Last week for a change of pace I lunched twice at Volare.
The place can get very packed during dinner hours but I was happy to see that lunch can still be quite mellow. If you decide to visit you'll be greeted by a few gumball machines and a specials menu board which shouldn't take you long to go through..
Not sure what the protocol is for dinner but at least for lunch, instead of waiting for a host I suggest immediately entering the dining area and sitting wherever you like. Wave to the waiter when you see him. (You can wait for the waiter before seating but he's going to let you sit anywhere you like so I simply bypass this intermediate step.)
I posted the entire menu which you can browse through at your convenience a few paragraphs down.
I started very basic and ordered Spaghetti Bolognese. It was more a meat sauced plate but the portion was huge for a Lunch Special Half Order ($3.75!)
I've always felt most American Italian pasta dishes (even at reputable restaurants) could use more reduction and/or a good dousing of Olive Oil. But despite the looks of the sauce being slightly on the watery side, the taste was nothing like with full natural sweet flavors of ripe tomatoes.
In fact this sauce had hardly any acidic tomato flavor at all which I really enjoyed. The good amount of ground meat also made it a simple but satisfying meal.
The sausage side ($1.50) I had came with a similar base sauce. The sausage was spiced very mildly but had a nice flavor and texture throughout (without any tough bits). For the price I thought it was very fare.
The Minestrone was fine. Basic but for only a dollar when ordered with a lunch special, very hard to complain.
The warm house bread had a flaky crust and was very light. It was perfect for soaking up the sauces.
Below is the full menu..
A few were having their sandwiches which looked very good (all priced at $3.75!). Very curious about their Pizzas as well but I might have to order that when back with friends.
My next visit was the following day. I wanted to try the Capellini Basilica ($4.25) because it sounded like an Olive Oil or Pesto based dish.
And although I discovered it was Tomato based when it came, I had no regrets ordering after one bite..
It was wonderful! This was truly a minimalist masterpiece. Olive Oil, Marinara Sauce, Fresh Basil and Garlic. The slow pan braised Whole Garlic Cloves had no hint of bitterness and in fact mildly sweet.
There were enough of these garlic cloves to enjoy at least one for every bite.
A few more beauty shots because it was just so darn yummy. TMI (Too Many Images)? Well at least no one will accuse me of not being thorough.. :)
The Garlic Bread ($1.50) was a lightly buttered sesame bun that was just as fine and flaky as the previous starter bread. For some reason the taste was very nostalgic to me but I don't know why. Good nevertheless. The "Cheesed" version is a considerable increase (if you can call it that) at a whopping $2.75 so I'm curious in trying it next time.
And then we have the side of Meat Ball ($1.50).
It had a fine texture and fairly moist. I thought the mix wasn't "over bread crumbed" which was good. Was sauced similarly to the sausage side and was perfect to finish off the remaining garlic bread.
The total? ~$8 including tax and even with a 20% tip, below ten dollars. And I was Completely Stuffed! I actually had forgotten cash but wasn't a problem at all. In fact if the window stickers are up to date, not only do they accept the usual MC/Visa/Amex but also Diner's Club as well. Very classy! :)
You can read Part Two of Lunching @ Volare here.
Volare Italian Restaurant, 3528 Barnett Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
(Volare is only open for lunch during weekdays - 11AM~9PM. Weekend hours are 4~11PM.)