Dining Out: Tahlia’s Cucina in Nipomo

July 25, 2010


The area around the intersection of Thompson Road and Tefft Street is considered Old Town Nipomo, but there’s not much action in these parts. Plenty of empty lots. Very little retail. Most of the traffic seems headed for Jocko’s.

But on the other side of the intersection and just down the street, tucked between the Nipomo Bar and the old post office, is a relatively new Italian restaurant that seems to be bringing more traffic to this side of town. And with good reason.

Tahlia’s Cucina is a labor of love for the two brothers who operate the restaurant. Miguel Zambrano has been the chef at a number of local eateries, including a long stint at Guiseppe’s in Pismo Beach. Adolfo is the affable host and server who buzzes from table to table in the sparse dining area.

Low on atmosphere, Tahlia’s makes up for that with a menu packed with popular favorites at affordable prices. We’ve been eight or nine times so far and I don’t recall a single disappointment.

The food is a combination of seafood, pizza, and pasta. The portions are more than generous. The prices are reasonable. Service can be a bit slow when the dining room is packed, but this is Nipomo–what’s the hurry?

My current favorite dish is the Manicotti Con Pollo E Spinaci ($16), stuffed with chopped chicken breast, ricotta, spinach, and artichokes.  I had to wait a few visits before I could try the Lasagna Con Carne Besciamella ($14) because we tend to dine late and everyone had beat me to it.

The 12-inch pizzas, ($10 for most) is clearly a dinner for two. My favorite is the Pizza Mi Lito’s, loaded with pepperoni, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, sausage, and jalapenos in a nice pesto sauce.

Charlotte tends to order Rigatoni California Norte Capesante ($14), jammed with sautéed scallops, garlic, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes, served over a bed of rigatoni in a white wine cream sauce.

Friends we’ve taken to Tahlia’s also rave about the Lamb Shank En Vino Rosso ($18) and the Tortellini Cheese Al Gusto ($12). All main dishes come with your choice of soup or salad. A full mix of wine and beer is available to go along with the meal.

The dining room can be pretty crowded from 7 to 8 p.m. We’ve learned to go either earlier or later when things are a bit more quiet. It’s also an opportunity to catch up with Adolfo who loves to pull up a chair and visit when time permits–which isn’t often.

I’m glad to have a nice Italian restaurant like Tahlia’s in the neighborhood–one less trip we need to make to Arroyo Grande for dinner. We’ve seen couples share special moments over a bottle of wine and large families laughing away at familiar stories told yet again. It’s that kind of place.

Next time the wait is too long at Jocko’s, just wander down the street.

Tahlia’s Cucina, 133 S. Thompson Avenue, Nipomo. 931-0273. Tuesday Thursday, 5-9 p.m. Friday-Sunday, 4-10 p.m. Closed Mondays.