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“An amazing dining experience”
Review of CUCINA urbana

CUCINA urbana
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Ranked #14 of 4,770 Restaurants in San Diego
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $30
Cuisines: Italian, Wine Bar
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Large groups, Special occasions, Bar scene
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Reservations
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. - 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
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“An amazing dining experience”
Reviewed May 23, 2013

My wife and I dined here on May 14, 2013. I must say this was one of the most amazing restaurants I have ever been to. Our server was great, he made recommendations for dinner and also from the excellent wines that you can purchase by the bottle. The food( appetizers, main course and the desserts) were really tasty. For our appetizers we chose the stuffed fried squash blossomso and the formaggi + salumi, wonderful cheeses and cold cuts. For our main course I chose the grilled ‘berkshire’ pork chop | mascarpone whipped potato+ confit baby carrot + grilled calcot onion.My wife had the brick oven roasted branzino | fennel + kafir lime
+ market vegetable + crushed potato + lemoncello beurre blanc. We had a wonderful evening and opted for a 5:30 sitting, as everything else from 6PM until 9PM was booked. The place fills up quickly. We will surely dine there again when our travels take us to San Diego.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank SunnyArizona
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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758 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Turkish first
  • Any
English first
Boston, Massachusetts
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Delicious Delightful”
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
Thank Solonotes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
105 reviews
74 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Great dining experience, but room for improvement”
Reviewed May 20, 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
Thank Gravygourmand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level 5 Contributor
77 reviews
47 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Try everything!”
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
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank SamSafD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Castle, New Hampshire
Level 6 Contributor
130 reviews
120 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Rustic Comfortable Setting”
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
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank JohnHC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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