mail

Restaurant Reviews

Backseat dining

By Frank Sabatini Jr.        

It was a reservation for two.

“We have the car for you,” said the hostess to our bewilderment, while leading us toward the rear section of the warehouse-style dining room and past a busy, open kitchen.

Within moments a shiny red Fiat perched a couple feet off the ground came into view. Its front seats were missing and the side doors were ajar. Implanted inside was our table, an attention-getting perch that sent my tall spouse into a moment of panic.

Read More

A carnivore’s paradise

Posted: July 7th, 2017 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. | Restaurant Review Their goal was to take the mystery out of meat by showing consumers how regionally sourced free-range livestock is broken down for consumption, with few parts excluded. After generating revenues through crowdsourcing, Trey Nichols and James Holtslag opened their dream business, an educational butchery named The Heart & Trotter in North Park.

Read More

Grapes, suds and coffee

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

The most commonly asked question by first-time visitors to Negociant Urban Winery is, “Do you make the wines here?”

According to co-owner John Rinaldi, their jaws often drop when he answers “Yes,” despite stacks of wooden barrels forming the backdrop to a modest-size tasting room and wine-making facility that formerly housed a tanning salon.

Read More

Endangered species

By Frank Sabatini Jr. | Restaurant Review

We were seven strong, a modern family of two same-sex couples, two high-achieving college girls we collectively and proudly call our daughters, and their grandmother visiting from Missouri.

If this were 1971, when Bully’s East — which now has “Prime Bistro Sports Bar” tagging the name — we’d be paying only 15 cents for bottomless coffee and $4.50 for prime rib with side dishes. We would have also been brunching in an insufferably discriminating climate, no matter where. (I’ll take today’s prices any day with the bonuses of freedom and acceptance.)

Read More

Sticky fingers

Posted: June 9th, 2017 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. Despite small price hikes over the past couple of years, Rose Donuts ranks among the cheapest places in San Diego to consume a hefty well-made sandwich plus a sugary treat and beverage of choice for as little as $5.45 — and at any time of the day or night.

Read More

Vegan suppers inspired from the heartland

Posted: May 26th, 2017 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. The term “Midwest comfort food” conjures up images of gravy-smothered meats, cheesy casseroles and butter-loaded desserts. They’re precisely the kinds of dishes Roy Elam grew up eating outside of St. Louis until becoming a vegan 12 years ago. Since then, he’s headed the kitchens of two vegan restaurants in the Los Angeles area, helped open a vegan eatery in Bahrain, and sadly lost his mother to breast cancer, which led him […]

Read More

Captivating cuisine from India’s tropics

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Forget the pakoras, naan bread and chicken tikka masala flaunted in most Indian restaurants. Those are standard provisions from the country’s northern regions far removed from the menu choices at Flavors of Mayura, which specializes in a rare lineup of dishes common to India’s tropical southwest province of Kerala. (Mayura is a Sanskrit word for peacock.)

Indeed, you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere things like ultra-thin dosa crepes made with a batter of rice and lentils and stuffed with turmeric-kissed potatoes. Dramatic in size, they sport the length and girth of a loosely rolled-up wall poster.

Read More

Let them eat soup (at Nordstrom)

Posted: April 14th, 2017 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. It was one of those rare times that I took myself to lunch at a cost nearing what I’d pay for dinner in a moderately priced restaurant — $27 plus tip, to be exact. For at least two decades I’ve heard from shoppers with loose purse strings about Nordstrom’s lovely third-floor restaurant, Marketplace Cafe, and its renowned tomato-basil soup, in particular.

Read More

Corned beef for the birthday boy

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

My spouse’s birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day and I’ll be damned if I take another chance cooking him corned beef for the occasion. For two years in a row, they’ve yielded gross amounts of incorrigible fat. This time around, he gets homemade lasagna with a green candle in the middle.

Though in the week leading up to the celebration, we sated our corned beef desires over brunch at McGregor’s Grill & Ale House, which opened a stone’s throw away from Qualcomm Stadium, 20 years ago.

Read More

Curry cravings

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Thai restaurants tend to sneak onto the landscape without any hoopla and then take months to discover if you don’t have a friend who’s an addict to drunken noodles to tell you about them.

Such is the case with Veganic Thai Café, which opened quietly more than a year ago in the heart of Hillcrest, where House of Khan resided briefly, and Mama Testa before that. Given its understated signage and a general lack of buzz, it’s easy to overlook.

Read More

San Diego’s big Persian buffet

Posted: February 17th, 2017 | Features, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

As with most commercial buffets, the food is mediocre, if not lousy, and I invariably get caught in line between a slowpoke in front of me and an aggressive raven breathing down my neck from behind.

In comparison, my recent experience at the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at Sufi Mediterranean Cuisine revealed some winning dishes, and without any jam-ups or arms reaching over mine as I thrice sailed down the tread.

Read More

A tribute to Kensington’s ‘play caves’

Posted: January 20th, 2017 | Features, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

The story behind The Haven Pizzeria’s name is a strange one.

For those unfamiliar with the existence of a maze of caves residing some 70 feet beneath a nearby home, a visit to the restaurant’s gender-neutral restroom provides a couple photos of the tunnels that once attracted neighborhood kids and their elders with ping pong tables, a slide connecting one cave room to another, and a refrigerator stocked with sodas.

Read More