Did you know Little Italy is not strictly a community for Sicilians of smallish stature? Well, even if you did, you may not know it like you think you know it, which is why we're giving you the lowdown on everything from how to eat like you have an Italian grandmother to where to go when you need a drink at 6am..
Get espresso, gelato, or espresso on your gelato: Pappalecco Gelato Lounge 1602 State St; 619.238.4590 This is the perfect place to brush up on your Italian, since most of their house-made gelato flavors are labeled with words like Stracciatella (huh?), Fragola (whaa?), and Nocciola (whahuh?!?). If you don’t want to try your hand at a game of Guess that Flavor, these guys also make a mean espresso, and a variety of other coffee drinks. Order the Marocchino; even if you can’t pronounce it, know this -- there’s Nutella in it
Drink like a post-Prohibition fish(erman) at the oldest tavern in San Diego: The Waterfront Bar and Grill 2044 Kettner Blvd; 619.232.9656 Arrive at 6a to get breakfast and a jump on your day-drinking. They’ve got you covered for the rest of the day, too, with a menu full of burgers, bar food staples, and three kinds of grilled cheese. And because drinking there 20hrs a day just isn’t enough, they’ll sell you beers to-go to tide you over during the 4hrs they’re closed. Although, if they didn’t kick you out at 2a, it's not clear why you’d ever leave; the place has all the dive bar essentials: TVs, a pool table, jukebox, popcorn machine, a collection of random bric-a-brac on the walls... oh, and there’s a giant mounted swordfish
A little Mexico in Little Italy: Casa Artelexia 2400 Kettner Blvd #102; 619.544.1011 Walk into Casa Artelexia and you’ll be transported from Italy to Mexico so fast you won’t know whether to say "mamma mia!" or "ay caramba!" (pro tip: do neither). The shop looks like a rainbow exploded in there, but it's the place to find imported South-of-the-border folk art, plus rad Dia De Los Muertos paintings and sugar skull paraphernalia for your casa
Finally, something quasi-active: Bocce Ball at Amici Park The corner of State and Date Streets Put on your game face and challenge a local to a game of Bocce Ball at Amici Park. What better way work off all that cannoli than some competitive lawn bowling? Running, you say? That's insanity
Build something: Architectual Salvage of San Diego 2401 Kettner Blvd; 619.696.1313 A graveyard of architectural awesomeness, they have everything from drawer pulls to old neon signs and an ever-changing collection of unique, interesting, vintage pieces that were salvaged from building demos. Even if you can barely be trusted to put together an Ikea bookshelf, this place is worth checking out
Grocery shop like Giada: Filippi’s Cash and Carry Italian Market 1747 India St; 619.232.5094 Because where else can you buy olive oil and anchovies in bulk or 5ft bottles of red table wine than at a traditional Italian market? This place has been around for half a century and it’s super-authentic; you can tell by the smell of dried fish that hits you in the face upon entry. Walk through the market to find a resto hidden in the back. The menu is simple, with the expected selection of pizza and pasta staples. The portions are huge, so come hungry, and they’ll feed you like the Italian grandma you never had. Unless you happen to have an Italian grandma, in which case, this place is still great
Beer, beer, and more beer!: Bottlecraft 2161 India St; 619.487.9493 Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware that San Diegans love their craft beers, and Bottlecraft has brought together an enormous collection of international, domestic, and, of course, local beers for the benefit of the community. This brew-lover’s utopia has a tasting room where you can sample drafts or just crack open a beer while you’re shopping for even more beer. They have beer education classes, a Homebrew Taste and Trade event for the guys who like to brew it themselves, or you can join the Beer Club to get six handpicked bottles each month along with curator’s tasting notes and other members-only perks.