Today is: Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Jack's Viaggio Restaurant Review
At Jack’s La Jolla, the restaurant draws a modern, hip, and eclectic crowd keen
on chic and traditional cucina dining. The menu dishes up classic homemade
pasta favorites and sumptuous Southern Italian entrees. Jack’s La Jolla,
balances a hip lounge with cozy and romantic dining, mixing it up with
a modern take on the classic Italian cuisine.
Evoking one of Italy’s traditional restaurants, Jack’s La Jolla possesses an unassuming stucco façade that stands out from the chic La Jolla souvenir shops surrounding it.
The simple exterior belies the restaurant’s comfortable interior, which invites guests
to linger at the cozy bar and nightclub, or casual dining or nestle into Viaggio’s
elegant bar and restaurant. Viaggio is subtly illuminated from the combined
glow of votive candles and chandeliers adding panache and elegance.
Three Restaurants and Night Club All-In-One
We dined on a Friday night at Viaggio’s. Walking into the restaurant, we were impressed by its unassuming charm. The choice of the modern décor hues for the aesthetic of spare elegance combined to create a relaxed and mellow ambiance that put us at ease. We surveyed the entire restaurant from our front-door vantage point and were charmed by Jack’s La Jolla neighborhood feel. We approached the hostess station, only a few short steps from the front door, to receive an immediate greeting and an escort to the bar, where we met an amazing bartender that was not only charming, but had great skills and prepared amazing martinis for us to try. Among
an amazing list of delicious drinks, we tried The Jack which was fantastic, with
Lychee infused, Vodka, Fuki Sake was truly a drink not to be missed, also St.Germain,
with Grey Moose Pear and Grapefruit, truly a wonderful way to
start an amazing dinner. The bartender could not have been nicer!
Mind Dinning Room
The Jack Martini
It was early in the evening and the restaurant was already getting crowded. As we settled into our booth, the General Manager, approached our table and introduced himself as he distributed our menus. A delicious bread with butter was promptly served. We were getting a feel for Viaggio, as a down-to-earth, yet sufficiently sophisticated place where eating, rather than etiquette, ruled.
In contrast, the eclectic wine menu offered a smart selection of excellent California
and Italian whites and reds and a few French labels. My dining companion and I
each selected a red wine to start. I chose a Savanah Chandelle Russian River Valley Pinot Noir; my guest selected a Summerland “Paradise Road” Viogner from the Central Coast. Each was medium bodied; the Pinot Noir was dry with citrus overtones and the Viogner green with grass notes and a clean finish.
Goat Cheese Panna Cotta
Fontina Agnolotti Pasta
The dinner menu presented classic Italian trattoria fare. We asked our kind
and generous server about the appetizers, hoping he would help steer us with a recommendation. He advised that there were several great appetizers to start
with and pointed some that were popular among guests. We ended up requesting
the Truffled Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Pickled Beets, Hazelnut and Arugula, a wonderful appetizer, light and very popular among guests. Also the Grilled Shrimp, Spiced Pumpkin Puree with Pickled Chilies, Meyer Lemon Toasted Almonds and Basil were truly delightful. And to end we tasted the Seared Sea Scallops with
oven roasted cauliflower “Caponata”. One of the best scallops, because it was
fresh, tender and did not have any taste of sand…If you know what I mean!
Grilled Shrimp with Spiced Pumpkin Puree
At this time, we’d completed our first glasses of wine and were ready to explore new ones. We opted for red. My dinner guest chose a Summerland, Central Coast wine again, but this was a light and peppery Pinot Noir. My choice, an Italian Poggio Basso Chianti, was dry and fruity, medium light in body, yet with a heady scent. As I soon discovered, this was a good companion to the rich pastas that we ate.
Seared Sea Scallops with Oven Roasted Cauliflower “Caponata”
For our primi piatti (first course), we each chose a pasta, but per our surprise and to make us really happy the amazing Chef Tony di Salvo, send us a combination of their 4 most amazing homemade pastas, that I can’t tell you which ones were the best, since the 4 pastas we tried were simply out of this world! Our dishes arrived steaming hot and aromatic. The Fontina Agnolotti , with forest mushrooms on a Rosemary emulsion. The pasta showcased the agnolotti’s contrasting sides to perfection.
Nestled among the creamy sauce and thyme tendrils, the square-shaped agnolotti peaked out appealingly. Biting into the pasta, I was treated to a mouthful of
flavorful filling, which the eggy cream sauce complemented rather than
overwhelmed. There was just the right balance of flavors to allow for each
ingredient to combine, yet stand apart in the rich beurre blanc sauce.
Maine Lobster Spaghettini
Another divine pasta was the Gnocchi Bolognese, and since I am Italian, I must say that this one rocks! The best Gnocchi I have tried in a long time, The gnocchi were impressively light and delicious. After tasting pastas in so many great restaurants, including in my past trip to Italy, these selections of pastas we truly divine and prepared to perfection! We also had the pleasure o f tasting the Maine Lobster Spaghettini with Roasted Tomatoes, Scallions, Chilies and Fennel, while less complex, was just as satisfying. Freshly prepared with pure, simple ingredients, certainly another winner. We also tasted the special of the night: The Tortellini with Gorgonzola cheese, divine! This dish was ideal as a light, healthy alternative as an entrée or as a shared primi piatti. ! The only sad part about it, is that I live in Los Angeles, and can’t go there every day, because if I lived in San Diego, I’d certainly become their best client.
Tortellini with Gorgonzola Cheese
Our main courses arrived in perfect time, revealing an array of dishes suitable for all tastes. For my meat-loving companion, the 16 oz Prime Rib Chop is drizzled with a sauce quietly flavored by Black Truffle Vinaigrette and accompanied by perfect Sage, Proscuitto Black Truffle Risotto. The risotto, which is generously infused with truffle flavor, is plump, yet still textured enough to almost match the firmness of the “melt away” meat. It is no wonder that this is Viaggio’s signature dish. The filet is
juicy, and not overpowered by its sauce, and the Risotto is infused
with Truffles into each bite. Even Mr. Well-Done enjoys it.
16 oz Prime Rib Chop
A Sample of all of their Sauces for the Meat
For the health-conscious friend in the bunch, the Pistachio Crusted Alaskan Halibut will be perfect. The kitchen is happy to accommodate our desire for a side of Sweet Potato Gratin and Wild Forest Mushrooms. We also got to taste a selection of their sauces, such as the Pickled Chilies, and Basil Vinaigrette, The Béarnaise, Red
Wine Reduction, The Gorgonzola Mascarpone, the Salsa Verde, The Hollandaise,
the House Mad Steak Sauce and the Pesto. I can’t tell you which one was the
best, since I loved them all. The fish was tender and fresh, it could
not have been more delicious, it is impossible!
Pistachio Crusted Alaskan Halibut
The experience of dining at Jack’s La Jolla in the Viaggio Restaurant was truly one
of the best we have ever had and certainly great food and amazing ambiance, and spectacular service. True, the ambiance and crowd are a distinguishing factor of this establishment, but they do not overwhelm the experience of the cuisine. Perhaps
the menu has been simplified since its earlier days, but as Tunnell asserts, some
of the best Italian recipes are quite simple, and should be able to be enjoyed
by many. And with such an attractive décor and overall vibe, it is
no wonder that the masses certainly come.
Apple Crumb Cake
We did decide, however, to order a dessert and asked our server for a recommendation. We chose the Apple Crumb Cake with Fresh Apple,
Caramel Apple Cider on a Cinnamon Ice Cream, and the Italian Chocolate
Bread Pudding with Nutella Gelato and Chocolate Crumble. Both of
desserts were truly an experience to be remembered.
Chocolate Bread Pudding with Nutella Gelato and Chocolate Crumble
By the time we finished our meal, Jack’s La Jolla was packed with guests in both the lounge and dining sections. With capacity at maximum, it had become a little difficult for table conversation. Whether the music had been turned up or table talk multiplied from around the room, the noise level had increased. Viaggio’s acoustics are
pretty good, perhaps as a result of the restaurant’s high ceilings, which are
tiled withdecorative panels. While at capacity, there was no resounding
echo of voices, although it had become a bit noisy.
Our Server and Sommelier
Chef Tony di Salvo
We left feeling there was a lot more to discover at Viaggio’s. With its uncomplicated menu, charming interior and excellent service, Viaggio’s served up a dining experience that resonated with us. We enjoyed the sexy and chic ambiance and neighborhood feel, and that we were served by a staff interested in making our dinner an enjoyable event. We look forward to a repeat visit soon. Special thanks to Jack’s La Jolla owner Bill Berkley for your invitation that will certainly be always remembered. Special thanks to the amazing Chef Tony di Salvo for making us
the best meal we have ever tasted.
Sweet Potato Gratin
Proscuitto Black Truffle Risotto
Chef Tony DiSalvo has earned The 2008 Mobil Travel Guide’s 4 Star
Rating, which is quite an honor considering only three San Diego
restaurants have been awarded 4 Stars.
Wild Forest Mushrooms
Chef Tony’s home-made pastas and sweet corn
raviolini with Maine lobster, pancetta, tomato, and basil are
inspired by his grandmother, who got him interested in cooking at an early age.
He has also been influenced by his experiences at Gramercy Tavern, Babbo, and
two and a half years as the Chef de Cuisine at New York's, Michelin Three Star restaurant, Jean Georges. Tony’s dedication to fresh ingredients, simple yet
elegant style, flawless technique, and uniquely Italian sensibility make Viaggio
a necessity for anyone who loves cooking and eating Italian food.
Most of Viaggio’s entrees are less than thirty dollars and Viaggio has a
daily pre-theatre menu (prior to 6:30 PM) with some entrees
discounted as much as fifty percent.
Fantastic Wines for Pairing with your Meal
With a resume that reads like a celebrity chef, Tony DiSalvo began cooking at age thirteen at the Hotel Thayer in Highland Falls, New York. After graduating from
high school in 1993, DiSalvo entered the Culinary Institute of America where
he received an AOS degree in the Culinary Arts Program. It was his culinary externship at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s renowned restaurants Vong and
Jo-Jo that began his long term association with this world class chef.
Upon graduation in 1995, DiSalvo took a position at New York ’s La Goulue
under the tutelage of Philippe Schmidt. This one year stint exposed the young
chef to French-Mediterranean cuisine. From there DiSalvo moved on to Gramercy Tavern, where under the guidance of Tom Colicchio, he learned what it would take
to become a true New York chef. Here he also learned the importance of
utilizing top quality ingredients as well as forging relationships with
local farmers to insure quality product.
In 1998, after working his way through all the positions in the Gramercy Tavern kitchen, DiSalvo decided to return to Jeans-Georges Vongerichten and his flagship restaurant, Jeans-Georges in New York ’s Trump Tower. Quickly moving through
the ranks, he was made sous chef in 2000 and became executive chef in 2001.
His exceptional creativity kept him at his post until being lured to La Jolla,
California in 2004 to open Jack’s La Jolla as executive chef/partner.
DiSalvo resides in San Diego with his wife, Andrea and two daughters.
For map and location click Here!
For more information please visit their website at jackslajolla.com
Article By: Mary Adams
Photos By: Chris Marx
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