Descending the big beautiful escalator down to the lower level of Barona Casino yields an array of outstanding dining options. First thing you see is the grand, yet elegant entrance to Italian Cucina. This is an amazing sit-down Italian restaurant, open for dinner Thursday – Monday. Just a short 10 minute drive down Wildcat Canyon Road, south of Ramona, you think you’ve gone “down the hill”, but not really. The restaurant and service are very much top shelf, but the prices are pretty mid-range (in the teens) for most dishes. The overall atmosphere was magnificent! Not at all depressing like some run down Italian restaurants I’ve been to around SoCal.
The food is just outstanding! Huge portions too. All tables are served a complimentary dish of some olive appetizer thing, bread, etc. with bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Be careful not to fill up on the bread service. Easy to do!
All composed entrees are served with choice of house or caesar salad, or soup at no extra cost. Gail’s house salad was unfortunately made with lettuce that was less than fresh. Seemed like it had seen it’s peak a few days prior. My caesar salad on the other hand was fresh and tasty, but very few croutons.
I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana ($17.45) and it was really good. Huge Italian breaded chicken breast, tomato sauce, mozzarella, broccolini, and spaghetti. The pasta seemed mostly al dente which I appreciated. I managed to finish the whole thing, but was somewhat abdominally distended afterwards. I would have been fine with half the amount.
This place serves just about anything from carbonara to smoked beef short ribs, even pizzas and calzones. A must-visit for any fan of good Italian food!