Francesca’s – A Taste of Northern Italy in South Temecula

Elmer Diaz

It was a match made in heaven. He hails from Rome, she from Naples. Alessio di Sabatino and his mom and dad moved to San Francisco from Italy in 1996 and from there moved to Los Angeles. He immersed himself in the restaurant business, working at upscale venues like the Peninsula Hotel and the Beverly Hills Country Club before moving to Orange County in 1999. He climbed the ladder, working in the kitchen, as a bartender at Dolce, Villa Roma and others before finally becoming General Manager at Valentina. Two years later at Valentina he met Francesca, and the rest is history. She had been in the restaurant business for twenty years. They discovered they shared the same goals and passions, married and moved to Temecula.

Alessio & Francesca

The first thing that struck them was the area’s resemblance to Tuscany… “the vineyards, the horses and the wild Old Town.” Temecula felt like home. After working at a few area restaurants, they decided to spread their wings and open their own place. In September, 2007, they opened the doors to Francesca’s Italian Kitchen. Highway 79 South was still fairly “raw” as Alessio puts it, but that was part of the appeal. They wanted to be the first, not the last.

There have been a lot of changes at Francesca’s over the years. “We’re evolving” says Francesca. There’s now a full bar with happy hour from 4 – 6pm Sunday through Thursday and from 8 – 10pm Friday and Saturday. Future plans include an outdoor patio with flowers. They have just added a dance floor and will celebrate Alessio’s birthday on May 14 & 15 with live music and dancers from Arthur Murray Dance.

They believe in keeping the menu fresh and seasonal. These days you’ll find Chilean Sea Bass and zucchini blossoms available to name a few. Many of the area’s Italian restaurants offer the cuisine of Southern Italy. At Francesca’s the menu is authentic Northern Italian food “made fresh every day, homemade, from the bread to the dressing to the sauces. Everything is done with passion. We’re always here.”

Alessio has been offering cooking classes since nearly the beginning and is now conducting them at wineries with the next one slated for Doffo Winery in late May. Alessio believes the marriage of Italian and Argentine cuisine will be sensational. Francesca’s also has a wine club offering its members wines from different regions of Italy each month. Wine is a crucial element of Francesca’s and they pride themselves on supporting the region’s local wineries. They are also very active in their support of local events like youth soccer and schools.

Linguini with Clams

Food is the star at Francesca’s and it is fresh and vibrant. Francesca and Alessio and charming and graceful hosts. They do their best to make you feel like one of the family. I hope you’ll stop in soon.

Francesca’s Italian Kitchen, open seven days a week at 31165 Temecula Parkway in Temecula. (951) 303-3300

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