At first glance, Centifonti’s Bar & Restaurant—a family-owned establishment on La Mesa Boulevard—can be confusing. The second glance doesn’t help much, so here’s a quick summary: Centifonti’s is an Italian eatery that serves American-style foods washed down with German drinks followed by Swiss chocolates.
The left side has dining tables and booths; the right has display cases of baked desserts, chocolates and gelato; and the middle is an amply stocked bar where large-screen TVs show sporting events.
On festive evenings, expect to see patrons rowdily chugging the Das Boot—an in-house tradition since the 2006 La Mesa Oktoberfest—which comes in a ginormous glass boot and, when triumphantly completed, results in the bartender clanging a bell.
Food-wise, it’s all comfort all the time: Hearty appetizers ($6 to $8) include the deep-fried, cheese-filled raviolis and dipping sauce, which the menu promotes as using 100 percent rice oil that has no trans-fat. Expect to request a to-go box for the entrees (priced $10 to $14), including such staples as lasagna (gooey, meaty, cheesy) and gnocchi (doughy with rich pesto and sun-dried tomato chunks).
Other selections include soups and salads, grilled paninis, buffalo burgers and breakfasts galore. Centifonti’s began in 1995 (in a smaller location down the street ) as a specialty candy shop, and its chocolates and desserts are worthy of Willie Wonka breaking into song. $4 gets you a generous cup of tongue-tantalizing gelato, and a big chunk of fudge can be had for under $3.