The simple, yet elegant Margherita pizza, is a perfect example of the Pappalecco mantra of utilizing fresh, quality ingredients to create fabulous food. Photo by David Boylan
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Lick the Plate: Pappalecco brings a taste of Tuscany to Cardiff

Authentic can be a term tossed around loosely these days but there are certain situations where it really rings true, and the new Pappalecco in Cardiff run by brothers Lorenzo and Francesco Bucci is one of those.

I had an opportunity to eat my way through a good portion of their menu and can attest to the quality and freshness of the ingredients. The pizzas are especially good and the gelato is amazing. I wanted to get the backstory on Pappalecco so I sat down with Chef Lorenzo Bucci to learn more.

There is strong Tuscan connection going on at Pappalecco and also evident in your Italian last name. Can you elaborate on that connection and how it influenced the restaurant?

I love to create, within the framework of the Tuscan tradition. I include my ideas in some of our creations, especially when it comes to gelato and pastries. But everything is and remains a Tuscan product. Nobody taught me anything else but being a Tuscan chef, now it’s in my blood and I love it.

This is a family endeavor correct? Who is involved and what are your roles?

The group of people I work with are my family. They are wonderful human beings, starting from my friends in the central kitchen, the boys in the store kitchens, and the boys and girls behind the counter. Yes, my wife Patrizia and my brother work with me as well. I couldn’t do what I am doing if they weren’t with me and they didn’t believe in what I believe.

You have three locations in San Diego and Cardiff is your first North County restaurant. How did you pick Cardiff and do you have any more locations in the works for the area?

Del Mar will be next. We’ll be open in a month or so. Tuscany is very likely the most famous region in the world. There should be ‘Your Tuscan Home’ in every neighborhood all over the world.

There is an emphasis on quality fresh ingredients; can you elaborate on that philosophy?

The means to perfection is simplicity. It is much easier to control fewer and genuine ingredients, ingredients that one knows, than to put into the mix crazy things that the human palate is unfamiliar with. It always turns out better when you keep it simple. Always keep in mind two words: Mother Nature.

The pizza is fabulous and you have so many options, tell me what makes your pizza stand out?

Simplicity, that’s what stands out. Simple, genuine, as close to Mother Nature as it can be. This is what I learned in Tuscany. Less is more! Mother Nature made many miracles and she created everything we need. A great chef should keep what Mother Nature offers. Mather Nature is an endless experience of discovery. Do you know how many ingredients are in our pizza? Just five: Flour, water, yeast, salt and… love.

You also have a nice selection of Panini’s and salads, were those created based on Tuscan influences as well?

Yes, the foundation for all of our food is Tuscan based. Simple, genuine, with the best ingredients possible. This is what I learned in Tuscany. Less is more!

Your gelato is fabulous; do you make that in-house as well correct?

I make gelato daily from scratch using recipes that respect, and are inspired by, ancient artisan techniques. Chefs such as Franco, Giovanni, Simone and other Tuscan artisans (and, somewhat, geniuses) taught me everything. I paid a lot to know their secrets: I worked long nights for free!

I love that you have a nice selection of Italian white and red wines including Prosecco, which is one of my favorite sparkling wines, thank you for including that!

You are very welcome! You know, Italians drink at least a glass of wine a day. There should always be a bottle in the middle of the table. Like we say, we drink wine as a replacement to water.

Pappalecco is also open for breakfast located at 2101 San Elijo Ave., in Cardiff. Call (760) 230-2940 or visit Hours are Monday through Thursday:  7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday: 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

David Boylan is the founder of Artichoke Creative an Encinitas based integrated marketing firm. He also hosts Lick the Plate Radio that airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on FM94/9, Easy 98.1, and KSON. Reach him at or (858) 395-6905.