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“Delicious Delightful” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Cucina Urbana

Cucina Urbana
505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92101-1634
+1 619-239-2222
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Ranked #39 of 4,044 restaurants in San Diego
Price range: $10 - $30
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
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
Boston, Massachusetts
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Delicious Delightful”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2013

The volume is a tad loud, but the sounds are of people enjoying themselves. Great service, great staff, wonderful variety, delicious food

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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386 reviews from our community

87% Recommend
    247
    91
    35
    10
    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
38 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Great dining experience, but room for improvement”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 21, 2013 via mobile

There is not a lot to criticize at this upscale Italian eatery--it has deservedly high ratings from other Trip Advisors, but the owners should not rest on their laurels. The facility is everything you would expect of a very hip San Diego restaurant. Entering at street level, one overlooks the entire restaurant and bar area below, and it visually exciting. Wine list is very good, although some additional wines by the glass would be helpful. Cocktails were expertly made with hand-stuffed blue cheese olives in our martinis. A fried goat-cheese stuffed squash blossom appetizer was delightful, and a grilled octopus was accompanied with a small flavorful salad. Appetizer portions were quite small, so don't expect to be satisfied if you're sharing. Same with entrees; however, the quality was generally excellent. Bucatini all'Amatriciana is an iconic pasta dish that is hard to find outside of Italy in its authentic form; primary reason being that it calls for cured pork jowls that are nearly impossible to find in the States. Cucina Urbana prepared an acceptable rendition of this dish, but the sauce was quite acidic. Chef needs to smooth out the flavors. A veal piccata was nicely flavored, but needed some additional pounding to tenderize. A grilled Pacific cod was especially fresh, but the portion size left me wanting more. Service was a little stretched, especially as the evening wore on. We arrived early and initially received highly attentive service, but later on it deteriorated. Readers should not be deterred by the few negatives in this review. It is an enjoyable dining experience and one that I would return to.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
45 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Try everything!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2013 via mobile

We definitely over ordered here, but glad we tried everything. The focaccia bread was great to start with. We had the blossoms and risotto as an appetizer, which left us little room for our lasagna and parpadelle (our favorite). Wait staff was excellent. I definitely suggest making a reservation. Might be hard to get a table otherwise.

  • Visited May 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Castle, New Hampshire
Top Contributor
87 reviews 87 reviews
79 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Rustic Comfortable Setting”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013

You sit down to a table that has been covered in construction paper and your first thought is this place might be a little low brow. In truth in is nothing but high brow, the food, the drinks, picking out the wine all really well done. We had a couple of the spreads to start, I would highly recommend the chicken pate. The squash blossoms and grilled octopus where quite good as well, the real star of the show was the whole fish Branzino with the fish sauce was outstanding. I have pictured it below. It was a lovely evening and I would go back here in a heartbeat.

  • Visited May 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leesburg, Virginia
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
32 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
“Amazing Food! A+ Service!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 7, 2013

This is one of my all time favorite restaurants in San Diego. The food is incredible! For an app, we got the barrata and garlic vasi....seriously amazing. We all loved it. For a salad, we ordered the farmers chop, which is huge and plennnnty of food for 4 people. We didn't even finish it. It was one of the best salads I have ever had, so full of flavor. For dinner, everyone ordered different things to share. My favorite thing was the garganelli, SO tasty and delicious. The lasagna was also amazing. I seriously cannot say enough good things about the food here, it is worth every single calorie. The service is great - our server was very knowledgeable and answered our questions without being overbearing or pushy. The ambiance is great, with low lighting and trendy yet urban decor. If you get a chance, GO TO THIS RESTAURANT!!

  • Visited April 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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