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Hot News: What’s New in San Diego Dining

Find out about restaurant openenings, renovations, menu innovations and updates in San Diego this winter.

RESTAURANT OPENINGS

  • In November 2012, Monello opened in downtown's Little Italy neighborhood, located next door to Bencotto Italian Kitchen, its sister restaurant. Reflecting the owners' immigration from Northern Italy to America, the menu offers creative interpretations of Northern Italian street food. Executive Chef Fabrizio Cavallini's menu features a variety of fresh baked breads, polenta dishes, homemade pasta, flatbreads, pizza, roasted meats and seafood as well as gelato, sorbet and baked desserts. Monello also features an "aperitivo" program, which pairs cocktails with small bites of food. Craft cocktails selections feature a housemade vermouth from a 27-ingredient secret recipe brewed by mixologist Jennifer Queen. Boutique wines on tap, beer and "tastes from the cook," bite-sized nibbles created to complement the wine and cocktails, complete Monello's apertivo offerings. Monello's interior blends Old World trattoria elements with modern, chic design.
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  • In January 2013, The Blind Burro will open in downtown San Diego's East Village neighborhood. Taking inspiration from San Diego's border culture and celebrity chef Rick Bayless, Executive Chef Sara Polczynski will create a menu highlighting authentic yet modern Mexican street food with an emphasis on local sustainable seafood that will be heavily influenced by the Baja region. A native San Diegan, Polczynski is currently studying with Bayless as part of an annual intensive cooking class and culinary immersion program in Baja for food professionals. In addition to serving Baja-inspired cuisine, The Blind Burro will feature a spirits program highlighting mezcal and tequila.
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  • In December 2012, Roseville Cozinha will open in the bayfront Point Loma neighborhood. The family-style dining venue will draw upon Point Loma's rich history as a popular fishing peninsula along with owner Michael Alves' Italian and Portuguese heritage. Formerly the executive chef at San Diego hotspot Craft & Commerce, Executive Chef Craig Jimenez will create a menu of Portuguese cuisine utilizing Italian flavors and techniques. Offerings will include pizza, porchetta and roasted chicken baked in a wood-burning stone oven. Alves and Jimenez are collaborating with Pete Balistreri, Executive Chef of Tender Greens Point Loma, to develop a house-made salumi program. Additionally, they are collaborating with Maurice DiMarino, Certified Sommelier of San Diego's Cohn Restaurant Group, to cultivate a wine list of boutique Portuguese and Italian wines to complete the dining experience. Craft cocktails will also be available.
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  • In November 2012, Chaplos opened on Cortez Hill in downtown San Diego. Blending Prohibition era décor with modern styling, Chaplos' elegant setting features contemporary fabric walls and plush seating complemented by vintage accents of authentic Tiffany lamps and a dark mahogany bar from the 1920s. Executive Chef Norma Martinez, formerly of El Vitral in downtown San Diego, creates an old-meets-new menu featuring eclectic gourmet twists on classic American favorites. Standout menu items include a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with bleu cheese, salt-crusted baked pear, crispy prosciutto and arugula, and a Jidori chicken served with spicy tomato sauce, snow peas, grilled polenta and basmati rice. Chaplos offers wine on tap, local craft beers, classic cocktails and a variety of signature drinks inspired by the twenties.
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  • Sycamore Den, a cocktail venue, is slated to open in Feb. 2013 in the up-and-coming Normal Heights neighborhood. The inspiration behind Sycamore Den's nostalgic design is a modern take on the late 1970's middle-class family living room, complete with a fireplace, wood paneling and macramé. Guests can grab a classic cocktail and gather with friends while enjoying live folk music. Mixologist Eric Johnson, formerly of the popular Noble Experiment, will design and oversee the cocktail program, focusing on a contemporary preparation of the classics.

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BREW NEWS

  • San Diego's number of local craft breweries continues to climb to 60 current facilities. In September 2012, Offbeat Brewing Co. opened in Escondido in San Diego's inland North County. Offbeat brews up creative varieties of hoppy ales and sessionable brews and showcases local artists in their brewing space. Also in September 2012, Fezziwig's Brewing Company opened in the coastal community of Carlsbad in San Diego's North County. Fezziwig's facility is inspired by a steampunk aesthetic and brews porters, winter wheats and barrel-aged among other styles of beer. In November 2012, Helm's Brewing Company opened in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood of San Diego. Designed to appeal as much to the average consumer as to the beer connoisseur, the Helm's tasting room includes two 46" televisions to watch sports and features full views of the brewery facility. Unique beer offerings include a red India Pale Ale and Beeruccino, a malt recipe porter.
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  • San Diego brewers earned a total of 15 medals at the Great American Beer Festival held in October in Denver, Co. The Lost Abbey and Pizza Port breweries took home the most collective medals of the San Diego-based breweries, with Pizza Port claiming gold for Session Beer, Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout and Oatmeal Stout and a bronze medal for Imperial Red Ale. The Lost Abbey received gold for Belgian and French-Style Ale, silver for American-Style Sour Ale and bronze for Experimental Beer and Indigenous Beer. Green Flash Brewing Co. received top honors for American-Belgo-Style Ale and Belgian-Style Abbey Ale and a silver medal for Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout. The annual beer competition saw more than 4,000 entries by 666 breweries from around the nation.
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  • In November 2012, San Diego-based Ballast Point Brewery took home two awards from Europe's beer community. The brewery's signature Calico Amber Ale was awarded a bronze medal in the inaugural Brussels Beer Challenge. Ballast Point's Calico Amber Ale also won a gold medal in the "English-style bitter" category at the ninth annual European Beer Star competition in Munich.

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TASTY TIDBITS

  • In November 2012, La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla announced the appointment of Paul McCabe to the position of Executive Chef. A renowned chef in San Diego's culinary scene, McCabe previously served as Executive Chef of Delicias and Kitchen 1540 in L'Auberge Del Mar Resort & Spa. McCabe appeared at the James Beard House in 2000, 2001 and 2006 and is also a member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs. Beginning in 2013, McCabe is expected to debut new culinary concepts at La Valencia's dining venues, formerly known as the Whaling Room and the Mediterranean Room.

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FOODIE EVENTS

  • From downtown San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter to the beaches of La Jolla and Coronado and beyond, visitors to San Diego can find amazing deals at top San Diego restaurants during San Diego Restaurant Week, Jan. 13 – 18, 2013. The six-day celebration provides food lovers the opportunity to explore the region's exciting dining scene for a fraction of the normal cost with special three-course, prix fixe dinner menus for just $20, $30 or $40 per person (beverages, tax and gratuity not included) at more than 180 participating restaurants. A recent addition to San Diego Restaurant Week is the lunch program, which gives daytime diners the opportunity to feast on special two-course, prix-fixe lunch menus for just $10, $15 or $20 per person (beverages, tax and gratuity not included) at participating restaurants. Tickets or special passes are not required; however, reservations are recommended. The full list of participating restaurants and their menus will be posted online in advance of the event.

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Happiness is calling in San Diego. For more information on San Diego's offerings, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority's website at www.sandiego.org or call 619-236-1212.

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