A set table at Crescent Heights. Photo by David Rolland.
Last year, in our Food Issue, we published what we called a "Food chain." We went to our good pal Neal Wasserman at Nine-Ten restaurant in La Jolla and asked him to tell us where in San Diego he really likes to eat. He told us about The Linkery in North Park, so we went to Jay Porter at The Linkery and asked him to tell us about one of his favorite haunts-and so on and so forth. The feature was so wildly popular that we decided to pick up where we left off: at Buon Appetito, which last year was recommended by Café Chloe's Alison McGrath:
Alison McGrath, co-owner of Cafe Chloe, says: "When I have a rare evening free to myself, I like to sit at the little bar at Buon Appetito. I bring a stack of magazines and huddle in the corner with a glass of wine and the burata. Then, if I can ignore the ringing of my cell phone, I will stay and have the orrechiette with broccoli rabe. It's a friendly, bustly neighborhood place and I feel comfortable, well fed and happy there." 1609 India St. in Little Italy. www.buonappetito.signonsandiego.com.
Flavio Piromallo, general manager of Buon Appetito, says: "Pappalecco gelateria is just off the beaten track in the Little Italy section of Downtown. All their gelato is homemade, and there is always a bountiful selection! My favorites are the Pappalecco and lemon flavors-both are light and refreshing. When I take a step out of work for a few minutes to decompress, I can usually be found right around the block having a buonissimo espresso macchiato. The guys at Pappalecco use Danesi espresso, which I find to be my favorite. The employees always go above and beyond, and the crowd sitting outside on the corner are always welcoming and friendly. This place is a real gem in San Diego!" 1602 State St. in Little Italy. www.pappalecco.com.
Francesco Bucci, owner of Pappalecco, says: "I am in my restaurant in Pisa [Italy] in this very moment. The terracotta bricks, the food, the wine, the voices, the music-a great Italian, uplifting ambiance. I love this taste. I love when someone (you don't know who, you don't know from where) is calling out to someone else (and you don't know who, you don't know where). Was he the chef? Was it the waiter? Was it none of them? Was it you? Were you dreaming? Who knows.
I will be leaving tomorrow-I will be in San Diego in a few hours. Every time I leave, before I leave, my memory grasps some of this flavor. When I am in San Diego and I want these memories of Italy to survive, I go to Panevino. What do I like about that place? It is that it brings me back to Italy. I live in Italy for an hour or two every time I go there. I love it. Tell Vincenzo I will be there soon." 722 Fifth Ave., Downtown. www.osteriapanevino.com.
Farm House Café
Alessandro Minutella, managing member of Osteria Panevino, says: "The Farm House Café is a truly French provincial cuisine restaurant. It is small, intimate, cozy and has a very good vibe. You can tell that it's frequented by the locals who keep on coming back. The owners, Olivier, who is the chef, and Rochelle, his wife-by day a criminal attorney, by night a great floor supervisor-are the nicest people you will meet. They show a great hospitality and are very hands-on. The food, of course, is excellent. Try the foie gras over pumpkin bread for an appetizer. Get a middle course with the escargot risotto. The duck is fantastic for an entrée, but, surprisingly, they have one of the best burgers in town, believe or not. Desserts are heavenly; try them all in several visits-you'll be addicted." 2121 Adams Ave. in University Heights. www.farmhousecafesd.com.
Olivier Bioteau, co-owner of Farm House Café, says: "My wife and I looked at the [Jaynes Gastropub] space before it was built. It was just a rundown little coffee shop, and for some reason, it didn't work for us. When we found out that it was leased, we were excited to see the result. We went there right from the beginning and met Jayne and John-lovely people. They talked to us about their venture of opening a restaurant, the good, the bad, the ugly all the things that need to be done and inspected and approved before opening. We loved the restaurant decor, the feel, the atmosphere and, of course, the food-the first and only gastropub in San Diego still to this day, I believe.
They have inspired us: When we looked at the Farm House space for lease, we also can do it. They helped us with exchanging information and recommending the right people to work with, etc. They are part of a great neighborhood. They are still in business after two years, I believe. They have built a strong following of local clientele and have a great reputation. They are part of the San Diego culinary scene." 4677 30th St. in Normal Heights. www.jaynesgastropub.com.
Jayne Battle, owner of Jayne's Gastropub, says: "I have one night off a week and leave nothing to chance. Chef David McIntyre's Crescent Heights (of Spago and Cut fame) masterfully handles the beautiful local ingredients we have here in San Diego. Case in point, the Chino Farms Beet and Burrata Salad is rustic perfection, and sommelier Joe Weaver's picks are always on the mark. They also have an incredible happy hour and, as far as I know, haven't fallen victim to advertising in the two-for-one coupon magazines, which, in my opinion are the Achilles heel to what could be a world-class food city." 655 West Broadway, Suite 150, Downtown. www.crescentheightssd.com