Uptown Food Briefs – Sept. 23

Posted: September 23rd, 2016 | Featured, Food & Drink, Uptown Food Briefs | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

After a 10-plus-year run, Wine Steals in Hillcrest ceased operations on Sept. 20 due to rent and leasing issues that arose between the establishment’s owner and the property’s landlord. The 4,000-square-foot space functioned as a wine-beer bar, retail outlet and event venue, and eventually spawned three other locations of the same concept. The Liberty Station and East Village outlets shuttered over the past several years, although Wine Steals in Cardiff-by-the-Sea remains in business.

Wine Steals owner Ken Mills said he might look for an alternative location within Uptown for reopening “on a smaller scale.” 1243 University Ave.,

100 Wines Kitchen in Hillcrest closed Sept. 10 for remodeling. A public relations rep for the 4-year-old restaurant, which is owned by Cohn Restaurant Group, said the company hasn’t yet released details about the redesign or when the establishment will reopen. The website, however, hints at re-branding by stating, “Thanks for supporting us. Something new is coming soon.” 1027 University Ave.,

A popular Mexican restaurant turns back the clock on its prices for a day. (Photo by Frank Sabatini Jr.)

A popular Mexican restaurant turns back the clock on its prices for a day. (Photo by Frank Sabatini Jr.)

Visit Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant in Kensington from noon — 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25, and the meal will amount to what you’d pay the year man first walked on the moon. The restaurant, which usually is closed on Sundays, will open that day in celebration of its 47th anniversary, allowing customers to savor the original menu and its prices from 1969. A bean burrito, for example, will cost 70 cents while a three-item combo plate sells for $2.10. The deals extend to many other dishes, except for take-out items and bar drinks.

“We celebrate our anniversary in some way every year, but this is the first time we’re offering a throwback menu,” said Mikey Knab, Ponce’s director of operations.

The promotion coincides with the second day of the Adams Avenue Street Fair. 4050 Adams Ave., 619-282-4413,

House-made tiramisu based on mom’s recipe (Courtesy of Buona Forchetta)

House-made tiramisu based on mom’s recipe (Courtesy of Buona Forchetta)

Matteo Cattaneo of Buona Forchetta in South Park is putting the final touches on the restaurant’s second location in Liberty Station, which he anticipates will open in late September or early October under the name Officine Buona Forchetta. He launched the venture in conjunction with BICE San Diego, whose chef, Mario Cassineri, will oversee the pasta dishes and entrees. Cattaneo’s team is in charge of pizza making, using two ovens for slinging a variety of styles such as Neapolitan, classic, gluten-free, and rectangular family-style pies called “al metro.” In addition, Buona’s lauded tiramisu and other desserts made by Cattaneo’s mother will carry over. 2865 Sims Road,

Oz Blackaller, owner and chef of Cueva Bar (Courtesy of Oz Blackaller)

Oz Blackaller, owner and chef of Cueva Bar (Courtesy of Oz Blackaller)

Oz Blackaller of Cueva Bar in University Heights returns to the Food Network, this time in a Halloween “tournament of terror” on “Cutthroat Kitchen,” which features four preliminary matches that will run from Sept. 28–Oct. 19. The series concludes with the winners from each episode competing in a final cookoff Oct. 26.

Sworn to secrecy on the outcome, Blackaller appears in the fourth episode, in which the competing chefs used “deadly weapons” to cut steak tartare and resorted to other macabre means for preparing additional dishes. He appeared as a regular contestant on the show three years ago (season five), and plans to hold a public viewing party at 5 p.m., Oct. 19, at Cueva, for his upcoming gig. The gathering will feature tapas and drink specials. 2123 Adams Ave., 619-269-2212,

Plans are in the works for a second North Park location of Nomad Donuts, which will open in March less than a mile away from its original address at 4504 30th St. Owner Brad Keiller said the space at 3102 University Ave. is nearly five times larger and it will allow executive pastry chef Kristianna Zabala to expand the company’s rotating donut selection, while incorporating wood-fired bagels into the daily production.

“We’ll be moving our entire kitchen into the new location,” Keiller said, adding the bagels will be used for breakfast and lunch sandwiches and that Zabala will be given creative license for introducing a host of sweet and savory specials. Beer and wine will also be available. The original location will eventually convert into a coffeehouse stocked with menu items made at the new address. 619-431-5000,

The third annual Hop Heads and Dreads beer and reggae festival will be held from 2–7:30 p.m., Sept. 24, at Harrah’s Resort Southern California. The event features dozens of local and regional breweries, plus food trucks and live reggae music on two stages. Admission is $65, which includes unlimited beer tastings and a festival T-shirt. Designated drivers entering with paid guests pay only $20. 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center, 760-751-3100,

 The re-opening of Craft & Commerce in Little Italy has brought with it the annexation of False Idol, a tiki-revival bar flaunting elaborate Polynesian-style décor and more than 200 rare and vintage rums. Among the list of nearly 40 exotic cocktails served in custom-made tiki mugs is a punch-bowl creation named Alkala the Fierce, which comes with a showy eruption of a faux volcano as the banquette seats shake and rumble.

The bar, which is open daily from 6 p.m.–2 a.m., is an offshoot to Craft & Commerce’s recent renovation, which ushered in an expanded patio, a revamped kitchen, fire pit tables and taxidermy. 675 W. Beech St., 619-269-2202,

—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at

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