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20 San Diego Uptown News | Nov. 25–Dec. 8, 2011


DINING FRANK SABATINI JR. / RESTAURANT REVIEW


3492 Adams Ave. (Normal Heights) 619-283-3153


Prices: Appetizers, soups and salads, $4.50 to $11; sandwiches and pizzas, $7 to $22.50; pastas and entrees, $6.95 to $19.95. Sunday brunch, $19.95.


The oldest Italian restaurant on Adams Avenue has begun whisking into its time-tested menu a bit of razzle-dazzle tailored for modern palates. In just a few weeks, new consulting chef Geordie Moulios rolls out his fi rst batch of house-made charcuterie that includes mortadella, pro- sciutto, bacon and sausages. In addition, he has already crafted several lounge dishes, such as a meatball burger, as well as a lineup of all-you-can-eat savories for the restaurant’s recently intro- duced Sunday brunch buffet. The brunch further tantalizes with bot- tomless bellinis and mimosas. DeMille’s latest eats merge


with a roster of traditional Italian recipes belonging to the late Maria DeMille, who, with her husband Dominic,


Juicy minced clams are served generously over linguine at DeMille’s. (Frank Sabatini Jr.)


opened the restaurant in 1978. Their two sons, Jim and Mike, have since taken over, although “Pappa” still drops in a couple days a week for his routine half- glass of Chianti.


The enduring top seller is lasagna, built with ricotta and mozzarella imported from the same New York purveyor for the past 33 years. Yes, the cheeses are made from whole milk, as they very well should be. “If it ain’t broke, why fi x it?” says Jim of the lasagna. That phi- losophy also applies to his mom’s meatball recipe, which gives you baseball-size orbs of fi nely ground,


DeMille’s classic cannoli taste bakery-fresh. (Frank Sabatini Jr.)


evenly textured beef boasting discernible bursts of garlic and parsley. As our waiter served one to us he joked, “We play catch with these out back.”


Fairly new to the appetizer list


are Italian nachos that begin with a mound of house-made potato chips and graduate upwards with crumbled meatballs, bruschetta, Pecorino Romano cheese and frilly ribbons of pepperoncini. They’re every bit as good as they sound, not


to mention an appetite killer if you turn gluttonous over them. For those who know Ital- ian wedding soup only from Progresso, I would recommend trying DeMille’s version. It’s signifi cantly less salty in com- parison, allowing the ingredients of escarole, mini meatballs and chicken broth to shine through. In keeping with tradition, the soup contains pearl pasta to give it a teasing carb boost.


While my dining companion moaned with near-inappropriate ecstasy over his lasagna, I twirled my fork


through a plate of linguine with


clams that came close to how my Italian grandfather constructed the dish. His preparation steeped high-powered measures of garlic and red pepper into the olive oil base. Here, the kitchen allows the minced clams and their juice to speak fi rst, which I didn’t mind. No matter how it’s made, the dish is never complete without a gener- ous snowing of grated Parmesan, hence the rather depleted cheese shaker we left behind. We accompanied our entrees with Italian sausage, a softly cooked link dappled with fennel seeds and boasting the thinnest of casing. Bravo! The sausage is imported from an undisclosed New York deli that I’m betting will present a formidable challenge to Moulios when he replaces it with his own scratch-made links. DeMille’s also makes its own pizza dough, an airy type rolled to medium thickness that reminded us of fresh Italian table bread when served. We opted for a topping of Provolone, artichoke hearts and pesto; although by this point we were spiraling into food comas from over-consump- tion and ended up taking most of the pizza home. When does one ever leave an Italian restaurant feeling buoyant?


Nonetheless, we managed to obliterate an assembled-to-order cannoli fi lled richly with super- smooth ricotta, rum and a few chocolate chips. The dessert, like much of the food, stays true to its mom-and-pop origins and knows when to leave good enough alone.u


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