Straight from the roots of Southern Italian cuisine, Lucia Celi and Francesco Guardini, left Italy bound for San Francisco before deciding that San Diego was a friendlier and perfect place to launch Mattarello Cooking Lab on 518 Sixth Avenue! The quaint, beautiful eatery is the couples first U.S. eatery. Celi, Mattarello’s head chef and baker, was a lawyer prior to joining the culinary industry. Her family hails from Southern Italy, where her grandfather was a baker in Capri. The couple invited the Gaslamp Quarter Association staff to sit down and enjoy some amazing tried and true recipes from their homeland. The cozy, 25 seat restaurant on sixth avenue and the hospitality of Lucia and Francesco made us feel like family!
Mattarello is the Italian word for rolling pin and they opened their doors the 1st of November. Fresh pasta is one of Celi’s specialties, as well as fluffy focaccia made from scratch daily. Francesco also enjoys baking and makes delicious sweets like, Cannoli, and other delectable pastries. Lucia’s passion for cooking was instilled in her from her Nona (Grandmother) who calls her via “facetime” every day and catches up/ reviews Francesco and Lucia’s menu and recipes. “It’s the ingredients that make the difference!” Said Francesco, “When you have fresh non-enriched flour, real olive oil and fresh ingredients you will make the best food!”
What We Enjoyed:
- We all Started our “family style” meal with a warm bruschetta, that had fluffy focaccia on the bottom, brushed with homemade pesto, a slice of prosciutto, and topped with a kalamata olive
- Next, we devoured their spaghetti carbonara. This melt in your mouth handmade pasta was covered in a creamy sauce with guanciale (cheek of the pig) and sprinkled with pepper.
- Next we enjoyed the Tagliatelle that had a tangy Bolognese Ragu drenched over the pasta.
- While we ate, we were able to taste their specialty coffees. The Torinese (little espresso with your choice of caramel or Nutella and rimmed with either white or dark chocolate.)
- If that wasn’t enough, Francesco had us choose from some different desserts like their incredible Cannoli and the Pasticciotto which in Italian means (little mess) It is kind of like a cookie and a cupcake all in one with a creamy filling of vanilla cream or Nutella
- Matarello has new pastries all the time! Francesco and Lucia pledge if you become a regular at the restaurant, they will make you try their new delicious creations!
- The interior furnishings of the restaurant were all hand crafted by Francesco. He was a construction worker in Italy before moving to the US.
- If you want to talk sports with Francesco, he is a big NBA fan! Back in Italy Francesco would wake up at 3am to see as many games as possible!
- Soon the cooking lab will have the fresh pasta available to take home to cook!
- Beginning this month, they are also starting cooking classes. Where you too can learn the magic of Nona and discover the art of cooking in the cooking lab.! Tickets are available at https://mattarellocooking.com/cooking-lessons
- Mattarello is open from 11am-4pm and 5pm-10:30pm daily