Solunto’s Sicilian flavors are authentic, traditional
by Meaghan Clark
Jun 03, 2010 | 2291 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Guests may dine in the outdoor patio while feasting on savory homemade items from the menu at Panificio e Ristorante Solunto. Photo by Meaghan Clark
Guests may dine in the outdoor patio while feasting on savory homemade items from the menu at Panificio e Ristorante Solunto. Photo by Meaghan Clark
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Wicker seats thinly fill the indoor portion of Solunto, while blooming flowers burst across the wrought-iron fence partitioning off the restaurant’s newly-refurbished outdoor patio. A rustic sign showcases the new name — an addition Domenick Cefalu made when he changed his father’s bakery and deli to a sit down restaurant. The sign reads: “Panificio e Ristorante Solunto,” the name simply means bakery and restaurant, taken from the original “Solunto,” named after the Sicilian village where Cefalu’s father was born. Customers shuffle in and out through the bakery, picking up to-go orders and gawking at the mouth watering items sitting behind the glass partition.

The bakery-turned-restaurant pays homage to Domenick’s father, Mario, and his home, Sicily. Italian plates line the walls while Italian tunes play through the speakers. The breakfast, lunch and dinner menu honors Domenick’s passion for cooking — a trait from his father. The recipes, all handed down, play tribute to worldly classics. And while the menu items may look simple on paper, all that Domenick can say to that is, “You can’t see the flavor.”

Flavor is apparent in every homemade item on the menu, from the signature Al Pomodor (spaghetti and tomato sauce) to cannoli; the dishes simply burst in your mouth. Yet the real trademark of Solunto is the bread, baked fresh daily. The loaves sit behind the bakery counter just calling to customers.

The entrees at Solunto were created by Mario (and perfected by Domenick) with his own spirit.

“Every region makes it differently,” said Domenick, who added that he didn’t really have a taste for the “real” stuff when he went abroad to visit family. “[Mario] always did it his own way.”

To make it in San Diego’s modern Little Italy, Cefalu said all one needs is the passion. “Do it with your heart and you’ll never fail,” he said.

The owner of India Street’s most decorated bakery and deli turned sit-down has just that. The last of the family in the area, Domenick’s father Mario opened up Solunto more than 40 years ago — “back when Little Italy was more traditional,” Domenick said.

Just a year ago, Domenick turned his father’s dream into a reality when he began portioning off the deli counter and baked goods display for stable walls. With busy weekends and the summer tourist season upon him, Domenick plays to those “who like to be pampered” at his proud establishment.
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