La Dolce Vita Ristorante

It’s funny how your food palate changes over the years. There are some places that the BF and I used to love that we no longer enjoy as we’ve now had so many more food experiences. And yet there are other places that you would think would fall into this category that we still keep as part of our dining rotation.

La Dolce Vita is a small Italian restaurant tucked into a narrow strip of downtown La Jolla’s shops. It was where we had our first official “nice dinner date” and where we frequented for the better part of our first year together.

Since then, we’ve never been back. Part of me knew, even without going back to make sure, that this was one of the restaurants that we would no longer love.


After many years, BF took me back for a walk down memory lane. While I appreciated his efforts and liked the idea of coming one final time and enjoyed the fond memories from this spot, I can now absolutely say with certainty that this is one spot we won’t voluntarily be dining at again.

La Dolce Vita is quite small, with a few tables inside and some outside dining as well. The inside seats around 30 or so people, in very tight, cramped quarters. The walls are decorated with giant murals which I would have taken a picture of if I could.

Shortly after ordering, we were given a sun dried tomato dipping sauce and a chunk of hot bread. To my surprise, half the bread was visibly burnt. I was surprised they served it to us anyway. The tomato sauce was actually quite tasty and went well with the warm crusty bread.

We decided to start off with the beef carpaccio appetizer. Our first experience with beef carpaccio was actually here and we have loved it ever since.

The carpaccio that was served to us did not look appetizing. It looked very wet and oily. I was also surprised to find that it was two giant pieces, not cut up at all. We had to cut it up ourselves. The carpaccio was doused in lemon juice and oil. I did not like it and only had a few bites.

For the entree, my eyes were drawn to a grilled T bone steak drizzled with imported black truffle oil. I love truffle oil and almost always order something with truffle oil when I see it being offered. I was informed that they were out of the T bone steak but they had a New York steak. I told them I was fine with the replacement as long as it was made using the same preparation.

When my steak arrived, I knew right away this was going to be disappointing. There was no aroma of truffle oil at all on my steak. I debated bringing this to the waiter’s attention, but in the end, I chickened out. I just wasn’t in the mood to complain about my food. The steak was grilled with visible char marks which you could also taste. It lacked any flavor whatsoever. I told BF it reminded me of a steak I’d be served at TGI Friday’s and he agreed.

The spinach at least was sauteed with oil and seasoning and was pretty tasty. The roasted potatoes were alright, but lacked the crispy skin I enjoy on roasted potatoes.

BF opted for one of the specials of the night, lobster ravioli topped with seared scallops. The wine sauce accompanying the raviolis was good. I felt that the lobster filling had too much other stuff mixed in so you couldn’t even tell it was lobster. The scallops were my favorite part. Overall, his dish came out much better than mine. Perhaps I should have ordered off of the specials as well.

We chose not to get dessert. We were quite ready to leave. As we waited for our check to arrive, something happened that pretty much sealed the fate of this place for us. We saw a giant cockroach making its way straight towards our table.

Now, first I want to make something clear. I’ve read people reviewing restaurants before screaming about cockroaches. It often makes me roll my eyes. Not that I think cockroaches are okay. I just sometimes feel people are being a little overdramatic. When I was in New York City a few years back, there were cockroaches everywhere. It was quite common to see one scurrying into a bar from the outside. In Taiwan, where my parents are from, there’s even such things as flying cockroaches, and it’s always pretty common to see cockroaches outside, inside, etc.

But when I saw this giant cockroach heading toward me, I have to admit I became very very squeamish. I didn’t scream, but I did pick up my feet, as it decided to scurry right next to my chair. Some other customers noticed the cockroach as well and someone must have said something to the waiter.

The waiter responded by looking around for it, and then saying “Oh it must have come from inside.” Yes, he said inside. I think he misspoke. I hope he misspoke. Either way, this was definitely an interesting way to end the night.

Afterwards, BF and I discussed it and realized this was actually the first time we’d ever seen a cockroach in San Diego. I should have taken a picture of it for you all, but I was afraid the waiter might have gotten angry.

La Dolce Vita Ristorante
1237 Prospect St, Ste P
La Jolla, CA 92037

La Dolce Vita on Urbanspoon

9 comments on “La Dolce Vita Ristorante”

  1. Hi Kirbie – I think it’s a great thing to know that your tastes are changing and expanding! BTW, there was a second location of La Dolce Vita a couple blocks from where we live. It was a pretty sad example of Italian food.

    • I think I saw something on their website about a second location. I like experiencing and expanding my tastes, but it’s also sometimes sad because places I used to like get ruined once I experience more.

  2. I’m so glad you did a post on this place – I’ve walked past this place for years and wondered if it was worth trying out.

    Flying cockroaches in Taiwan! That brings back memories for me too!

    Your steak did look very TGIF-ish 🙁 I’m not a fan at all of NY Steak – find it way too lean and dry.

    How were the prices at this place? Is it a decent place for a first date (minus the poor food and cockroach – yikes). I’m looking for a place that’s a good first ‘date’ place – any suggestions?

    • The entrees were priced around $20. I wouldn’t recommend this place for a first date. It’s very cramped. You can hear everyone’s conversations. Hmmm, first date places. I think Cucina Urbana may be a good choice. The prices are reasonable, the service is good. The restaurant is pretty.

  3. Eek on the bug. But I bet it’s really hard to keep those critters out of any restaurant, alas.

  4. Hey Kirbie, I recently received the Stylish Blogger Award and am passing it on to you! I love the honesty of your posts and I only wish I could do what you do in such a WONDERFUL city 🙂

  5. Interesting that the restaurant writes ” imported black truffle oil”. There is hardly any black truffle oil (even the more expensive ones) which has ever seen a really black truffle. Most of them have just some artifical chemicals which are part of the black truffle aroma in some oil. But perhaps the chemicals were imported 😉

    • Interesting. I do remember reading that somewhere before when I was looking into buying truffle oil. Either way, the truffle oil was non existent on my plate.

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