cardellino pancakes

Restaurant of the Week: Cardellino

A gorgeous cafe and bakery in the heart of Mission Hills in San Diego, Cardellino invites guests to enjoy la dolce vita. From finger-lickin’-good doughnuts to a top-notch burger, Cardellino truly does it all–and does it well.

Upon entering Cardellino, diners have a choice of how to dine: turn left and feast your eyes on a pastry case of grab-and-go goods at the bakery, head straight to the bar surrounded by wine-lined walls or veer right to the beautiful dining room with quirky mismatched chairs, industrial lighting and tufted buttery booths. During our brunchtime visit, we hit up two of the three.

Cardellino’s bakery is bursting with gorgeous pastries; you might just spy the likes of banana cream cheese muffins, snickerdoodles, matcha pound cake and, if you’re lucky, espresso doughnuts. With a delicate coffee-scented glaze, these doughnuts somehow manage to be light and airy yet perfectly cakey. And the doughnut holes are an elevated take on a childhood classic that the kiddos will devour in seconds.

Another sweet morning treat, Cardellino’s thick warm banana bread, with espresso mascarpone and crunchy toasted almonds, is a cozy way to kick off brunchtime, especially when paired with a hot matcha latte. A staff favorite, the banana vanilla pancakes are topped with whipped honey butter, chantilly and crunchy toasted almonds. The cloudlike pancakes offer enough sweetness to satisfy the youngsters at the table but far from cloying.

The smoked salmon crostino is a spin on the classic bagel and lox, served here with pickled onions, capers, boursin, lettuce and poached eggs on a thick toasted bread slice. This is a pretty pick that is filling (there is no skimping on the smoked salmon) yet feel-good.

Craving something hearty, cheesy and carb-y for brunch? In comes the Cardi burger. Placed on a soft, pillowy bun, the patty is topped with American cheese, pickled and fried onions, lettuce, tomato and, the star of the dish, TRG crack sauce (named for Trust Restaurant Group, of which Cardellino is a member). There are also plenty of pizzas, pasta dishes, sandwiches, salads and bowls to round out Cardellino’s brunch menu, if savory is your brunchtime vibe.

Carellino is open Wednesday through Sunday. The bakery is open 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; brunch is served 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and dinner is served 5 to 9 p.m. To learn more, visit cardellinosd.com.

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