Apparently if you’re in the know in Florence, and you like to rub elbows with artists, movie stars, and creative geniuses, you seek out the hidden gem of Acqua Al 2, a charming restaurant with traditional Italian cuisine and an eye for vibe. Stumbling upon this amazing spot while living in Florence, Martin Gonzalez, San Diego owner of acclamied wine bar TOAST Enoteca & Cucina, opened up the first international branch of the fabulous Acqua Al 2, and here in San Diego we are so lucky to be the spot he’s chosen to open these doors.
Set right in the heart of the Gaslamp, Acqua Al 2 has been voted Best Italian by the Gaslamp Quarter time and time again. This is an incredible restaurant, particularly for bringing a group of people to dine. The reason this restaurant is superb with a group is the option to receive a specialty menu serving a classic dinner experience patterned after a traditional progression of food Italian diners would enjoy at your table. What this means is that your group will enjoy a three course meal consisting of sampler servings of many dishes on the menu.
The experience starts with the Assaggio Di Primi Piatti, a five dish sampler of first courses, with the chef choosing your dishes from such pasta servings as Maccheroni alla Vodka, a penne pasta with a signature milk and vodka sauce. After you finish those five dishes, each in your group taking a serving, you are onto the second course of your meal, the Assaggio Di Secondi, a sampler platter of three different main courses. The chef chooses from his amazing array of main entrees such as the Fileno al Mirtili, a dish so incredible people actually travel from other cities to come enjoy. Taking an hand carved, tender as can be filet mignon and topping it with the most unique blueberry sauce one can imagine, the taste is unlike anything you will find elsewhere. After your party enjoys these three dishes, the attentive wait staff will bring out your last course, the Assaggio Di Dolci, which is a sampler of four desserts from the menu. Each dessert is hitting a different taste bud, and the choices are as varied as a flourless chocolate cake to pannacotta. By the time you receive your coffee, you’ve traveled a little bit through Italy and your stomach is incredibly happy.
Dining at Acqua Al 2 is not something to take lightly, as it’s really a piece of culture being brought to our city and serving us with the most legitimate food possible, being so far from the source. Trained from the real deal in Florence, and with a true effort in bringing the original experience of the famous spot in Italy to the states, this is a restaurant that deserves both recognition and visit. Or ten.