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Nicolosi's - El Cajon

28 reviews
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$30 and under
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Top Tags:
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Good for Groups
  • Kid-friendly

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Welcome to Nicolosi's Italian Restaurant in Downtown El Cajon. Nicolosi's has been serving authentic southern Italian cuisine in San Diego for over 60 years. Our old country recipes as well as new favorites have made us a local favorite. Come try our housemade Lasagna, our hand made Ravioli or our Sicilian Six-Cheese Mac and Cheese. Find out what San Diegans have come to love with our famous torpedo sandwiches, meatballs, awesome pastas and delicious salads. Our pizza has consistently been voted best in San Diego and you can choose from one of our many traditional or unique combinations. A delicious basket of housemade bread comes with every meal.

Our welcome atmosphere features attentive service, a full bar and banquet facilities. Our family hopes to welcome you to Nicolosi's soon. Mangia!
Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Italian, Pizzeria, Comfort Food
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Hours of operation

Daily: 11:00am - 3:00pm

Happy Hour

Daily: 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Sunday - Thursday: 3:00pm - 8:30 pm; Friday & Saturday: 3:00pm - 9:30pm
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Phone number
(619) 444-0303
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Gino Rocca
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Private party facilities
We have a large private room for your special events and are happy to work with you to tailor your menu to your style and budget.
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Private party contact
Chris: (619) 444-0303
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Nicolosis catering is your one stop for large party take out, in house events or complete catering at your site. We offer a great selection of our family's recipes for your special event.
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Cross street
W.D Hall
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Parking details
There is street parking and a public lot in the back with easy access to the entrance.
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Special events & promotions
We specialize in special events! Whether an onsite banquet in one of our private rooms, a large take out order or a full catering program, we can put together a menu to fit your vision and budget. Give us a call today and let Nicolosi's help make your event truly special.
Banquet, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Outdoor dining, Private Room, Takeout, Wine
What 28 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.2  based on all time ratings
Noise · Moderate
93% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OpenTable Diner (San Diego)
3.0  Dined on April 22, 2016

My fiancé and I came to celebrate a special occasion. We have been here many times before and have generally always had great service. We came last Friday the 22nd at 5:30. All I can say is the food was, of course, amazing. Our server was either really busy or really scatter brained. Observing, we could also tell the rest of the ladies seemed unhappy/irritable? Anyhow, drinks weren't filled in a timely manner, greeting seemed rushed, bread took forever, and they were out of the desert we requested ( not severs fault of course). The service was impersonable. Both my fiancé and I have worked in the restaurant industry as severs, bartenders, cook, dishwasher, manager - you name it, we did it! And our rule of thumb has always been if the food is mediocre but service is awesome - we give it another chance, but if food is awesome and service is unexceptional - we most likely won't return. Sorry, We tried.

OpenTable Diner (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on February 27, 2016

The service was wonderful. Our server was very attentive and personable. Out food was wonderful and piping hot. I ordered the Chicken Penne Pasta. It was delicious. My girlfriend ordered the Linguini and Clams. She raved about it.

OpenTable Diner (San Diego)
1.0  Dined on February 14, 2016

I made reservations for lunch on valentine's day. Upon walking in, I already notice a lot of upset customers. Being Valentine's day, I expected the place to be busy but did not expect the restaurant to be under prepared for the day. Basically, the restaurant had only 2 servers working. I had reservations and couldn't even get seated. Three other parties left before I did. Maybe I'll go back to give them a second chance because I heard the food is amazing. Hopefully it was just an off day for them. It would have been nice to have had some chairs for the people who are waiting for a table but instead, we all stood - leaving customers with one foot out the door. Sorry about the rating. 1 star for now until I decide to go back again.

maryandjavi (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on July 1, 2015

Food was delicious. We had the lobster pasta and chicken piccata, respectively. A lot of food of which we took at least half home in to go boxes.
Jennifer, our server was wonderful--friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient.
Parking was easy even with the car show occurring on this evening. We found a parking space in in the parking area behind the restaurant.
We definitely would go back again.

foodhappiness (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on May 30, 2015

This is always a great restaurant to come to. We have never had a bad meal. The eggplant parm was one of the best I've ever had, the lobster mac & cheese was creamy and rich. We have had all of the appetizers and they are all wonderful!

viplucy (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on January 22, 2015

The lasagna was delicious and the portion was huge. It came we a crisp salad that was also large. our main man is Chris and love to see him every time we go.

OpenTable Diner (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on May 11, 2014

We had a Mother's Day brunch here and everything was outstanding!

Boo1966 (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on February 18, 2014

This is our favorite of all the Nicolosi's restaurants, starting with the first one that my husband frequented once or twice a week for their famous meatball sandwiches. We greatly enjoyed the lasagna...4 had the regular lasagna with marinara sauce, and luckily for me, the picky eater.... "I can't eat tomatoes or any acidic food"...the chef made his Sunday night spinach lasagna with (yummy) Alfredo sauce for me on a Tuesday night. Our 6th diner loved the chicken Marsala, but wasn't too overjoyed with the potatoes that came with it. Our waiter....also bartender, host, etc., Chris, gave us excellent and fast. The restaurant was very clean, right next to a park, and had lots of 2 hour free parking in front, which was a nice plus. We'll return!

JoeG (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on February 16, 2014

We had a delux (hold mushrooms) and it was filling, took a piece home. Good food, good value.

DaniDF (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on February 14, 2014

We came for their Vakentine's special and it was ver good. I've been at Nicolosi's before and their pizzas and pastas are fabulous.

OpenTable Diner (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on February 14, 2014

Nicolosi's compared to our other restaurant that we frequent has much better tasting food. Our waiter could have come back more often to see and ask if there was anything else that we might need or want.

casey (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on December 24, 2013

We had a very nice time at our Christmas lunch this year at Nicolosi's.
I will plan to go back and others in our group of 6 said they would too.
The food was very good and the sauces were especially tasty and clearly homemade..
One of our guests was served her dish very late and the portion size was a bit smaller than another person who ordered the same thing. I think it was due to the banquet group in the back room. This didn't negatively impact our experience.
The price was also very reasonable.

BdrsMrs (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on November 19, 2013

LOVE LOVE LOVE to come here especially on a Friday night ... the wait isn't too bad!! The Food is always GREAT but the service is lacking a lot of times!!! Seems like you have to flag a server down and the place really isn't that big :/

sambo (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on November 17, 2013

We started with salads and soup. salad had good variety of greens. Soup was clam chowder and it had good flavor, but maybe not enough clams. wife is gluten free so she ordered off that menu. she got the spaghetti/ravioli combo. she devoured it. kids ordered sandwiches: meatball was too big to finish (that's a good thing), torpedo (delicious), aflredo with chicken was so good and savory that we had to take it home for leftovers (which are even better baked a little on the re-heat). I had the spinach lasagna and I ate all of it because it was really good. Our server was attentive, and the food came out quick. Overall, it was a nice bday dinner.

baileybroad (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on August 29, 2013

Have loved the Special Torpedo for more years than I can remember. Have sent orders to friends as far as Alaska (dry ice and dressing on the side). Can't imagine living for a year without my fix.
Took four bags to relative and friends on my last visit. Love it!!!

vipDanny (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on August 23, 2013

Been eating at Nicolosi's since it was on 40th went on Friday night in El Cajon great location, with the park behind. Had one of their pizzas and it was as good as always. Nicolosi's is San Diego pizza and Italian food.

Larry (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on August 18, 2013

I have been going to Nicolosi's since I was 5 (I'm now 59). I was pleased when they re-opened their restaurant on Navajo, and even more pleased to have them right here where I live.

The food is excellent, and I like the new location. Very friendly atmosphere, too.

I will definitely be going back for more.

Rich (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on July 5, 2013

They had our reservation and the table was ready for the 5 of us. The food was very good and was a good value for the price.

foodhappiness (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on June 16, 2013

The food was wonderful! Lobster mac & cheese, out of this world!! Chicken picatta, awesome!
It was busy but the waitress was on top of it. Very friendly & thoughtful.
Already planning a return trip!

Paul (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on June 3, 2013

We had a great dinner and meeting in the semi-private dining area they reserved for us. They allowed us to pre-order enough food for a nice family-style dinner. 3 large antipasto salads, 3 large pizzas, and 6 lasagnas was our order. There was plenty of food, it was all wonderful, and the service was great!