserts!

it was ok  

good for families and friends for a relaxed night. But it was a little cramped and noisy.

Good Food & Waitress if you like to wait...  

Overall dining experience was good. We arrived for our 7:00 reservation & finally got seated at a table 40 mins late; you can get a table quicker if you know the hostess or manager, several couples arrived after us & were sat ahead of us; when we spoke to manager about this we were treated very rudely. The food & menu selection were very good, they offer a lot of veal & other types of wild meats that I prefer not to eat. Ambiance of restaurant was great. Overall would go to Little Italy for a better italian meal, especially when seated 40 mins. after reservation time.

Osteria Panevino  

The restaurant was offering a meal and wine pairing for a reasonable price, so we thought we'd try it. Service was great, and accommodating with minor changes (gluten free options). Wine pairing was good, but not outstanding - one with appetizer and one with dinner, but the price was appropriate. Food was very good. We had the risoto of the day, fresh catch, and the spinach ravioli. All very good.

Great food!  

Great food but a little slow on the service. We came in and got to choose where we wanted to sit which was nice, but as we were tucked away in a corner it took our server a while to come to our table throughout the meal. The food was delicious, a little on the expensive side but well worth it.

Best Italian I Ever Had  

So delicious and fresh. Try the homemade pasta called Casaleche. So delicious. Also, the fettuchini alfredo is the best I have tasted anywhere.

Excellent Atmosphere and Service  

We took two friends here for dinner last weekend. It was a first for all of us and the food was excellant. The Antipasto plate for 2 is more than enough for 4. All our our food was great and the dessert (tiramisu) was even better. The atmosphere is this small restaurant is great and the service is very authentic (almost too much, I had a hard time understanding our waiter). I would definitely dine here again or recommend it to others.

Excellent choice  

A party group of 9 was generally well satisfied with the food and service. All enjoyed their dishes except for the veal which was mediocre. Apparently owned by the operators of Osetra The Fish House and Greystone's, The Steak House. Same dessert menu used for all restaurants which should be changed! Bob Sherwin, Agoura Hills, CA

Mixed bag  

Lasagne was excellent however the seafood pasta special was fishy and overcooked. Service staff was friendly and there is a good wine list.

Osteria Panevino  

Ambiance and service good Food had so taste or blah taste. Dessert was tasty

Good food, strange ambiance  

I visited Osteria Panevino twice this week, once with my family and once with some friends. The first visit was mostly wonderful -- the place was suffused with tantalizing smells of garlic, rosemary, etc. We enjoyed the bread, dipping it in the good olive oil, and shared several luscious appetizers and salads. The main courses were also excellent, although the risotto was grainy rather than creamy. Then things went south. Halfway through the entrees, the place was suddenly filled with the clearly identifiable smell of Pine Sol. When we asked the waiter (and, later, the busboy) what was going on, we got garbled and inconsistent stories. The smell was so strong that we quickly asked for a check and left, with our stomachs roiling. On the way out, we asked the apparent manager about the smell, and he claimed that it was coming from another restaurant, but seemed indifferent to it. The next night, out with several friends, someone suggested Panevino and I acquiesced. This time, the food all seemed slightly mediocre: the ravioli d'agnello had too much rosemary and the risotto was, again, grainy rather than creamy. I suppose the fact that the hostess was handing out cards for free desserts should be a clue that things weren't going well that night; next time we'll know better! Overall, I wouldn't write the place off, but I'd suggest that for the price and pretensions of elegance, they can and should do better with the service and hospitality. And the risotto definitely needs work.

So So.  

Skip it. We went to other places that we would write reviews for rather then here.

Website menu different from reality  

Their menu in the restaurant does not compare pricewise to the menu that you see online. They were not very friendly either. Although the calamari was delicious, we left after the appetizer. They also don't offer selections for children except for half orders of regular menu items. We went to the Italian restaurant right next door and enjoyed it a lot.

Website menu different from reality  

Their menu in the restaurant does not compare pricewise to the menu that you see online. They were not very friendly either. Although the calamari was delicious, we left after the appetizer. They also don't offer selections for children except for half orders of regular menu items. We went to the Italian restaurant right next door and enjoyed it a lot.

Unhappy customers  

Food Good, Service horrible  

Food was excellent; service was bad. At the end of the meal AFTER paying the bill..and including the tip, we decided to take a picture commemorating the evening as it was my birthday and apparently, that was a few minutes too much for the wait staff. It was a busy evening and we were informed that they really needed the table! We hadn't been sitting there for an hour...only a few minutes after paying the bill. It was insulting and condescending. I would NEVER recommend this restaurant to anyone . There are restaurants with as good food elsewhere and you don't need to spend that kind of money to get good food and be insulted.

NO NO NO  

I wouldnt have responded at all, but since I received the email, here you go. Service was horrible, no empathy or common courtesy at all was show by your staff. I drove from the San Francisco Bay area down to SD for the New Years celebrations as well as my fiancee's birthday. Due to a late start, I almost called ahead to cancel completely thinking we would totally miss our RESERVATION; but we pushed on to San Diego. We made it to town about 30min. before our reservation time and responsibly I called to let the host know we may be 5-10 mins late. I was told you would no longer honor my pre-schedualed RSVP if we were late. I spoke with a manager who I assumed would be of more help; wrong again, he was worse and had a "I could care less" attitude. Im sure the evenning was stressful and there was much demanded of your staff that night, but for a first time customer, referred to your restaurant by regulars, I was completely appauled. Nothing as I was told was shown by the staff or environment. Seems like you are a successful business reguardless of one or two customers. However,5 to 10 mins of decent service would have yielded a $200 tab, guess you all don't need that. Enjoy your "success". Since you asked I just wanted you to know to me your restaurant is a CRAP establishment and doest deserve good peoples money. Thanks for ruining a birthday and a potential great evenning. Personally I hope this economy catches up to you and you go out of business soon. Thank you

There are better restaurants in SD!  

I ate here on Xmas day 2010 because there was nothing else open. It was mobbed. The floor was cluttered and dirty. There were no table clothes. The staff attitude was one of they're tourists, who cares. My friend had lasagna which was a very small portion of about 3" square, hardly worth the price of about $20. My pasta was not a decent portion either. The waiter never did bring the antipasto. Forget this place. There are better ones.

There must be better italian restaurants in SD.  

Loved nothing....Service needs to improve. Sat for 20 minutes before someone brought us water. Took the drinks order and promptly forgot us. We saw our wine glasses filled and ready to go at the bar and waved to the bar tender at which time she sent someone else with the glasses. Finally the owner came out and took our meal order. Food was okay. Charged us for 3 salads when we only ordered one. Made up for the mistake by not charging us for one tiramisu. Avoid. High downtown/gaslamp prices and poor service.