Pesto, pine nuts and what?

This has been a weird food week for me.

Most surprising was the meal I ate on Thursday night.  My mom took me to dinner at Veni Vidi Vici on 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista.  (Fair warning, their website needs some help.)

The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I sort of figured it would be a throw away meal, but we weren’t really going for the food anyway.

My mom’s friend plays the keyboard and sings in the bar there every Thursday night.  We just wanted to show some support and let the restaurant know that she can draw an audience.

I was kind of in sticker shock at the menu.  Everything seemed a little expensive considering the so-so location and lack of real atmosphere.  It’s not like a strip mall on the corner of third and Naples in West Chula Vista offers an ocean view.

That said, and because my mom was picking up the tab, I tried not to worry about the prices.

As I looked for something vegetarian, I decided I would hate myself for settling on a Caesar salad or a bowl of boring pasta as usual.  It was a different kind of night, so I wanted a different kind of entree.

I asked for the sun-dried tomato, basil pesto and goat cheese lasagna with vegetables and pine nuts.  What?  The minute our waiter left the table, I got a bad case of order regret.  Suddenly, the Caesar sounded a lot safer.

When the waiter came back, he distracted me with a green salad and plates of bread and olive oil with balsamic vinegar.  I forgot what I was saying and the waiter disappeared.  Mom and I devoured the bread.

Again the waiter returned and this time placed a large plate in front of me.  For a moment, I was mesmerized by the presentation of the food.

The plate was split in half by two pools of brightly colored sauce.  On the left was the creamy red tomato and on the right, a hearty green pesto.  They puddled together under a scattering of pine nuts.

Floating dead center was an artfully constructed white lasagna, brimming with layers of vegetables, wavy pasta and goat cheese.  It was really beautiful and really delicious.  The chef at Veni Vidi Vici is inspired.

Mom ordered prime rib and she seemed very pleased with the price, the cut and the sauce.  It didn’t look as appealing or as rare as the prime rib I remember, but I will defer to the omnivore’s assessment.  Prime rib wasn’t my favorite even when I did eat beef.

I ordered tiramisu for dessert.  I was intrigued to read on the menu that it was made with Sambuca instead of rum or a chocolate liqueur.  I can’t stand rum.  It ruins a good tiramisu for me.

Sambuca has a mellow anise flavor.  The chef dusted the dessert with cinnamon instead of cocoa, another twist.  The whole thing was very tasty.  In fact, I’d like a piece of it right this second, please.  🙂

Mom asked me a few times if I thought I would go back to this restaurant on another day.  I hate to leave that question unanswered, but truthfully, I’m not sure.

I loved the meal.  I really did, but I have a limited budget and a son who likes pancakes.  I don’t know how Veni Vidi Vici fits into that equation.  It may be that I’m just not their ideal patron.

Furthermore, if I’m going to pay more than a Denny’s dollar, I like a view with my meals.  This place is really teeny and a little short on location, location, location.

It does have a decent little formal dining room and I feel very comfortable in it, but there are no windows or expansive inside spaces to amuse the eye.  The decor is warm, but not particularly compelling.

For me then, this may not be a repeat destination, but if you like an intimate atmosphere where the entertainers talk to you, the patrons are family members and excellent food is served with real silver, then you should go there.  It’s definitely worth a try.  If you go, let me know what you think!


And just because I love you, here is photo of something.

It’s another little painting I got at the thrift store.  Do you like it as much as I do?

I have spent far too much time imagining the life lived in this little red house.

Despite the bare trees and wintery feeling of this scene, I am convinced the house’s interior is warm and cheery.  I think the artist can see it from her own humble home.

She paints near a window, then pulls on her fuzzy boots to trudge up that hill for a welcoming cup of tea with her most beloved neighbor, don’t you think?

I wish we could join them.

3 thoughts on “Pesto, pine nuts and what?

  1. Hi Becky,

    Alan’s wife here! In putting away the Christmas cards, I found yours with this site on it. Very interesting! I feel like a true Baby Boomer as this is my first Blog response! I just got done watching Julie & Julia with Cassie and thought of you the whole time. Anyway, I have a similar painting done on a tile and also am mesmerized by it. There’s a quote on it that says, “A Man that hath Friends must show himself Friendly.” Prov. 18:24 There are 2 such houses on it. Maybe if you come to Massachusetts you can see it!

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