Foodie Flashes | By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Look for the opening of Johnny Rivera’s Great Maple in Hillcrest sometime in February. Rivera, who co-owns The Tractor Room and Hash House a Go Go, rescued the structure that formerly housed Brian’s American Eatery from demolition and is giving it a “French dinette” makeover. He’s also obtained a liquor license and will showcase seasonal dishes. “This will be a mutation of the Great Maple concept I started in Newport Beach,” Rivera said. “The building in Hillcrest holds a lot of personal memories and I wanted to do something special with it.” 1451 Washington St.
The iconic Crest Café in Hillcrest is coming up on its 30-year anniversary beginning next month, and owner Cecelia Morena is mapping out plans to mark the celebration in April. Look for various priced specials on longtime favorites, which we hope will include the café’s famous butter burger and lemon-ricotta pancakes. 425 Robinson Ave., 619-295-2510.
Su-Mei Yu of Saffron Thai Grilled Chicken in Mission Hills is taking on the role of television host and producer of a six-segment series for KPBS that starts in mid-May. The show is titled Savor San Diego with Su-Mei Yu, and will spotlight local growers, fishermen and other chefs. Each episode will end with Yu conducting a cooking lesson. The concept was recently selected by KPBS from 50 other submissions.
An invasion of rare, Italian craft beers is occurring, nudging their way into our sudsy landscape at Cucina Urbana in Bankers Hill. Available in boldly designed, high-volume bottles, the new and growing list includes such standouts as the sweet and malty Bruton Stone-r from Tuscany; triple-Belgian Baladin Super from Piedmont; and the spicy brown Oro di Milano from Milan. The selection ranges from $8 to $38. Good luck finding them elsewhere in San Diego. 505 Laurel St., 619-239-2222.
Since expanding into Hillcrest three years ago from its original downtown location, Pappalecco coffee shop opens a third location next month in Loma Portal, replete with a full bakery and facility for making gelato. “The bakery will affect deeply all of our other locations with a bigger selection of homemade croissants, cakes, breads and gelato,” said proprietor Francesco Bucci, who launched the brand five years ago. The venture will be located at 3402 Kurtz St.
Chef Jeff Rossman of Terra American Bistro in the College Area (formerly in Hillcrest) and Bunz in Mission Valley has launched a “chef’s table” at the bistro for 12 guests every Thursday. The weekly menu will feature at least four courses, inspired by fresh produce and proteins that are available at present. The dinners will be served communal-style on a designated farm table. The cost is $40 per person. Menus will be posted each Thursday afternoon on Terra’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Reservations are required. 7091 El Cajon Blvd., 619-293-7088.