Sardina's1129 Morena Blvd., Bay Park619-276-8393
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of softball nights. My dad played for the company team, and after the game, everyone would go for pizza, with beer for the adults and video games for us kids. Just as I often have a hankering for completely inauthentic crispy-shell ground-beef tacos, I sometimes crave Italian food that has nothing whatsoever to do with what dish is from whichever region of Italy.
At times like those, I turn to restaurants like Bay Park's Sardina's. While one can dine fancily at Sardina's on dishes like Braciole (flank steak rolled around a spinach-and-cheese filling) or Veal Scaloppini, I like going for simple stuff like antipasto, pizza and calzones.
Two people can dine well at Sardina's for less than $20 by sticking to these simple and delicious items. The antipasto is just like I remember from all those childhood meals-crisp iceberg, romaine and red cabbage decorated with mozzarella, provolone, Italian salami, pepperoncini, tomato, mortadella and garlicky Italian dressing. The antipasto comes with that beloved oily garlic bread that seems to exist only in this kind of Italian restaurant-and the small size is more than adequate for two at around $7.
If you're famished, the calzone is a winner, stuffed with lots of melted mozzarella, ricotta and your choice of fillings-the eggplant is particularly good. If you want something a bit lighter, go for the 8-inch pizza. Cheesy, with a nicely chewy crust, it's again the embodiment of all those childhood pizza dinners I remember so vividly. The toppings are limited, but high-quality. The Italian sausage topping is real sausage, not those prefab pellets found on lesser pizza.
When it comes to drink, Sardina's boasts a decent selection of wine, including Ravenswood Zinfandel and Ruffino Chianti. Obviously, wine will put you substantially over the $20 mark. They also serve beer,0 though it's a little disappointing that the only local beer served is Karl Strauss Amber Lager, particularly since Sardina's is so close to Ballast Point.