I gained an appreciation of European cuisine from my parents who were born and raised in southern Italy. My mother taught me how to cook at a very young age with farm fresh ingredients from my father’s garden. As a nationally published and award-winning author, food and wine journalist and photographer, I’ve written several food guides and cookbooks, and reviewed chefs and restaurants all over San Diego (and beyond) for well over a decade. You can trust my latest picks for the top ten dining destinations in America’s Finest City!
Chef Patrick Ponsaty is working his magic and hypnotizing diners with show-stopping culinary art at his new restaurant aptly named Ponsaty’s in Rancho Santa Fe, California. We recently visited, took our seats in a lavish dining room that’s screams with style, and experienced a delightful 9-course menu that left us feeling as if we had just dined in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
In 2006 Carl Schroeder established San Diego’s famed Market Restaurant + Bar where he takes great local products and turns them into great food. His passion for locally sourced ingredients and hyper-seasonal cuisine are on display for dinner every evening. He seeks out the best produce, seafood, and meat from local markets and his passion for perfection and the spontaneous nature of what is available are showcased in the daily changing menu.
The new Crudo restaurant in Carmel Valley boasts Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with an Asian touch that features locally-sourced, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian menu items. Renowned chef and owner Pascal Lorange takes pride in offering diners unique, yet simple presentations that you won’t find anywhere else in San Diego.
Celebrating its 90th anniversary, La Valencia Hotel, also known as “The Pink Lady,” is a Mediterranean style oceanfront resort in beautiful La Jolla, California. Located inside this luxury hotel, The MED ocean view restaurant is home to big-league Executive Chef Alex Emery, who offers a dramatic dining experience and mans a kitchen that’s humming with precision in presentation and taste.
Open for five years now in the Kensington area of San Diego, Owner and Chef Ken Irvine says he opened Bleu Boheme because he loves neighborhood restaurants. “When my guests walk through our doors, we want to take them away to a “different place”, he says. “What sets us apart is our stellar service, quality cuisine and a unique ambiance.”
Created by a husband-and-wife team from Northern Italy, Guido Nistri and Valentina Di Pietro, with the support of Chef Fabrizio Cavallini, Monello offers a unique approach to Italian cooking. Combining their range of experiences from the restaurant business in Milano, Modena, San Diego, and New York, the philosophy at Monello is that food can be made simple and supremely delicious and that everything on the menu is prepared fresh and made to order.
Offering a seasonal and revolving menu, Chef de Cuisine Stéphane Voitzwinkler sources all of his produce from Chino Farms in Rancho Santa Fe and varies his seafood use based on what is available from local purveyors. The dining room is light and bright with floor-to-ceiling windows boasting panoramic views of San Diego Bay, Balboa Park, Coronado, Point Loma, and even the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
For casual or romantic dining experiences, Bracero Cocina de Raiz offers lively street-level dining with an open kitchen so that guests can view the artful preparation of their meal. Specialty cocktails and fresh bites can also be ordered table-side from carts. Bracero’s entire second level features an exclusive mezzanine, indoor and outdoor seating and floor-to-ceiling interactive vertical bar towers.
Gary Parker‘s The WineSellar & Brasserie never ceases to amaze me! Their new executive chef Luke Johnson is a mastermind who orchestrates a clever play with his intensely creative menu. Johnson took a break from his hard work in the kitchen to dish on the latest happenings at the restaurant as well as his move back to San Diego.
If you’re looking for a unique farm to table experience in a high energy atmosphere where people are eating and talking loudly over ingenious food and drink prepared by an unassuming young chef, then the newly opened TRUST Restaurant in Hillcrest is the place for you.