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“Best pâté we have had in years” 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 4,043 restaurants in San Diego
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
Denver, Colorado
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Best pâté we have had in years”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2013

My husband and I decided to go because of the reviews. They are not wrong. I had zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese and my husband had the pâté. We are from Europe so use to good pâté. The was the best we have had since living in the US over 13 years. I had the short rib pasta supper good I didn't finish it as I had eaten the pâté. My husband has the pizza which was great but a little sweet. Would go back next time we are in town.

  • Visited June 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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385 reviews from our community

87% Recommend
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Switzerland
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“All-round excellent food and great atmosphere”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2013

I had reserved a table for 9 family members, mainly elderly aunts and uncles. I thought the noise may have been a problem, but our table was situated in a corner next to the wine racks and we could hear and speak quite civily! Our waiter was excellent, knew his stuff and gave us the time we needed to choose our dishes. We had the stuffed squash blossoms and the Gorgonzola walnut mousse with poached pear. Couldn't get enough of these, so delicious. A variety of main dishes were ordered and all were deemed excellent. I had the meatball and mozarella pizza which was baked to perfection. It was one of the best pizzas I have had in a while. The right amount of everything on it, not soggy at all and super tasty. My wife had the oven roasted branzino which she thoroughly enjoyed. We shared a couple of desserts (chocolate budino, gelato sampler) and had some espressos. And a bottle of wine. All for around $320.

The atmospheric combination of rustic-meets-urban helped make this a memorable family meal. And the San Diegans who had never been here before said they would be back...but they should make sure they book in advance!

  • Visited June 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Excellent food, good service, great wine”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 16, 2013

Ate here with family for dinner, all five of us had great food. My wife's pizza was outstanding (pepperoni, sausage), my son's burger was excellent (lean beef topped with short rib), and my pork chop was perfectly cooked and well seasoned. Even the kids meals were very good. Wine was excellent too, great value (try the banshee pinot noir and the barrel 27 syrah). Service was very good too and overall great value.

  • Visited June 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 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.
Leonardtown, Maryland, United States
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Dinner with an old friend”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 14, 2013

My BFF from high school took me to dinner here and it was absolutely fabulous. We started with the polentafor that day, creamy polenta with marscapone and a delicous sweet ragu made of pork. I had a beet salad that was fresh using local farm to table ingredients. I had a wonderful glass of Pinot Noir. We sat at the bar because the tables were all booked for the night-a weekday and we arrived when it opened at 5! The bartender was attentive and we were served promptly and efficiently. It was a little noisy, but we had no trouble talking and enjoying our meal. When I come back to San Diego I plan to eat here again.

  • Visited May 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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.
Baltimore, Maryland
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Three for three”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2013

Can't believe Cucina Urbana makes it three straight nights of incredible dining in San Diego. I had no idea SD was such a great food town. Great and very reasonably priced wine list. Service if 5-star in a place without any 5-star stuffiness. Food was all delicious. Burratta and roasted garlic in a mason jar was terrific app. Husband enjoyed veal piccata entree, and I had a delicious risotto with asparagus, mushrooms, pecorino, and a few leaves of arugula. Panna cotta again, which was different but equally as good as the night before at the Farm House Cafe.

Visited June 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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