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Cucina Urbana

505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92101-1634
+1 619-239-2222
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Ranked #24 of 3,981 restaurants in San Diego
Certificate of Excellence 2013
Price range: $10 - $30
Cuisines: Italian
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Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene, Large groups, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Late Night
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: 5th Avenue
Description: CUCINA urbana is a California inspired Italian Kitchen and Wine Shop. Owner Tracy Borkum's flair for combining great ambience, award-winning cuisine and unparalleled service are once again starring components in this Urban Kitchen Group creation. The restaurant is being heralded as the leader in the new regime of affordable dining in San Diego and has been the subject of praise from numerous local and national publications. The restaurant's interior evokes a modern kitchen combined with the history and comfort of an old rustic country farmhouse. A touch of home, splash of bohemia and many objects new and old attract the eye. A focus on raw, sustainable material and reclaimed local material is found throughout. Discarded fence boards recovered from San Diego county wrap columns, walls, service stations and the back bar. Chef Joe Magnanelli's menu offers affordable selections of vasi + antipasti + boards + insalate + pizza + pasta + piatti + dolce. His whimsical expression of Italian classics coupled with the use of the freshest local produce, and organic and sustainable products comprise a diverse menu with all items at or below $20. Whether dining traditionally or 'family style', guests have become hooked on favorites such as stuffed fried squash blossoms, ricotta gnudi, braised black cod and veal piccata. Wines of 'The Americas,' including California, Washington, Oregon, Argentina, Chile and Italy are among the major wine-producing regions offered in CUCINA urbana's retail priced Wine Shop. Guests are invited to visit the restaurant's retail area to select a bottle for lunch or dinner (a corkage fee of $8 applies) or purchase wine to go. Additionally, CU plays host to a monthly 'Winemakers Series,' where guests are invited to enjoy hors d'oeuvres, taste a variety of wines and mingle with a winemaker in a casual, informal setting. - Most menu items $20 and under - strong commitment to seasonality + sustainability - organic + local product used whenever possible - wines from the Americas and Italy - sold at retail pricing - special discounts for cases of wine to go! - Local artisan beers + italian favorites - housemade infused liquors + specialty cocktails
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367 reviews from our community

87% Recommend
    237
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Rating summary
    Food
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    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
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  • Any
English first
Westchester County, NY
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
49 helpful votes 49 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2014 NEW

This hip-rustic restaurant combines the ambiance of old world charm with a hipster aesthetic -- farmwood-plank paneled walls, chalkboard illustrations, and Edison-electric light bulbs in eclectic shades that at once remind one of birdcages or flowering copper-wire tulips compliment a dining room of solid wood tables, comfy leather chairs, and water carafes that were once milk bottles. Try the home... More

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Seattle
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
32 restaurant reviews
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2014

We ate here two nights in a row in late March 2014. We had been here a couple of years earlier and could not wait to go back. The food was consistently good. The baked whole fish, the stuffed squash blossoms, the polenta board...I could go on and on. Great food! The wine list is a plus as well, and... More

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midlands uk
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2014

Booked a table on line here on recommendation from a friend. Walked from our hotel in Little Italy to Bankers Hill and enjoyed the surrounding neighbourhood. This restaurant is in a nice area. Very nice atmosphere, bustling and busy but not too overpowering. A social vibe rather than quiet romance, very attractive decor. Lots of wood and pretty lighting and... More

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Bermuda
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2014

A pleasant upscale pub with nice menu that was totally offset by a disinterested, poorly trained server that appeared much more interested in talking to friends at a nearby table than providing any level of acceptable service.

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Kelowna, Canada
Top Contributor
150 reviews 150 reviews
63 restaurant reviews
122 helpful votes 122 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2014

This was my second visit here and the food did not disappoint. The sea bass arrived whole on the plate with sharp little teeth and we shared our tagliatelle family-style; it was excellent. Loved our Gorgonzola and pear appie spread, but my husband wasn't pleased with the cannoli dessert (not sure if they have a good pastry chef or not).... More

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Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2014

This was the most incredible lunch meal ever. My wife and I look for "Wows!" That's when you taste something that isn't just an excellent meal, but a "Wow, this is uniquely delicious!" I had the roasted jidori chicken with ricotta gnudi, pancetta, fava bean and sherry jus. This would've been a dinner Wow and it was a $20 lunch!... More

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Falls Church, VA
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
74 restaurant reviews
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2014

Cucina Urbana is the one restaurant I look forward to going back to each and every time I am in San Diego. The tempura battered, squash blossoms with ricotta cheese are tasty, melt in your mouth treats. The pasta dishes are plentiful, prepared on site and delicious. Deserts are always special. Cucina Urbana's wine list is affordable with plenty of... More

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South Lake Tahoe, California
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2014

On a mini-vacation in San Diego last week, and being Italian, always looking for 'real' Italian food, we found this gem. Besides the great food, it has an upscale feel, yet a very relaxed atmosphere. Very friendly service, and also kid-friendly. My grandsons were able to make their own pizzas, which they loved. Also loved that they got free refills... More

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San Diego, California
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2014

Had a yummy lunch. The restaurant has a great vibe. So much thought has gone into every detail of the decor. We started by sharing a polenta board - which was to die for delicious. Rich thigh meat ragu with olives over a rich buttery polenta. Followed by a light brussels sprout and apple salad with farro. I was headed... More

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Weston, Florida
Top Contributor
81 reviews 81 reviews
46 restaurant reviews
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2014

We tripped and stumbled over a few restaurants on a Sunday night and lucked into this one. First thing was that on Sundays they sell wine at cost so our bottle of wine was as cheap as it would have been for a glass in other places. Then the food was absolutely awesome. From the olive tampenade in a small... More

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