By Frank Sabatini Jr
Champagne expert Dustin Jones of Skurnik Wines will head up an informative tasting of French Champagne from 7 to 10 p.m., Dec. 22, at The Wine Lover in Hillcrest. Guests can drop in at any time during the indoor-outdoor event to sample four pours featuring three whites and one rosè, all hailing from within France’s Champagne province. The cost is $35 per person. 3968 Fifth Ave., 619-294-9200, thewineloversd.com.
This writer’s spouse recently discovered (and purchased online) what Bon Appètit magazine rated as “the best panettone in existence.” Coincidentally, so did local restaurateur Matteo Catteneo, who is carrying the tall-standing Italian sweet bread for the month of December at Buona Forchetta in South Park, as well as Officine Buona Forchetta in Liberty Station.
Known as “Panettoni from Roy,” the cupcake-shaped loaves are made in the Bay Area by famed pastry chef Roy Shvartzapel, who has revolutionized the ubiquitous holiday confection with wild yeast, top-quality pistachios and dried fruits, pearl sugar and dough that requires 40 hours to cure and proof. The result is an unusually airy panettone that melts in your mouth and transcends commercial brands.
Catteneo sells it at his restaurants for $15 a slice or $65 for a whole loaf, which weighs 2.2 lbs. Consumers can also purchase it online for $50 a loaf (plus delivery) at thisisfromroy.com.
Farm-to-table advocate Trish Watlington is selling her long-established restaurant, The Red Door, along with her newer, adjoining venture, Bar by Red Door. Both are lauded for serving locally sourced produce (some from Watlington’s Mt. Helix garden) and sustainable proteins.
The forthcoming owner is Luciano Cibellia, a native of Milan, Italy, and an accomplished chef who has cooked in kitchens across Europe and in New York City. He too eschews big distributors and uses only ingredients that can be traced.
The sale is expected to close in February and we’re told that Cibellia will keep The Red Door name, at least until the community gets to know him. The businesses will stay open through the transition, after which Watlington plans on remaining active in the food community while continuing to support local growers through Farm-to-Fork Week, which is next scheduled for Jan. 14–21. 741 W. Washington St., 619-295-6000, thereddoorsd.com.
Fresh Catch Fish Market & Grill in Hillcrest has been replaced by Saporè, a white-tablecloth Italian restaurant specializing in seafood, pasta and brick-oven pizzas. Owner Brad Auerbach opened the restaurant after working in the restaurant and seafood industries for nearly 30 years. He was with an Italian restaurant in Boston for eight years and also owned The Ranch Deli in Rancho Santa Fe.
Saporè also features a retail section of fresh seafood sold by the pound. Auerbach sources much of it from established contacts in the Boston area. 3650 Fifth Ave., 619-642-0202, saporedining.com.
Matt Sieve of Madison on Park in University Heights has created a new food window for the neighborhood bar next door, Park & Rec. The service operates under the name Renegade and carries a retro ’80s vibe through nostalgic music and movie references as well as dishes such as assorted Tater Tots, shell pasta mac n’ cheese and various grilled sandwiches. The window is open from 5 to 10 p.m. daily and will eventually offer brunch. 4612 Park Blvd., 619-795-9700, parkandrecsd.com.
Roman transplant Sergio Torrisi has taken over the shuttered Royal Stone restaurant in Bankers Hill to launch Mia Trattoria, where he says the Italian bill of fare is “real – not Americanized.” He is joined by his father, Ivan, who ran a piano bar and restaurant in Rome before moving here.
“Everything is made from scratch, the bread, pasta and sauces,” Torrisi said, adding that he gave the space a minor makeover before opening Dec. 1.
The lunch-dinner menus include dishes such as potato-leek soup, saffron risotto, chicken piccata, rosemary lamb chops and numerous pasta dishes. 3401 First Ave., 619-230-5283, miatrattoriasd.com.
The recent closing of Spitz Mediterranean Street Food in Hillcrest will give way to Fifth Avenue Kitchen & Tap in the coming months. Described by the property brokerage firm, Location Matters, as “a fun bistro-style sports bar,” the project is the brainchild of buyer Ron Crilley, who also owns The Kraken in Cardiff and OC Tavern in San Clemente. The indoor-outdoor establishment will feature New Orleans-inspired cuisine. 3515 Fifth Ave.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.