It's a good thing that Damien Devine liked to put spaghetti in his sandwiches as a child. Otherwise, San Diego may never have known the glory of the Torpasta, a hollowed-out Italian roll stuffed with various pasta dishes.
This unique method was discovered during fourth grade lunch in the school cafeteria when Devine carved a hole in a roll and filled it with his spaghetti. A light bulb went on when he noticed the roll held together the otherwise slippery noodles and sauce that often fell from bread slices.
Today, Devine serves a variety of Torpastas in a Point Loma restaurant called Devine Pastabilities. Fillings include the likes of hearty meat lasagnas, fettuccini Alfredo with broccoli, jumbo cheese ravioli, and other tasty favorites. To accommodate such decadence, the center of a long Italian roll is removed with the swift actions of a serrated knife while leaving one end intact (it's a wonder how they avoid cutting the sides) before being toasted and packed full of goodness.
Yes, it's a festival of carbohydrates. Staff members sport "I love carbs" T-shirts and no bread is wasted. (The cutout roll centers are toasted with butter and garlic and served with marinara sauce as the breadhole appetizer.)
"My favorite sandwich is the Divino with chicken," Devine admits. It's similar to the most popular order, the Creamy Pesto and Sundried Tomato (fresh pesto and sundried tomato in Alfredo over bow tie pasta) with chicken but with fresh basil and feta cheese. He points out that customers also have flexibility when ordering such as dialing up the heat or garlic in the sauces or adding a protein like shrimp, vegan meatballs, chicken or sausage.
The delicious Meatball (classic spaghetti and meatballs in marinara) was my first Torpasta and I opted to go big with the mozzarella cheese extra. Why cut corners in a place like this? Humanity has been dipping bread in pasta sauce for ages but these sizable sandwiches do the work for you by automatically absorbing it into the slightly toasted sides somehow without becoming soggy.
Knocking one of these sandos back requires patience. They're rich and decently sized but it's hard to stop after the first bite. Custom metal holders (unless you order to-go) allow the Torpasta to be served vertically in a rocketship-like stance so the filling stays in place - a nice resting spot when a breather is necessary.
Have no fear, there is a lower carb option. Gourmet salads like antipasto and BBQ chicken are stuffed into Italian rolls and called a - you guessed it - Torsalad. Devine Pastabilities' menu also includes a variety of pizzas, gluten-free penne pasta, as well as a selection of local craft beers and wine.
"We're definitely a one-of-a-kind restaurant," Devine said. We'd have to agree.
Katie Dillon is a lifestyle and travel writer who believes that one of the best ways to explore a city is through its food and drinks. Follow her adventures on social media at @lajollamom and send any tasty ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.