Ensenada Restaurant Scene

Di Toni's
BY: CHUCK WAGON

A very small jewel set on a side street in Ensenada serving Tuscan food was our destination coming from Rosarito. Going south on the toll road and continuing on Ensenada’s main street you will pass a large McDonald’s.  Make a left when you see a taco cart and drive down a few feet until you see his sign.

This very tiny eatery has a large menu that is explained to each and every diner after they are seated. This was my first experience with the owner, Toni, talking about every dish he serves including the specials of the day. He answers any and all questions about his food as well as his beginnings as a chef and you’re made to feel as if you have known him for years. The décor of the place is warm and woodsy as if you are having dinner in his very own home. Toni is a charming man with Italian/American parents who has lived and worked as a chef in Italy, San Francisco and other areas where Italian food is appreciated. He came to Mexico, saw this small building that he knew he could renovate, and Di Tony’s was born.

His restaurant is possibly 150 square feet with a very small kitchen, but crammed with three people creating incredibly delicious food. All his bread and focaccias are made in house along with his signature Tiramisu that literally melts in your mouth. He has many different kinds of pasta as well as fantastic sauces that make it very hard to choose just one.

Tuscan food has a very special flavor that I discovered on my trips to Florence and his pasta in clam sauce is as good as or possibly better than any I had in Italy. This dish is topped with many small steamed clams in a delicate clam sauce. I had the pasta with black truffles that are expensive to buy and Toni explained that white truffles are now costing six thousand dollars an ounce and therefore prohibitive to buy for food. Truffle oil used for cooking is like cheating he explains.

 He has meat specials for those of us that requite it but the main thrust of the restaurant is definitely pasta. Our appetizer of delicate and crisp calamari was served with two sauces. On our next visit I hope to experience his salad of organic greens with warm mussels infused with a delicate dressing. Watching other people eating their food was a pleasure as they called Toni to their table to complement the chef.

The restaurant can seat approximately 14 to 16 people comfortably and I am told that most days the wait for seats is long. The wine list is exceptional and the white wine that Toni chose for me was crisp and dry.

Toni serves dinner only and if you arrive just before 4 pm you might not have to wait for a table. To my mind this is an exceptional restaurant with very reasonable prices.