Taste of Little Italy June 15

Ravioli al Basilico is on the new vegan menu at Civico 1845. Courtesy photo

SDUT  Don’t quote us, but we think the two most popular phrases in San Diego right now might be: “What on earth is up with those Padres?” and “With so many restaurants in Little Italy, how can you pick just one?”

Taste of Little Italy

When: Wednesday, 5-9 p.m. (ticket booth opens at 4:30)

Where: Throughout Little Italy on either the north or south route; ticketholders can pick up a “Taste Passport,” to be stamped at each stop at a kiosk on the corner of India and West Date streets.

Tickets: $36 per route in advance, $43 day of event;littleitalysd.com/events/taste-of-little-italy

Phone: (619) 615-1092

We can’t help you with the first, but we’ve got you covered with the second.

On Wednesday, nearly 40 restaurants, breweries, wine bars and specialty gourmet shops in the county’s hottest culinary destination will throw the annual Taste of Little Italy. The food festa is so big — with a dizzying array of appetizers, entrée samplers, dessert and drinks offered — that they had to split the culinary crawl into two routes, north or south.

Among the places participating are: the buzz factories (Juniper & Ivy, The Crack Shack, Bracero, Ironside); the pasta palaces (Buon Appetito, Civico 1845, Bencotto, Davanti Enoteca); and the neighborhood gems (Mona Lisa, The Waterfront, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto).

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Be prepared: There will be lines at The Crack Shack. — Nancee Lewis

How to pick your route? Like we said, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how we’d chart our course, based on what’s being served.

Meatballs

North: Swedish meatball sliders, San Diego Cellars Urban Winery & Bistro. We’ve had some of the best small bites in Little Italy at this fun winery.

South: Meatballs with bagna càuda, Prepkitchen. How refreshing to see this flavorful, warm Northern Italian dipping sauce on a menu.

Our pick: North

Seafood

North: Seabass ravioli in lobster bisque sauce, Bencotto Italian Kitchen. Can you say velvety rich?

South: Oysters on the half shell, Ironside Fish & Oyster. With oyster in its name, you know Ironside has to serve these super fresh.

Our pick: South

Corn

North: Roasted corn salad, Davanti Enoteca. Doesn’t seem very Italian, but Davanti elevates all its dishes, sides included.

South: Esquites, Mexican-style street corn, Bracero. A little spice, a creamy kick, lots of flavor.

Our pick: South

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Cafe Gratitude, which serves healthy fare, is one of the new restaurants making its Taste of Little Italy debut in 2016, Cafe Gratitude

Pizza

North: Pizza, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. After all these years, maintaining the standard for simple, straightforward slices.

South: Margarita, amatriciana and truffle porcini pizza, Napizza. You had us at truffle porcini.

Our pick: South

Dessert

North: Dessert, Cafe Zucchero. Pray the Sicilian sweet samples include the sfogliatelle or cannoli.

South: Yogurt cups, Yogurtland. So you can leave room for more food.

Our pick: North

Wild Card

North: Deviled eggs with white meringue, yolk mousse and mustard seed caviar, Juniper & Ivy. Tricked out retro food with a madcap modern twist.

South: Lamb sliders, Queenstown Public House. Always on our list of top burgers because who knows lamb better than the Kiwis?

Our pick: North

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Coffee isn’t just a drink, it’s a work of art at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. — Nelvin C. Cepeda

Drinks

North: Coffee, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. Fuel up at this artisan micro roaster.

South: Beer, Bolt Brewery. How can you go to a San Diego event and not have local craft beer?

Our pick: South

WINNER: SOUTH

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