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Restaurant Reviews

Carnivorous cravings

Posted: October 7th, 2016 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. It was a veritable meat parade lead by dapperly outfitted “gauchos” wielding sword-size skewers loaded with steak, lamb, sausages and you name it. Like some medieval feast, the succulent proteins were continuously sliced onto our plates tableside until flipping over cue cards to their red sides, which signaled we needed a […]

Urban idolatry

Posted: October 7th, 2016 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

A slice of Tiki culture hidden in Little Italy

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

The recent multi-million dollar renovation of Craft & Commerce has spawned a cozy backroom lounge capturing a bygone era that is once again trending in pop culture.

Separated by a secret door from Craft’s new cabin-style design is False Idol, where guests are transported to a time when mai tais, pina coladas and other fruity rum drinks were in vogue.

Italian dining, Las Vegas style  

Posted: September 2nd, 2016 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

As the name implies, you can bet Flour & Barley is loaded with gluten. And beer.

The sleekly designed restaurant, located in The Headquarters at Seaport, replaced Pizzeria Mozza earlier this year with a complete makeover commissioned by Block 16 Hospitality. The Las Vegas enterprise operates several high profile eating and drinking venues in Sin City, including Flour & Barley’s flagship kitchen at The LINQ Promenade.

With a slate of tempting brick-oven pizzas in place, the dough is made with high-gluten All Trumps flour favored by East Coast pizzerias. And the “grandma-style” meatballs derive their suppleness from pieces of bread in the meat mix — exactly how my grandmother made them religiously for Sunday dinners.

Beyond pad Thai

Posted: August 5th, 2016 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Predictability is what I’ve come to expect from San Diego’s myriad Thai restaurants, mainly because I succumb repeatedly to the pedestrian standbys: Tom yum soup, the colored curries, drunken noodles, and the most heart-stealing of them all — pad Thai noodles stir-fried in sweet tamarind sauce. At Lotus Thai, however, I happily left my comfort zone.

Lotus currently ranks as Downtown’s oldest Thai restaurant in the wake of closures by Rama and Royal Thai Cuisine over the past several years. It opened 12 years ago as a statelier offshoot to its original Hillcrest location, which has remained in business since 1999.

Homeruns on Fifth Avenue

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

A sentence on 1919’s website compares the recently launched establishment to “what neighborhood sports bars used to be,” referring to the year of the infamous Chicago White Sox scandal, when players were accused of taking money in exchange for deliberately losing the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

Bayside pork

Posted: June 3rd, 2016 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. After nearly two years in the making, Carnitas Snack Shack has brought its passion for swine to the Downtown waterfront in a sleek, walk-up pavilion that is part of the newly revitalized North Embarcadero project. Since captivating consumers for the past five years from their original North Park location with dishes […]

Lunch with a side of history

Posted: May 6th, 2016 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | 1 Comment

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

More than a century ago it was the building that triggered a commerce shift from Old Town to Downtown, which back then was called “new town.” With ornate 16-foot ceilings and brick arches, the Commercial Bank of San Diego opened on Fifth Avenue in what is now Florent Restaurant & Lounge, named appropriately after the structure’s Florentine-style façade.

Built in 1874, two additional floors were added to accommodate the city library. Yet by the turn of the century, the city purchased the building and moved in the mayor and council chambers, along with the police department. For 35 years, it operated as City Hall.

For the love of bread

Posted: April 1st, 2016 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

From front to back, a succession of deli cases stocked with dazzling desserts and savories forms the spine of Pan Bon, a colossal market and restaurant launched last year by longtime baker Giancarlo Anselmi of Verona, Italy. Step only two feet inside for a glimpse and your chances of exiting without a purchase are practically zero.

Rebirth on the harbor

Posted: March 4th, 2016 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. Aside from its priceless perch on San Diego Bay, everything at the 27-year-old Top of the Market is fresher than a fish out of water. A roof fire in May closed down the iconic seafood restaurant as well as its casual ground-floor sibling, The Fish Market, which sustained less damage and […]

Persian perfection

Posted: February 5th, 2016 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. It wasn’t the first time my appetite was cued from watching CNN’s “Parts Unknown,” a culinary travel series hosted by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. The show has sent me running in the past to the nearest kitchens serving Thai dumplings, Brazilian meat skewers, and more recently, to some of the most […]