Dolores between Ocean and Seventh, Carmel
With Jason Balestrieri as partner and chef busting out house-cured salumi plates and hand-crafted pastas like the pappardelle alla bolognese— a decadent housemade egg yolk pasta with a traditional sauce consisting of ground salumi, veal and beef with tomatoes, white wine, porcini mushrooms and sage—this hallmark could win for best Italian. Instead it wins in a more competitive category: Best in 1-million-restaurants-per-capita Carmel. That tells you how good the Italian wine selection—and the grilled octopus! The oozing fresh burrata cheese! The bianca pizza! The chestnut rigatone!—really is. The urban buzz, authentic old-world eats and the wonderful Italian-born general manager Emanuelle Bartolini in the front of the house makes you forget where you are, and to remember to keep coming back.