Green restaurant review

Worth It!

A visit to Trattoria Acqua in La Jolla

by Michael Oshman
oing work with Green Restau- rants is one of the best jobs a person can have; but one of the downsides is being limited to doing environmental audits and not being able to sample the food at the same time. To concentrate on world change when the more immediate senses are tempted is a trial I face often. Yet, for this column, I got to experience all the delights of one of San Diego's most prized as well as green restaurants: Trattoria Acqua, nestled in tourist-central up from the Cove in La Jolla.

With Carolyn Chase, editor of this newspaper, as my dining partner and Tom as our waiter, I knew I was in for a treat. Trattoria Acqua serves a tangy smooth humus to top the European bread that serves as a start to the meal. Having lived in Israel and traveled to Egypt, Greece, and Turkey, I am a bit of a humus snob, and I had never had humus at an Italian restaurant. I must say I enjoyed it here, and it was a nice touch to start my dining experience.

My one year of college Italian helped me enjoy the names of my entree options. I started with Portabello alla Griglia: the smooth, sliced large mushrooms lay on my plate as a piece of art. Smoked scamorza cheese topped the portabellos, lying over tangy caramelized onions and with a triangle of polenta guarding the corner of the plate.

The smooth texture of the mushrooms along with its zesty taste made for a good antipasto. Carolyn sampled the Melanzane al Forno, roasted baby eggplant filled with herbed goat cheese and pine nuts.

Carolyn and the waiter recommended I have the Agnolotti con Tartufo Nero, potato, leek and fontina cheese-filled agnolotti (big ravioli) with asparagus and parmigiana. Flourless pasta, fresh vegetables and good conversation made for a nice relaxing evening. The sauces were not overdone. The skill of the chefs was obvious as they brought out the flavors inherent in the foods themselves rather than using sauces to drown out flavors. The desert was a rich Tartufo alla Rancio, a bittersweet dark chocolate truffle (thick mousse) with orange confit sauce, fresh raspberries and strawberries and whipped cream. I was pleasantly sated.

Trattoria Acqua has been a Green Restaurant since winter of this year. The final task involved the elimination of the little remaining Styrofoam and implementation of glass recycling. The owners, Mike and Victoria, have a dedication to our planet that is more than just a hobby. Mike is now the Vice Chair of the Environmental Committee of the California Restaurant Association. Last spring, Mike invited me to give a speech to the CRA Environmental Task Force. He is committed to the Green Restaurant Association's mission of making the restaurant industry a leader in the way businesses can operate in an environmentally responsible fashion. Trattoria Acqua is a celebration of the planet, with good food, good people, a view of the Pacific Ocean, and a dedication to environmental responsibility.

Eco-Tip: Bring your own container to take home leftovers when dining out. Carolyn brought her leftovers home in a reusable dish brought for that purpose.

Trattoria Acqua 1298 Prospect, La Jolla is open everyday from 11:30am-2:30pm, and for dinner during the week 5pm-9:30pm and weekends 5pm-10pm. Reservations recommended, (619) 454-0709. Every course is a gourmet delight, but bring your wallet because a dinner for two can easily be an investment of $75 without the wine. Bon Appetito.

Michael Oshman is president of the Green Restaurant Assoc., (619) 287-4261. To find a Green Restaurant near you, call the referral service at (619) 490-9695 ext. 2