Toscana Cafe – Downtown San Diego


We are suckers for authentic Italian food, but for some reason it’s tough to find in San Diego. Toscana Cafe and Wine Bar impressed us with their Tuscan menu options, wine selection and ambiance. We called ahead to ask about nearby parking and the hostess explained we could park on the green or yellow curbs after 6 pm and all day on Sundays without adhering to the time limit. This is great information to know for all of San Diego and this restaurant already got extra points for pointing this out to us over the phone.

I liked the laid back atmosphere of the restaurant, which may have something to do with Toscana previously being a cafe serving mostly coffee. They converted the place into a full-service restaurant a few years ago. The wine bottles stored along the back wall are a nice touch and immediately gave me the feeling of being transported to Italy.

We started our meal off with the Taste of Tuscany Sampler Plate with assorted Italian meats, imported cheese, house-made candied walnuts, Mediterranean dip, kalamata olives, bruschetta and fresh fruit. This plate could easily feed four people and tasted like a true Italian appetizer.

Cream of Carrot Soup

Cream of Carrot Soup

Our favorite part of the meal was the house-made Cream of Carrot soup! I tend to judge a restaurant by how well they make their soup and this one exceeded my expectations. The Hearts of Palm Salad was also a pleasant surprise. It came with baby arugula, dried cranberries, roma tomatoes, mandarin oranges, hearts of palm and two brie cheese wedges. It’s not too common to find brie cheese on a salad, but it should be!

Hearts of Palm Salad

Another hard to find item in San Diego restaurants is Lobster Ravioli, so we had to order it. It was rich, as expected, and came with a creamy alfredo sauce, topped with parmesan cheese. We also ordered one of the evening specials – duck drizzled with a Hoisin sauce. This dish came with a side of vegetable risotto. The duck had just the right amount of flavor and melted in our mouths.

Toscana Cafe Duck Special

We were absolutely stuffed from our delicious meal, so we couldn’t manage to order dessert this time. Our waiter insisted we try the chef’s homemade Chocolate Almond Bar which is not on the menu, but they like to serve to customers when it’s available and it goes well with espresso.

Chocolate Almond Bar – Toscana Cafe

We enjoyed everything about our meal and will definitely be back to try more. The next best thing to cooking and learning how to make pasta from scratch in Italy is getting a taste of Tuscany, right here in San Diego.


238 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

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