DAVID NELSON / ON RESTAURANTS
When a restaurant chooses a name like "Caldo Pomodoro," it offers patrons both a promise and a threat.
Downtown Carlsbad's Caldo Pomodoro makes this double offer in one breath, quite literally, since the thrust at this "Hot Tomato" is to tickle the tongue with sharp, fierce sauces made potent by garlic, red pepper, onions and herbs. This by and large is simple, everyday Italian cooking of the red sauce school, with the difference that Caldo Pomodoro insists on strong, unmistakable flavors that decline to negotiate. Subtlety is not part of this restaurant's vocabulary.
DAVID NELSON, David Nelson regularly reviews restaurants for The Times in San Diego. His column also appears in Calendar on Fridays."If one thing stands out about Caldo Pomodoro, it is the sauces. Homemade every day, the traditional favorites are all there; marinara, Bolgonese, Alfredo, creamy cheese sauces, garlic and wine, pesto, wine and mushroom. Caldo has a knack for combining innovative ingredients that work well with the strong flavors of Southern Italy....garlic lovers will go wild for the baked artichoke hearts served with a liberal dose of garlic, Kalamati olives, olive oil and lots of mozzarella cheese. You won't leave Caldo Pomodoro hungry or without a doggie bag."
The Coast News
"Cozy tables, twinkling white lights and friendly service makes you want to settle down for a hearty helping of comfort food. And for those of you who find yourself reaching for the Tabasco sauce, Coldo Pomodor will not disappoint your taste buds.."
Carlsbad Business Journal
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We were recommended by a friend after we inquired about Italian restaurants in the area. We were visiting from Michigan and they said it was the best in town and where they right. The garlic tosts is the best I have had since Mario's in downtown Detroit. And the sauces tasted like my great grandmother who was from Italy made. So, I will kindly pass on the recommendation to others as to the best Italian in Carlsbad and get's 5 starts from us.
Jean & Chuck R.
Beverly Hills, MI
The best Italian in North County My uncle was visiting from Malibu and being Italian from back east I recommended Caldo and low and behold we thought we were back home being served by our Italian mother (my grandmother). Fran's (the owner) personality made you think you were in a neighborhood Italian restaurant in New York. And the food, well when I got my overly large portion of egg plant, I looked at it and thought it would make a good snack the next day. But, I could help myself and ate this wonderful dish. And my Uncle, he insisted we go back the next day for lunch. A big 2 thumbs up!?
It's not fair that they only have a location in Cbad. Their garlic bread is "award winning" and my only gripe is that they charge you for add'l bread if you request it (and you will).
HUGE portions, i can usually eat one entree at least twice. The meatballs are outta this world, as is the arriabbiata sauce.
We've got family that will drive 1 1/2 hours just to eat at this place. Staff is friendly, Bill is "the man".
Dessert is "OK", which is fine by me. When i want Italian I'm coming for the pasta!!
Well done, Caldo. BRAVO!!!
San Diego, CA
I have been eating at Branci's for over 10 years. My Aunt lives in the area, so, I drive from LA to Carlsbad at least 3 times a month to visit her, usually on Sundays.
Branci's is underrated. The space is wonderful, its a small restaurant with a handful of tables but the service is always fantastic, the menu is well rounded and the its almost always the most perfect way to end the most perfect weekends.
Though I have grown up eating at Branci's I hold no bias, if the food was terrible, the wait staff rude, and the decor dreadful, I would most certainly tell you, and would not go back.
My favorite dish on the entire menu, hands down, always has been, and always will be the Eggplant Fritti. Now, its an appetizer, and the portion is smallish compared to the larger portions of pasta and such but don't be fooled, there is quite a bit of flavor packed into this dish.
Basically its eggplant that has been thinly sliced, then battered it in a light almost tempura like batter(if you've ever had deep fried squash blossoms you know what I'm talking about), and then covered with the most crisp, delicate, fantastic tomato/caper sauce. Its not heavy by any means, and I never feel like I'm leaving with a big ball of starchy pasta in my stomach. I order it with a Cesar(which is divine), and a glass of wine/bubbly and enjoy the patio with my Aunt, nearly every Sunday.
Other dishes at Branci's are fantastic, the Chicken Marsala's flavor is rich and deep and wonderful, the Fettucini Alfredo is creamy, and full bodied and sinful.
Take it from me, a die hard fan of Branci's and a regular, this is the spot where my family memories have been made, where my adult accomplishments are praised, and where every single person who works at the establishment is sincerely part of my family. Skip the fake swanky Italian joint down the street, grab a table on the corner and know this is where good food, good people, and a love of life all meet. Tell them Bianca sent you, and if you happen to be in on a Sunday around five, I'll be on the patio with a smoke, a glass, and a big smile, say hi.
Great service, great food, great atmosphere!! Can't go wrong. The garlic bread is delicious and the baked ziti is a healthy size and delicious. Not a bad selection of wine either. Best meatballs in San Diego county that I can find.
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