Uptown Food Briefs – June 3

Posted: June 3rd, 2016 | Featured, Food & Drink, Uptown Food Briefs | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

After a six-year run, The Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge in Mission Hills will close June 20 in preparation for a bar-focused establishment yet to be named. Owner Trish Watlington, who also owns the adjoining Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar, said “Wellington’s beef-heavy menu no longer fits our commitment to local sourcing.” Her decision to re-brand was fueled also by the lack of a “true cocktail bar in Mission Hills.”

Wellington Steak and Martini loungeweb

Reinvention is coming to a popular establishment in Mission Hills. (Courtesy of PlainClarity)

The business is slated to reopen in July, with mixologist Brandt Stenberg overseeing the bar program, and executive chef Miguel Valdez introducing a menu of small plates. 741 W. Washington St., 619-295-6000,

The much-anticipated Cucina Sorella in Kensington opened May 26 with a menu focusing on crafty pasta dishes made in-house. Owner Tracey Borkum previously ran Kensington Grill and Fish Public in the space, which has been redesigned for the new concept. Helming the kitchen is chef de cuisine Daniel Wolinsky, a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, who worked in multiple restaurants around New York City and learned the art of pasta-making from famed chef Massimo Bottura of the Netflix series, “Chef’s Table.” 4055 Adams Ave., 619-281-4014,

Poke-North Parkweb

A new poke eatery is coming to “downtown” North Park. (Photo by Ken Williams)

The poke craze, which seems to be a hot trend in San Diego, will soon be coming to North Park. Poki One N Half has leased space on University Avenue, just east of 30th Street. A colorful sign covers the front of the building, showing oversized images of bowls of fresh seafood with slices of avocado, scallions and other ingredients.

The sign states:“What is Poki? Poki (or Poke), a Hawaiian delicacy, is a delicious salad bowl served with fresh seafood and a variety of ingredients. Poke in the Hawaiian language literally means ‘to cut or slice.’Here at Poke One N Half, we offer you four types of bases, seven types of seafood and over ten types of toppings and various sauces to choose from. We will help you find that ONE perfect combination to satisfy your taste buds! We promise the highest quality and the freshest ingredients to bring you the best Poki experience.”

No opening date is listed, other than “coming soon.” 3030 University Ave.,

Labor Day will mark the end of a 14-year run for Shades Oceanfront Bistro in Ocean Beach, which has provided a dog-friendly environment with ocean views for customers under the co-ownership of Jeff Levitt and his wife, Michelle. The couple summed up in a newsletter to customers that it was time to rest and move on.

After Sept. 5, the restaurant will be renamed the OB Surf Lodge by a trio of new owners who hold various stakes in other local restaurants and bars such as Wonderland Ocean Pub a floor above, plus Bayside Landing, Resident Brewing Company, and The Local. The menu will remain focused on breakfast dishes with much of the same staff in place, and canines will still be welcome. 5083 Santa Monica Ave., 619-222-0501,

If you haven’t visited any of Little Italy’s hottest new restaurants, the upcoming Taste of Little Italy allows you to sample their fare within a single evening, from 5 – 9 p.m., June 15. More than 35 restaurants are taking part, including the neighborhood’s most recent arrivals: Bracero Cocina de Raiz, Herb & Eatery, The Crack Shack, Café Gratitude and more. They’ll be joined by established favorites such as Café Zucchero, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, Indigo Grill and others.

The event offers consumers two different tasting routes (north and south) with about 20 bars and restaurants contained in each, and all within walking distance of each other. The cost is $36 per route if purchased in advance, and $43 at the ticket booths. For more information, call the Little Italy Association of San Diego at 619-233-3898 or visit

Krisp Beverages + Natural Foods in the East Village recently launched a pizzeria within the store for making pies that can be delivered, carried out or consumed on the store’s newly built dining patio. Specialty pizzas cost $15; slices sell for $2.50. The dough is made with high-quality Italian flour and undergoes a 48-hour rise. 1036 Seventh Ave., 619-232-6367,

A secret location within the historic US Grant Hotel marks the setting for a speakeasy Tiki party to be held from 6 – 9 p.m. June 18. The island-theme event will feature Polynesian hors d’oeuvres by executive chef Mark Kropczynski; Tiki cocktails by chef de bar Cory Alberto; and a rum bar sponsored by Mount Gay Rum. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased on 326 Broadway, 619-232-3121.

Coffee roasted in small batches is the specialty at Achilles Coffee Roasters in Cortez Hill, which opened recently with a variety of brews named after various areas of San Diego. The shop sources its beans from Mexico, South America, Africa and Indonesia, and also uses green coffee beans from Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica. Noshes include pastries and quiche. 703 Ash St., 415-215-5605,

Fans of Jsix have bid a fond farewell to executive chef Christian Graves, who moved to Denver with his family in early June “for a change of pace” after working at the restaurant for 10 years. The search for a replacement is underway, although Graves crafted a summer menu before departing and it will stay in place for the next few months. The lineup includes donut-peach salad with burrata; thyme-roasted chicken with leek puree; and ravioli filled with ricotta and sweet peas. Graves plans on looking for a new gig after settling into his new home. 616 J St., 619-531-8744,

Salvucci’s Ristorante recently opened in the East Village to a menu of Italian-American dishes that include chicken piccata, spaghetti with clams, house-made meatballs, lasagna and other classic recipes originating from two different Italian families with Boston roots. The restaurant, located in the space that formerly housed Comun Taqueria, was launched by the RMD Group, which also operates Rustic Root and Don Chido in the Gaslamp Quarter. 935 J St., 619-255-1112,

More than 40 restaurants are taking part in the 22nd annual Taste of Gaslamp, which runs from 1 – 4 p.m. June 26. The self-guided walking tour will also feature receptions and open houses at various art galleries and museums located throughout the historic neighborhood. Establishments that will dole out food and drink samples include Café 21, Nobu Restaurant, The Field, 1919, Café Sevilla, Quad Ale House, Blue Point Coastal Cuisine, and more.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 on the day of the event. In addition, VIP passes are available for $75, which include access to exclusive receptions and special wine and beer tastings.

Guest check-in will be located at Pocket Park, 410 Island Ave. For more information, call the Gaslamp Quarter Association at 619-233-5227 or visit

Vino Carta Wine Store and Barweb

The Little Italy wine story that doubles as a wine bar pours off-menu picks on Fridays. (Courtesy of Vino Carta Wine Store and Bar)

Little Italy’s Vino Carta Wine Store and Bar, which had a soft opening in March, has just introduced happy hour from 5 – 7 p.m. every Friday. The weekly deal, co-hosted by winery reps, affords customers four wines (averaging 3 ounces each) for $10 a person. They are mostly labels not found on the regular wine list. Vino Carta doubles as a wine bar and retail shop and also sells packaged cheeses from Venissimo, although customers are permitted to bring in their own food when drinking onsite. In addition, there are no corkage fees on Mondays. 2161 India St., 619-564-6589,

—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at

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