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“A knock out meal and a hip place” 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 4,048 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
Philadelphia
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“A knock out meal and a hip place”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2013

Quite possibly the best meals I've had. Started with lamb neck (which I was not expecting to like and found myself devouring) and moved on to a shrimp over angel hair pasta. Lots of Italian restaurants have this kind of fare, but none taste so explosively good. My wife ordered Lasagna (how boring could you get?) and then couldn't finish it because it was so delicious and so *dense* with different meats and sauce. I got to finish it; astounding! Should also mention their mixed drinks menu, including a character called a 'Rosebud' which is made with watermelon infused white sambuca, Intense.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 4 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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399 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
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English first
NE US
Top Contributor
389 reviews 389 reviews
274 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 62 cities Reviews in 62 cities
142 helpful votes 142 helpful votes
“A happening spot with well-priced food and wine selections”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2013

My wife and I enjoyed a dinner here recently. We had heard great things about this place and it lived up to expectations. It was great to buy a bottle of wine from a good selection at the store and pay only an $8 corkage fee. We had a bottle that we paid about $70 for in a liquor store for $80! They also had plenty of less and more expensive options. I had a nice meat pizza and my wife had lasagne. We enjoyed them both. The tomato sauce was a bit sweeter than we like, but it often is in restaurants. The place is loud and packed so be sure to make a reservation. It’s a bit far from downtown so getting a cab back to our hotel was difficult but well worth the effort. We will eat here again next time we visit San Diego.

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“The best meal I've ever had!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2013

What a restaurant; from the food to the decor everything flows perfectly. The atmosphere compliments the food perfectly in a urban, yet traditional setting with reclaimed wood paneling, candles, pub style tables, and a brick oven with a glow that gives off the feel and appearance of a fireplace for even more of a spectacular setting. The food is in a class of itself. I'm a serious foodie and I could eat the polenta with ragu everyday for the rest of my life and be incredibly happy. For dinner the short rib pappardelle can only be described as beef bourguignon with pasta and it's as hearty as it gets. The meat is beyond succulent in a fall of the bone kind of way. The agnolotti is creamy and delectable. Portions are not Cheesecake Factory style but when the food is this good and this rich, all you need is a small portion to make you feel incredibly satisfied. For dessert, get the tiramisu or chocolate tart. Expensive, but well worth the money!

  • Visited July 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
9 helpful votes 9 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

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