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Firenze Trattoria is celebrating a momentous milestone bolstered by community support

Maintaining a reputation as one of the best around for a quarter-century is an extraordinary accomplishment, and it's precisely what Firenze Trattoria has managed.


Few cuisines are as beloved, embraced, and enduring within America’s culinary patchwork as Italian. Sauces red and creamy, pastas of all shapes and sizes, a garden’s worth of herbs and, of course, garlic make for a bankable thematic. It’s no wonder there are so many purveyors of the boot nation’s fare. With such a wealth of Italian restaurants, standing out is a challenge, and maintaining a reputation as one of the best around for a quarter-century is an extraordinary accomplishment. It’s also precisely what Firenze Trattoria has managed, care of top-notch food, service, and environs.

Opened in 1994 at the junction of Olivenhain and Rancho Santa Fe, Firenze Trattoria earned an instant following. It was just what proprietor Barry Podwell, a former NYC drummer and L.A. real estate professional, had hoped for when he migrated to San Diego with the dream of opening a restaurant. But, rather than rest on the laurels of his passion project’s early success, he reinvested money and energy into making it even better, bringing in designer David Robinson to renovate the venue, doubling its available space and enhancing it with a fountain-equipped patio to drive home the authentic Tuscan vibe he desired to convey.

“We strive to be an extension of our guests’ living rooms and feel honored to be part of everyone’s family,” says Podwell. “We are filled with gratitude to have the longevity to not only last but thrive in an industry that is often fleeting.”

All the aesthetic charm in the world means very little without delicious dishes. Fortunately, that has never been a problem at Firenze Trattoria, where a varied assortment of antipasti, soups, salads, pastas, and grilled secondi offerings abound. Fettucine carbonara and penne puttanesca bring rich traditional flavors while butternut squash ravioli has a pureness and delicacy. A hearty slab of lasagna blanketed in piping-hot bechamel sauce is a tantalizing invitation to mangia, as are the variety of preparations applied to chicken and veal (piccata, marsala, Parmigiana).

Additionally, Firenze Trattoria has earned the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since 2002 and is the reigning Best Italian Restaurant according to Ranch & Coast Magazine readers. Also worthy of recognition is Podwell’s commitment to the community. Over the past 25 years, Firenze Trattoria has supported numerous organizations, including the Helen Woodward Animal Center, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Hope For A Cure Foundation.

“We are locally supported and would like to thank everyone for their loyalty. We have watched children grow up and go off to college. It has been a blessing to be a part of it all,” says Podwell, who adds, “This is just the beginning.” 760.944.9000, firenzetrattoria.com

Image Credits Photo by Vincent Knakal


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