La Jolla Coffee Shop – il giardino di Lilli Reviewed by Mike Mazaika

It’s difficult to capture the essence of Lilli’s as it is so much more than a coffee shop. It is both a labor of love for the founders and owners, Giuseppe and Stefania, and a gift to La Jolla in the form of an Italian garden coffee shop. They moved to La Jolla from Italy seven and nine years ago respectively, found each other through a mutual friend, and decided to create a business that would provide outstanding food in a relaxing setting, and simultaneously promote the formation of a gathering place and a modern form of community for La Jollans and visitors. 

     Stefania, with her background in interior design, created a wonderful atmosphere, based on her grandmother’s garden, one with larger open areas and some nooks and crannies allowing for more intimate moments. In addition, she incorporated her grandmother’s recipes into the menu thereby producing a delightful change from the typical fare at a coffee shop. 

     Giuseppe carefully selects ingredients that are of the highest organic quality, with the majority of his choosing imported from Italy to ensure authenticity. No item is considered unimportant. To maintain even the most basic Italian connection, the owners exert great effort in keeping it real by importing the flour AND water used in creating all their baked goods directly from the homeland. Everything they offer is prepared fresh every day by their handpicked staff, with any left overs at the end of the day being provided to those in shelters. I asked Giuseppe how he was able to hire and maintain the same staff, which is becoming rarer and rarer especially in the hospitality business, and his response was that “we work as a team, not as boss and worker.” He’s a hands-on owner doing whatever needs to be done to provide a congenial atmosphere, whether it’s cleaning tables, ordering food, or helping the baker, yet always ready to warmly greet his customers.  Excellent service is maintained, and most importantly treating one and all as welcome guests to their garden. Giuseppe and Stefania enjoy fostering the feeling that we are all welcome to this unique gathering place. I highly recommend you check it out, and enjoy the difference, it’s molto bene (meaning: “everything will be all right”).

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