2508 El Camino Real
Carlsbad, CA 92010
The month of May means that I have to start thinking about birthdays. My family has a lot of birthdays this month, and they pretty much continue right through the summer. First up is Katie's birthday, which is only two days into the month. I had a few things in the works for her for our anniversary, so I had to play it cool for her birthday. She's been toting around a broken purse for awhile now, so I told her I'd take her to get a new one at the Carlsbad Outlets. After we got a great deal on a purse, and other things, we had grown quite an appetite. Before we left the house, I had made a mental note of where I wanted to eat, so we headed to Spirito's.
I found out about Spirito's like a lot of people, when they appeared last year on Diner's, Drive-In's and Dives. They were featured about eight months ago, so we waited until the crowds died down a bit, and hit them up. On that episode they showcased their old school way of doing things. They make their pizza dough from scratch, they hand roll their ravioli, and they even bottle their own garlic dressing here. They pride themselves on being an old school Italian restaurant, reminiscent of the owners grandfather's place in New Jersey. With all of this talk of doing things from scratch, I was really looking forward to trying them out.
We got here at the odd time of 3PM on a recent Friday afternoon. Too late for lunch, and a little early for dinner, (unless you are part of the senior set), we hit this restaurant during a lull, but that just meant we had the place all to ourselves. Ordering here is done at the counter, then the food is brought out to you. Because the food is pretty much made from scratch, it does take some time for the food to make its way out to your table. We waited over twenty minutes for our food, and there was no one else in the restaurant during our time here. We were told that this place can get busy during meal times, and after their episode of Triple D airs on the Food Network. Let's see if this will be another hit that we will have to thank Guy Fieri for, or will we wonder why he showed up here.
Not featured on the show, but Katie really wanted to try this Spinach Bianco Pizza ($10) to start with. Since it was her birthday, I indulged her. This non-red sauce pizza came topped with spinach, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, garlic, and olive oil. Not really my favorite type of pizza, but this pizza won me over. I liked the thin crust on this, while the bite from the Gorgonzola kept me interested. This pizza was topped with just enough cheese, and the spinach was well done on this. Having this pizza piqued my interest about the rest of their pizzas, which I look forward to trying on future visits.
What was shown on Diner's, Drive-In's, and Dives was this Spaghetti and Meatballs ($9). This is a real solid version of this classic Italian dish, with a twist. You have your choice of either having a regular meatball, or a Roman meatball, which has pine nuts and raisins tucked inside of them. Definitely get this version. I'm pretty anti-raisin, but here the dried grape added a touch of sweetness that went well with the pine nuts. The meatball was also pretty tender. At Spirito's they do not call it sauce, they call it gravy. Whatever they choose to call it, it was pretty good. The gravy was more on the sweet and mellow side, with the absence of that acidic taste that a lot of sauces have. The pasta was of course really fresh, and this plate was made even better after I added some Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes to it. A very memorable spaghetti plate here at Spirito's.
Not on their regular menu, but written as a special on the butcher paper by the register, this Ravioli with Pork and Beef Ragu ($16) was also shown on TV. The raviolis here are hand made, light, and very big. Some of the biggest we have seen. The meats were pretty tender and flavorful, while the sauce had the same sweetness that the spaghetti dish possessed. The bread served with this was a great vessel for scooping up the rest of the left over sauce.
We ate almost all of this food at Spirito's between the two of us, and did not have that real heavy feeling that you get when leaving an Italian restaurant. I think that can be a testament to them using quality ingredients. Everything we had on this afternoon could best be described as solid Italian cuisine. We would definitely come back when we are in the area. Spirito's is proof that there is definitely some good Italian restaurants on the west coast. With everything being made from scratch, I did not think that the prices were crazy, or absurd at Spirito's. Be advised that they do not have a soda fountain, so all drinks are sold out of the can or bottle. Service was fair during our visit, as it seemed they had a lot of prep work to do in the kitchen, so they pretty much just left us alone to enjoy our meals. Katie was pretty pleased with this birthday dinner, almost as pleased as she was with her new purse.
Out of five skateboards, (not only because Carlsbad is the birthplace of skateboarding legend, Tony Hawk, but the city is also home to one of the first skateboard parks, built in 1976), five being best to zero being worst, Spirito's gets 3.5 skateboards.
For more information about Spirito's, go to their website here: http://spiritositaliandiner.com/welcome.html