If you’re in the mood for some authentic Italian cuisine while in the heart of downtown San Diego, you should definitely check out Cremolose. The restaurant has 40 locations all throughout Europe, with the Gaslamp location being the first in the United States. Serving a variety of tasty foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Cremolose is the perfect way to enjoy a little bit of Italy without ever having to leave San Diego.
Cremolose was opened in January 2012 by Vincenzo Loverso (Executive Chef and owner), a Palermo, Italy native who has opened many restaurants throughout his career. His first restaurant, Grotto Italiano, was opened in New Jersey in 1988. Since, he has opened Osteria Panevino, Greystone The Steakhouse, and Osetra The Fish House in downtown San Diego, as well as Origano in Hillcrest.
The 5,000 square-foot space is decorated in reds and beiges, featuring an indoor seating capacity of 260, display cabinets imported from Italy, and campari pendants used for lighting over the bar to reflect a look of a European autogrill. The outdoor patio is pet-friendly, making it a perfect stop while walking your pooch. With so much to offer, simply calling it a restaurant seems somehow slighting but it will have to do.
Many will probably notice the giant sign out front of the restaurant that says “San Diego Hardware Company” and that’s because that is the original sign from when the building was indeed the San Diego Hardware Company. The sign was kept in favor of paying respect to San Diego’s historic landmark, even keeping the original embossed ceiling design.
The modern European eatery has a diverse Italian menu that features paninis, salads, pizzas, and other various hot and cold dishes. If stopping in for Breakfast (which doesn’t end until 3 p.m.), we think the Eggs Florentine (English muffin topped with spinach, tomatoes, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce; $10.95) sounds delicious, and maybe pair it with a breakfast cocktail, perhaps the Sorrento Fizz (Bombay Gin, champagne, Lemoncello and fresh mint; $10). For lunch, it’s hard to go wrong with a good Panini and vegetarians may be interested in the Vegetariano (grilled zucchini, grilled eggplant, roasted mushrooms, tomato and herb aioli; $9.50). The dinner menu is extensive, offering many different pastas, pizzas, and seafood meals. If you want to try some authentic Italian pasta, we think the Gnocchi (homemade potato dumplings in pink vodka sauce and shitake mushrooms; $17.95) sounds delicious, as well as the Paccheri (thin tube shaped pasta, with creamy pistachio pesto, sliced speck, topped with parmigiano shaves; $18.95).
The desert menu features 24 flavors of gelato and 24 flavors of Italian-imported cremolose. For those who have never heard of the namesake desert, cremolose is a soft, cold cream that has a unique texture unlike that of gelato, ice cream, and sorbet. The many different flavors feature tastes of the Mediterranean, such as tangerine, wild berries, pistachio, almond, coconut, prickly pear, and strawberry. With difficulty comparing it to other deserts, cremolose is definitely one you’ll have to try for yourself. “It has always been my dream to open a place like this. Eating cremolose is like eating fruit scooped right into a cup,” says owner Vincenzo Loverso. The restaurant also has a full dessert bar, with everything made in-house. It features a menu of 40 different types of cakes, all made in either individual serving sizes or larger, group sizes.
Aside from the food, the restaurant offers diners a full bar that includes a wide array of 55 whiskeys, 19 domestic and micro-brewed beers, wines, and various specialty drinks that use cremolose as the base. The drink menu was created by mixologist Jerry Piaskowski, who spent seven years in Italy and has 22 years of bartending experience. Of his specialty drinks is the Lemonade di Jack (Jack Daniels and lemon cremolose), the Tuscan Berry (El Jimador rosemary infused blanco tequila, fresh lemon and lime, and black mulberry cremolose), and the Sparkling Pear (Hanger One Spiced Pear, Berentzen pear liqueur, ginger liqueur, muddled cucumber and basil, and served with a Prosseco float).
The Happy Hour Specials certainly set this restaurant a part from the rest. From three to seven, daily, you can find $3 select beers, $5 premium beers, wells, and house wines, and $7 specialty cocktails. In terms of food, you have a variety of choices for $4 (like the Arancini), $6 (like the 3 Street Tacos in chicken or fish) and $8 (like the 3 mini crab cakes topped with fresh mango salsa and Tabasco aioli).
Another thing about Cremolose that is rare amongst restaurants is that it stays open until 2 a.m. (and sometimes even later) on Friday and Saturday nights, with a closing time of midnight on most other days. Staying open later than surrounding businesses allows Cremolose to snatch up the late-night crowds desperate for something good to eat after a night of having fun.
With so much that Cremolose offers, from delicious Italian cuisine and amazing one-of-a-kind desserts to rare hours and a fantastic Happy Hour menu, this restaurant is definitely one you’re going to want to check out in the future.
To see more of Cremolose, watch July’s E&L TV show!