Parioli

$25 - $50

Rustic, Refined, Reverent Italian

Just north of the Del Mar Racetrack and Del Mar’s west-facing sea cliffs sits Parioli’s, an Italian Bistro run by two brothers, Antonio and Piero Tarantino. With Antonio as Chef and Piero as Maitre D’, they have been serving fine Sicilian cuisine since 1997, using the finest ingredients available to complete their generational recipes.

From Via De La Valle, turn right onto South Highway 101, and Parioli’s will be instantly visible on the right side of the street. When there is a heavy marine layer, the outside looks warm and inviting. When weather is warmer, it seems the perfect spot to enjoy a martini and breathe in the Pacific air.

As soon as you walk through Parioli’s craftsman-style doors, a dimly lit bar of polished wood faces you. A wall-size mirror makes the bar look twice as long and inviting, but a mural of the Italian countryside provides the real trompe l’oeil. The feeling is cozy but sophisticated, European but California. Martini and wine glasses hang from the bar encircled with pendant lights. Behind the bartender—on the evening of our visit it was Piero—is a window with a view of potted plants. While the bar is inviting, the sounds and scents from the nearby kitchen made us curious: sizzles, animated dialects, and the scent of lemon, garlic, and grilled meats.

My husband and I sat down to a table under paintings for sale by local artists. The restaurant had only tables, simply dressed in classic white. In one corner of the restaurant, a tile mosaic depicted what I interpreted as a scene from a pastoral village. Yet what I enjoyed most was the espresso brown paint of the restaurant and white bead boards. It was like being in a cup of espresso as we ate—pure warmth and tradition. Not to be missed is the brick fireplace that can be seen from almost anywhere in the restaurant. But don’t let the fireplace sway you into thinking this is strictly a place for couples. Parioli’s could be a date setting, a family gathering, a rehearsal dinner, or a place to come after you walk the dogs at the beach on a Sunday (they have patios – read on).

Our server John brought us poppy-seed bread; I would call it an Italian baguette. The baked-in-house, sliced-on-the-bias bread was served to us in a stylish silver vessel, an urbane bread basket. More impressive was the dipping sauce for the bread. At first glance it looked like a simple balsamic vinegar/olive oil blend, but it was actually closer to a caponata. I asked our server what was in it and all I heard was “lots of garlic, the chef, he likes garlic.” There was indeed a lot of garlic in the caponata-style dipping sauce but what I detected mostly was a marriage of finely diced, well-marinated vegetables. We finished this immediately, and hurried on to the appetizers.

I picked out what I wanted from the menu right away: the Marinated Octopus. I believe octopus should grace more menus than just those of sushi restaurants. That said, octopus must be cooked attentively so as not to be chewy. Parioli’s does octopus right. This appetizer passed the chewy test – the octopus was cooked perfectly, marinated in the right ratio of vinegar and oil, and was tossed with diced, mellow celery. The appetizer was served with salad greens and a lemon wedge on a green glass platter.

We also ordered the Iron Skillet Sautéed Mussels. The mussels came to us in a tomato broth that was unparalleled during our dinner. Sea-salty but not overpowering, the tomato broth surrounding the mussels tasted like the ocean meeting the harvest with large pieces of fresh tomatoes nestled into the open shells. Herbaceous broth and drops of high quality olive oil glistened inside the white bowl. The mussels were served all face up, greeting-style.

Before our second course, Mediterranean Tomato and Olives Salad, arrived, I perused the entire establishment. In the back of Parioli’s is a secluded, indoor room that could accommodate private events. By a wall filled with black-and-white photos of Sophia Loren is a nearby door that leads to the patio. I walked outside and noticed an above the ground fire pit beneath a television showing - what else in a restaurant run by Italians - soccer. Walk a little further away from the restaurant (I was surprised at how deep the property went) and you will see a large movie screen at the head of several rectangular tables. On Wednesday nights, foreign movies are shown with subtitles, and any bottle of wine off the menu is half-price.

I returned to the Mediterranean Tomato and Olive Salad waiting for me at my table. The salad featured green and black olives, sweet rings of marinated onion, and meaty tomato, tossed with olive oil and balsamic dressing. This dish reminded why Mediterranean cuisine is so admired – it is as good for you as it is simply delicious.

At that point, I knew I would be back. But I would not return only with my husband - seated in front of the fireplace was a family of four. Sitting behind us was a group of people discussing their start-up company. Parioli’s is appropriate for all diners. I noticed that no one spoke much once their food was served. Parioli’s seems to put their patrons into an eating trance.

The Artichoke Lasagna did that to me. I know of only one Italian restaurant matriarch who does artichoke lasagna, and only special ordered. Parioli’s has a phenomenal version of artichoke lasagna on their everyday menu. How does food get better than combining artichoke hearts and lasagna? The menu’s description pairs the lasagna with béchamel, but when served, the lasagna is surrounded on all four sides by a smooth but chunky tomato sauce. I tasted cheese in every bite, and didn’t have to chase it with my palate or my fork. With the bright flavor of the tomato sauce and the creaminess of the béchamel, the artichoke lasagna provided the best of both worlds. The artichoke inside the lasagna was tender, plentiful, and earthy. Vegetarian but hearty, this baked pasta dish delivered.

My husband ordered the Filet Mignon. It was grilled and perfected with a red wine reduction. The reduction had a vibrant color and a fruity depth. The knife cut easily through the tender meat, and there was ample sauce to drape each bite through the reduction. Next t the filet was a mound of airy but creamy potatoes. Sautéed broccolini, spinach, and sliced garlic graced the filet and potatoes, and it was hard to decide which item was the real star because the vegetables were fantastic. The garlic, clearly beloved by the chef, was not overwhelming but friendly. The spinach I believed to be a whole leaf just moments ago before entering the pan to be cooked. The broccolini was tender and sugary. I ate all of the vegetables off my husband’s plate unapologetically. This meat-potatoes-green-vegetable dish was the opposite of the same old thing. It had an Italian spin but everything about it was tastefully familiar.

The wine list has a column devoted to just reds. Reds from as diverse locations as Israel, Chile, and Puglia; however, we stayed in California (Monterey). With Brunello di Montalcino half price during subtitled movies, can you blame us? You may bring your own wine and be charged a corkage of $15.00.

The desserts are all made in house. There are gelatos to choose from, vanilla bean crème brûlée, and Frangelico chocolate mousse, but I ordered the tiramisu because I like to see how it varies from restaurant to restaurant. It is almost like doing a geographical interview. Parioli’s tiramisu had ladyfingers that maintained their spongy-texture. The mascarpone cream was sweet but light. The cocoa powder dusting at the top was sable colored, and everything else about the dessert was a mystery except the fact that it was deeply satisfying.

On our way out, we talked with one of the founding brothers, Antonio. He was standing at the bar with a Frenchman. I was not surprised to find other Europeans here – al fresco dining encouraged, basics like bread infused with home-made pride, seafood and vegetables hailed like royalty – and I can’t wait to go back for the Cioppino Bucket. According to their website (www.parioliitalianbistro.com), it is their best seller.

There is something about the way seafood and vegetables are cooked together that only Mediterraneans can capture. Or maybe I am charmed by the reverence shown in the Penne Pasta with Eggplant, Marinara Sauce, Basil & Cheese named after “Mama.” At Parioli’s Italian Bistro, rustic meets refined. With such care taken in all characteristics of the meal, it’s deliciously apparent that at Parioli’s, no generations-old stone is left unturned.

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  Restaurant Info

  • 647 S Highway 101
    Solana Beach CA 92075
  • Address: 647 S Highway 101, Solana Beach CA 92075
  • Cross Street: Via De La Valle
  • Location: North County Coastal | Solana Beach
  • Cuisine: Italian | Pasta | Pizza |
  • Cost: $$ | Inexpensive | $25 - $50
  • Category: Casual Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Dress Code: Casual
  • Meals Served: Lunch | Dinner |
  • Parking: Street | Public Lot |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | Mastercard |
  • Corkage Fee: N/A
  • Phone: (858) 755-2525

  Business Hours

Monday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Tuesday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Wednesday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Thursday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Friday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Saturday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sunday
Main Dining Room | All Day 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Features

Occasion

 


  F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions


 Menus

Dinner Menu

ANTIPASTI

SALADS & SOUPS

PASTA

MAIN COURSE

SIDE DISHES


 User Reviews

 

Me and my boyfriend ate here on our first date. It was romantic without being overly stuffy and we had a table just by the fireplace. The service was perfect. I drink A LOT of water at every meal, and every time someone from the waitstaff walked by they filled my glass. They made sure we had everything we needed, yet the service didn't feel intrusive at all. We had chicken ravioli, grilled steak, octopus and polenta for starters. The octopus is the greatest dish I have ever had. It was perfect. Everything else was fantastic. I loved the home made bread and the oil deep. All in all a great experience with great food and a pretty good price. $180 dinner for two with tip & wine. Please order the octopus, you will love it.

Just an amazing night  

Everything we had was just perfect right combination of flavors s right portion and side dishes and the server was really nice. For sure one our favorite place now, and for sure we’ll visit this restaurant again. We particular enjoy the live band out in the patio.

The Best Restaurant in San Diego  

We just got back from Italy where most my husband family lives, we had many dinners at home with my hubby family, and guess what…… Parioli food (our local favorite spot in North County) totally matches the taste. Most people think Italian food it's about the heavy sauces the strong garlic etc. Parioli has a very original taste, the combination of the ingredients, are just right and the kids love it too. Vanessa my little one had her first bowl of pasta last Sunday and she loved as well. The atmosphere it’s also very nice and relaxed, they also show old Italian movies in the garden, we really recommend it

Great night  

Service was good. Portions were great. Atmosphere was excellent, very european type of dining. Overall it was a good experience especially in later hours....... If you like Appleby's don't go here....

Great Find!  

Had a great experience! A nice little neighborhood restaurant. The seating was a little tight, but still nice. The service was good and efficient. The wine list had some outstanding wines, some very nice wines by-the-glass. The food was wonderful. Being vegetarians, the waiter and chef were very accommodating. We had the Polenta with Mushrooms as an appetizer. Very good, and a nice portion for 2 people. The Lentil soup was terrific! We substituted gorgonzola cheese over feta on the Baby Spinach Salad, and found it to be quite nice! Subtle, yet flavorful. The Spinach Ravioli was the best, rich with flavor, but not heavy. The Gnocchi Al Gorgonzola was good, but the shallots overpowered the gorgonzola. Still, it was quite good (especially when we added some of the sauce from the ravioli). For dessert, the Frangelico Chocolate Mousse was outstanding. Very rich, and meant to share, it consists of a chocoalte brownie sandwich filled with frangelico chocolate mousse ...mmmmmmm! We will return!!

Pariloi - Sorry, but missed the mark  

The ambience was good, somewhat intimate and nice with the fireplace. Low light and hardwood floors added to the relaxed feel. The service was very good, the bread tasty but a little salty. Both salads missed the mark with the endive missing the pears and short on pine nuts and endive. The Caesar was marginal due to the very fishy taste from the anchovies. The carpaccio slices were small and lacking in large flakes of parmesan cheese. The chicken in the picatta was too thick and lacking in garlic, oil, butter and lemon. All in all, we liked the restaurant itself and wait staff but were disappointed in the food and would not go back

Look out for the glass!  

We visited Parioli on a Monday night withg a party of ten. At first we thought the service was mediocre and then it turned down right bizarre. My friend bit in to his veal picatta and there was something sharp in it. He spit it out and low and behold there was a shard of glass in his veal. We questioned the surfer dude waiter about it and he said, "Uh, yeah, I broke a glass in the back and when I was wiping it up it must have gotten on your plate." He did not offer to replace the meal, give it to us for free, or give us a free glass of wine or anything. I must say that the food was good, but I will never return there because of the lack of concern the waiter showed us.

Are you kidding ?  

The review that says how incredible this restaurant must be a relative of the owner. Over the years (and we keep going back to give them another chance) this restaurant has consistently had the worse staff. Even the chef is mean spirited. To get him to do something simple, like sauce on the side, is a VERY big deal. I have NEVER had a meal there I liked. And NEVER had a good time. Not for lunch. Not for dinner. I truly do not understand how the guy stays in business. Did you notice the other reviews, like food poisoning ? I would steer clear of this restaurant.

No longer good  

We have been going there for last 1 year. It used to be so good, the food and the service and not to mention, the price. But I went there last week and the food was bad and more expensive. The menu had changed and the waiter was uncourteous and not concerned. We ordered chicken lasagna but it was nowhere close to lasagna. I was quite dissapointed. Also, there was not much crowd as used to be earlier. Looks like its popularity has gone down. I would never go back to Parioli.

Are you kidding Part 2  

I just realized after I submitted the last one that you have an overall rating, so here's the REAL rating. -15 on a scale of 0-5. Sorry for the mistake. I hope it doesn't figure into their average...

Not Recommended  

My second visit to this restaurant was very disappointing. I made a reservation a week in advance, preparing to take family from out of town there. Upon arrival we were told by a gentleman that it would be a little bit. We never heard from him again. He never came over to update us at all, rather we had to go ask them twice how much longer it would be, after waiting an hour. Once seated, it took 10 minutes for a server to arrive. The food was mediocre, not hot. Definitely not worth the money. After being in the restaurant business, as a server and bartender for 9 years, I was not impressed at all with this restaurant. I will not return and will not recommend it to others.

Food Poisoning!!!!  

I'm not one to write reviews UNTILL...Last week my husband & I went before Cirque de Soleil show. I had spinach salad and their seafood risotto..and I'm still sick. My husband had a lobster pasta and was lucky to have just a stomach ache an HOUR LATER! The service was OK. Needless, to say I will NEVER return!!