Something interesting I learned about Southern California after moving here is that all the shopping malls are open-air structures. With weather this nice, I guess they figure patrons don’t want to be in a windowless concrete building. Westfield Horton Plaza in the Gaslamp Quarter is no exception. The shopping center has more than 120 stores, including Macy’s and Jimbo’s Naturally (Nordstrom is closing later this month), as well as a movie theater. The five-level mall is tricky to navigate (designed that way, I’m sure) and covers six and a half city blocks in the heart of downtown. Horton Plaza has long since been a reliable place to park in the downtown area, but parking validations and pay structures have changed several times over the past few years. Currently they offer one hour free with validation before 8 p.m. The mall is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Be sure to visit adjacent newly remodeled Horton Plaza Park while you’re there.
Once you’re done power-shopping, head to Italian restaurant Osteria Panevino for some carb-loading. Panevino is the oldest Italian restaurant in the Gaslamp and employs all Italian servers (which has to be good for business – that accent tho!). The Sicilian owners have had the restaurant for 24 years in a historic building that started out as a shoe store in 1887. Their wine cellar holds more than 1,000 bottles, many of which are imported Italian wines.
Start out with a savory appetizer like the mozzarella napoleon (fresh mozzarella with grilled zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes with fresh basil) or the tartare di manzo (prime filet tartare with shallots, quail egg and shaved black truffle). I love the nuttiness of the black truffle combined with the richness of the quail yolk. Since risotto is such a pain to make at home, order the risotto radicchio e gamberetti that combines risotto with shrimp, radishes and asparagus in a white wine Parmesan cheese sauce.
Since all their pasta is made in-house (as well as the bread and dessert), try a ravioli dish like the lobster ravioli with a butter and sage emulsion sauce or the lamb-meat ravioli with a wild mushroom, garlic and rosemary sauce. You may start getting full at this point, but keep going with a meat course.
The ossobucco milanese is a tender veal shank braised with red wine and served with veggies and saffron risotto, and the Chilean sea bass is pan-seared in a garlic white wine sauce and comes with lobster mashed potatoes. Both are fantastic dishes and neither require the use of a knife. Don’t leave without trying a dessert like the tiramisu or creme brulee, and maybe a glass of limoncello or negroni. Buon appetito!