Credit: Arlene Ibarra @swellscreative
Credit: Arlene Ibarra @swellscreative

The Story Behind Cesarina Ristorante, the Crown Jewel of Fresh Pasta in Point Loma

How Italian Chef, Cesarina Mezzoni, Has Made Point Loma the Premier Destination for Fresh-Made Pasta

If you’ve ever found yourself nestled in the sticky booth of an Olive Garden, you’ve likely experienced a deep, deep feeling of disappointment. Now don’t get us wrong, there is nothing wrong with an occasional breadstick craving…but we’re not here to shed light on Italian mediocrity (no offense, Olive Garden). Cesarina Mezzoni 

If you call yourself an Italian cuisine connoisseur (or San Diego local for that matter), then you already know the magic of Point Loma’s Cesarina Ristorante. Run by husband- and- wife team, Cesarina Mezzoni and Niccolò Angius, this fresh-pasta concept had humble beginnings. What started as meek ambitions and a love for fresh pasta quickly sprouted into a bustling trattoria with a kitchen that oozes Italian hospitality.

Mezzoni and Angius moved from Rome to San Diego in 2015 with a clear vision in mind: to open their own restaurant. From humble beginnings of working in farmers markets around San Diego selling their fresh-made pasta, they worked to make their dream a reality. Mezzoni made the decision to go back to Italy and attend culinary school, studying to become both a chef and pastry chef in just three months. With professional schooling and experience under her belt, she then returned to San Diego to open Cesarina Ristorante.

Cesarina Ristorante was born in February 2019, honoring the Italian matriarchy within its rooted mission: to create a convivial atmosphere that nurtures the community as a mother would. “The idea was that Cesarina is a woman, daughter, mother and grandmother who nurtures the community the same way she would her own family. Cesarina Mezzoni, our chef and my partner, is the person who inspired this unique concept,” says Angius.

The restaurant offers a lineup of daily fresh-made pastas, Italian entrees, vegan options and housemade desserts, updating the menu twice a year based on freshness, availability and seasonality. Guests can experience the pasta made daily in the open-air pastificio, where the dishes come full circle. Aside from the exceptional quality of food, the elevated ambiance is what draws visitors in—beautiful booths, a bright, open space and a charming, lush garden patio.

On bringing their mission to life, Mezzoni shares that they wanted their guests to take part in the whole pasta experience from start to finish, which is why showing the pasta-making was important to them. “When we opened, we decided to create a glassed-in exhibition station where we can make fresh pasta, so we can show our guests the process behind our menu. It’s not only about fresh pasta, but how fresh pasta is made,” she explains.

Before the pandemic, a tableside dessert service was offered where guests could witness sweet delicacies being made right in front of them. “We’ve noticed a lot of our guests would stop by, engage and ask questions at our restaurant, especially when it came to our tableside desserts. The fact that people can see the freshness of the product right in front of them, along with the knowledge of the staff and what they can bring to the table, is unique,” says Angius.

“I like to look at traditional recipes and incorporate parts of them when creating new dishes. I aim to add a personal touch.”—Chef Mezzoni Cesarina Mezzoni

Mezzoni shares she has always loved both cooking and eating, which is where her passion to open a successful restaurant stemmed from. “My mom has also been a mentor to me; she always cooked for us in our house—lunch and dinner every day. I definitely got this passion from her,” she says. Taking traditional recipes up a notch, Mezzoni makes each dish her own, paying homage to all of her favorite Italian recipes. “I like to look at traditional recipes and incorporate parts of them when creating new dishes. I aim to add a personal touch,” she says.

The ethos and mission of Cesarina Ristorante will soon expand even further. The team recently announced another location just across the street: a pizzeria called Angelo, which includes a production center that will allow them to produce fresh pasta, sauces and other baked goods—not to mention a full-service catering business. The pizzeria will offer a revisited and new take on traditional Napoletana pizzas. Similar to Cesarina’s pastitico, Angelo will also bring people behind the scenes with an open-air cheese factory where guests can watch them make different cheeses, from creamy mozzarella to soft burrata.

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Part of the expansion will also include a cake factory, Le Torte di Cesarina, which will offer eight to 10 different traditional Italian cakes. From weddings to birthdays, made-to-order cakes will be available to celebrate any occasion. The expansion is set to open in early 2022. 

But as for Chef Mezzoni, her passion for creating innovative Italian cuisine continues—leveling up the San Diego culinary scene one pile of pasta at a time.

Cesarina Ristorante
4161 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA 92107

Photography Provided By: Arlene Ibarra, James Tran, Sam Wells @swellscreative

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