The portions seemed larger as did the crowds at this year’s Taste of Third Avenue & Art Walk in downtown Chula Vista.
The event, which took place March 15, was moved up in the calendar from its prior September date to alleviate a busy late summer/early fall slate of events already on the books of the Third Avenue Village Association.
The move seemed to create more interest. A TAVA spokesman said 80 more tickets were sold for this year’s event than the previous taste in September 2011.
This year’s event also managed to skirt the heavy late winter storm that soaked the region last weekend.
Sixteen downtown eateries participated in this year’s taste, including newcomers Italianissimo Trattoria, City Market and My Cup of Tea.
A couple of establishments from previous tastes were no longer open, which is a sad reflection of the poor economy, but overall, restaurant owners seemed upbeat about business in 2012.
“So far, so good,” said Italianissimo Trattoria co-owner Aniello Zaino, whose shop opened for business in October 2010.
Zaino and business partner Mino Puzzo’s venture is one of the downtown district’s more welcome additions, offering meticulously prepared upscale Italian cuisine. The food remains sumptuous and the atmosphere is inviting and elegant.
Diners may remember Zaino’s very popular Buon Giorno restaurant in Bonita.
Italianissimo Trattoria served mushroom ravioli and pink bow tie pasta — both excellent vegetarian dishes.
The restaurant’s menu showcases the best of local fresh ingredients, as well as Puzzo’s creativity in the kitchen.
Italian-themed eateries seem to proliferate in downtown Chula Vista, in fact. Mangia Italiano on Third offered tasters its popular spicy rigatoni fra diavolo pasta.
La Bella Pizza & Games came through with a couple of old reliables: pizza slices and hot wings. Guests had a choice of pepperoni or vegetarian and a pair of spicy chicken wings. The sauce on the hot wings measured up as mildly hot and was very tasty, as was the pizza.
Marie Callender’s surprised guests on the self-guided tour with savory rosemary chicken, potato and broccoli.
Other culinary highlights included the lemon curd and scones at My Cup of Tea, bite-size sandwiches and smoothies (while they lasted) at City Market, and the desserts and sandwiches served at Sweet Sisters, the downtown district’s newest bakery.
If the staff at Sweet Sisters hoped to make an impression with their extremely moist and delicious cakes and confections, well, they most certainly did!
And the entertainment provided by artists participating this year also was upbeat, especially from musicians, whose lively-crafted sounds echoed up and down the district for four very enjoyable hours.
Taste of Third 2012 Lineup
My Cup of Tea
Mangia Italiano on Third
El Primero Hotel
Don Pedro Taco Shop
Jimmy’s by the Park
La Bella Pizza & Games