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Little Italy in Carlsbad – Generations of Italians call Carlsbad Home

Cicciotti's Italian

Neighborhoods with a strong Italian heritage are often called “Little Italy’s.” Throughout the United States they have symbolized the tremendous contributions that Italians have made to this country. Although San Diego County has only one official Little Italy community, located near downtown, it also has a few unofficial “Little Italy” communities.  Carlsbad, California is one of those areas, which has been a mecca for Italian immigrants dating back to the early 1900’s.

Many Italians were drawn to the area by the climate and the geographical similarity to their homeland.  Carlsbad is a quaint seaside community with a downtown village, approximately one-hour north of downtown San Diego.  Many of the Italian immigrants made their livelihood as fisherman while in Italy and continued to do so when they moved to the San Diego & Carlsbad neighborhoods.

The Italian community helped to build San Diego into the center of the world’s tuna industry. Italians were leaders and participants in the enterprise of building boats for the American tuna fishing fleet and canning industry.  Generations of Italians made their living on the sea.

The immigrants that did not work on the boats directly, often found work in other sections of the seafood industry.  Italian restaurants specializing in seafood were also a large part of the Italian community influence.

“Little Italy” in Carlsbad is in the village, which is a vibrant neighborhood filled with outdoor cafés, gourmet markets, pubs, art galleries, shops, and a variety Italian restaurant.

One way to explore Carlsbad and sample foods from some of the below mentioned Italian restaurants, would be to participate the Carlsbad Food Tours experience; a 3-hour guided walking tour of the village with 8 stops at unique eateries, historical, architectural, and cultural presentations.

Here is a list of our favorite Italian restaurants and specialty shops in “Little Italy” Carlsbad:

Cicciotti’s Trattoria Italiana & Seafood

 Cicciotti’s is casual Italian dining cooked by a Published Author & Chef Gaetano Cicciotti. Cicciotti’s Trattoria serves classic Italian pasta like fettuccine Alfredo which you might find in Italian restaurants, but you won’t find Italian restaurants that cook fresh Italian food the way Gaetano Cicciotti does. Gaetano Cicciotti has a Trattoria, as well as a fine Italian catering business with amazing Italian caterers. Gaetano oversees his catering business like his restaurant, all focused on the freshest ingredients available. As a native Italian Chef, he serves true Italian cuisine. It is one of the great Italian Restaurants in North San Diego County.

Cicciotti’s Trattoria Italiana & Seafood

595 Grand Avenue

Carlsbad, CA 92008



Vigilucci’s Cucina Italiana is tucked away in the heart of Carlsbad Village, California. Now celebrating 20 years, Vigilucci’s offers authentic Italian recipes from Milan.  Roberto Vigilucci has a passion for traditional Italian cuisine. In Italy the kitchen is the center gathering spot for the family.  Roberto has many happy memories of childhood in Milano and the delicious Italian home cooking he enjoyed. Vigilucci’s has several locations in the San Diego region including 2 restaurants and a Gourmet Market in Carlsbad Village.  Come and enjoy the specialty dishes including homemade pasta, savory veal, chicken, steak, and seafood.  Vigilucci’s also offers an award-winning wine list to tempt your taste buds.

Vigilucci’s Cucina Italiana

|2943 State Street

Carlsbad, California 92008

(760) 434-2500

Vigilucci’s Seafood & Steakhouse 

3878 Carlsbad Blvd.

Carlsbad, California 92008


New Italian Restaurant in Carlsbad – Coming Soon

The team behind San Diego’s Piacere Mio restaurant which has locations in South Park and within Del Sur Town Center, is opening a new Italian restaurant in Carlsbad Village, basically taking over the Carlsbad Village corner unit occupied by Caldo Pomodoro for the past three decades. While the name of the incoming eatery is still to-be-determined, the menu will certainly include antipasti, Italian appetizers, meat, and seafood-based entrees and house made pasta fashioned in a variety of shapes to pair with different sauces. The new restaurant will also have a list of Italian wines and craft beer

Piacere Mio/Caldo Pomodoro

2907 State Street

Carlsbad, CA 92008


Jay’s Gourmet is known for their seafood specialties, which includes mussels, shrimp scampi and scallops sautéed in fresh garlic in a wine sauce.  Come and try Jay’s Special Seafood Combinations over a bed of linguini, yum!

Jay’s Gourmet

2975 Carlsbad Blvd.
Carlsbad, CA 92008

(760) 720-9688


Gregorio’s specialty items on the menu include traditional Sicilian style Italian cuisine.  They also offer a multitude of gluten free items to their customers.  One of my favorite things on the menu is their Meatball Slider.  Basically, it is a meatball on a delicious Hawaiian bun.

Gregorio’s owner Greg Nelson is a community philanthropist.  As a boy Greg growing up in Carlsbad, Greg used to go to the local Boys and Girls Club quite frequently. So, for 3 consecutive years, Greg gave all the earnings from the restaurant to the “Boys and Girls Club”.  To see the Full Nelson story in the Carlsbad Magazine, click


Gregorio’s Italian Restaurant

300 Carlsbad Village Dr.
Carlsbad, CA
(760) 720-1132


Gelato Love – Carlsbad now has the authentic taste of the worldwide renowned Italian gelato.  Cristina and Paola moved from Rome in May of 2014 and brought with them all of the equipment needed to make traditional Italian gelato.

Chef Cristina attended the University of Flavors in Perugia, Italy, where she learned the art of gelato production from some of the most famous Italian and Sicilian gelato masters.

GelatoLove Carlsbad Village
300 Carlsbad Village Dr #104

Humble Olive Oils – Although the owners of Humble Olive Oils did not immigrate from Italy, their product does.  All their balsamic vinegars originate from Modena, Italy.  Puglia, Italy is known as the olive oil capital of the world and Humble Olive Oils does source some of their olive oil from Italy during the season.

Humble Olive Oils is a family owned and operated olive oil store and tasting room located in downtown Carlsbad Village.  They are a specialty shop that offers the finest olive oils from around the world including extra virgin olive oils and infused olive oils. Their olive oils are sourced from growers in both the northern and southern hemisphere, providing our customers with the highest quality and freshest product in all seasons.

Humble Olive Oils 

2922 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008

Humble Olive Oils


264 Fresco Italian Trattoria – Little Italy in Carlsbad

Enjoy a Wonderful Carlsbad Restaurant, Fresco Trattoria, the Heart and Soul of Italy in Downtown Carlsbad Village.  Owner Leone D’Arcangelo hails from Sperlonga, Italy, a beachfront town midway between Naples and Rome, and one can easily imagine you are dining by the Mediterranean Sea in Sperlonga instead of in Carlsbad, CA.

264 Fresco
264 Carlsbad Village Dr
Carlsbad, CA 9008
Come and enjoy a taste of Little Italy with Carlsbad Food Tours.  Stroll the village while eating your way through it.  We stop at 6 tasting locations for food & wine tastings.  Schedule your tour today:
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