By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Concept Two Seven Eight, the new Hillcrest restaurant named after owner Jessica Fisher’s past apartment number in New York when she worked there as a pastry chef, is officially open for nightly dinner service. It replaces the former Tractor Room.
Chef de Cuisine Rachel Synder describes the menu concept as “New American cuisine,” which features pasta, slow-cooked chicken and dishes using locally sourced veggies. The offerings, she adds, will further expand, and weekend brunch will be introduced in mid-February. In addition, a full bar and cocktail program is in place. 3687 Fifth Ave., 619-278-0080.
North Park resident Dennis Bartelmo has cracked into the local retail market with limoncello and orangecello liqueurs he produces in Ensenada, Mexico. The products recently became available in 375 ML bottles at Mona Lisa in Little Italy, KNB Wine Cellars in Del Cerro, Hub Liquor in Pacific Beach and a few other outlets.
“I have a lot more potential retailers in the pipeline,” said Bartelmo, who first began making limoncello as a hobbyist from his kitchen 10 years ago before the late Ramona winemaker, William Holzhauer, urged him to go into business.
“It’s from an old family recipe, but the orangecello is my own creation,” he said.
The bottles sell commercially for $27 to $40 and ring in at 40 percent alcohol by volume. bartelmolimoncello.com.
The bar and culinary team from Trust restaurant on Park Boulevard in Hillcrest is gearing up to open Hundred Proof several blocks up the street, in the space formerly occupied by S&M Sausage and Meat. Due to arrive in spring, the establishment will feature “old-school” dining booths, indoor-outdoor seating and offer lunch and dinner daily and brunch on weekends. Libations will include handcrafted cocktails, boozy milkshakes and assorted boilermakers (shots with beer chasers). 4130 Park Blvd., trustrestaurantsd.com.
Famed chef Javier Plascencia announced on Jan. 3 that he will leave his executive chef positions at Bracero Cocina de Raiz in Little Italy and Romesco in Bonita, where he gained media accolades over the years for his creative fusions of Baja-Mediterranean cuisine. Plascencia oversees several establishments in Mexico, including the acclaimed Mision 19 in Tijuana’s vibrant Zona Rio District.
A statement he released said in part: “Going into the new year, I will be taking time to focus on my restaurants in Tijuana, Valle de Guadalupe, as well as a new project I have in the pipeline in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur.”
South Park resident Jason Swinford has added a 400-square-foot tasting room and bottle shop to his Mission Gorge distillery, Swinford Spirits, which produces whiskey, gin and vodka. The latter is contained in self-infuser bottles, allowing consumers to flavor the vodka with spices, fruits and teas. The tasting room allows visitors to consume onsite a total of 1 1/2 ounces of the spirits (either straight up or in cocktails). It’s open from noon to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. 5980 Fairmount Ave., 844-933-7465, swinfordspirits.com.
Locals and their friends or family members arriving into town via San Diego International Airport are entitled to a glass of beer or wine at half off the regular price at 57 Degrees if they show their boarding passes at the bar. Located in Middletown, the spacious establishment also recently introduced several new fall-winter dishes by New Orleans native, Esteff DeFelice. They include fried green tomatoes, sesame-crusted seared ahi, PEI mussels, and house-made chocolate mousse. 1735 Hancock St., 619-234-5757, fiftysevendegrees.com.
Blue Bridge Hospitality, which operates Liberty Public Market in Point Loma, has reconfigured its anchor Mess Hall Restaurant to accommodate three new concepts: a fast-casual food and drink area called Mess Hall Bar, the Grape Smuggler Bar featuring wine and tapas, and Pi Bar, which specializes in rectangular Roman-style pizzas. The market, which opened in March, is currently home to 30 vendors. 2820 Historic Decatur Road, libertypublicmarket.com.
—Frank Sabatini Jr can be reached at email@example.com.