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“Don't judge a book by it's cover/don't judge a restaurant from the street!”
Review of CUCINA urbana

CUCINA urbana
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Ranked #15 of 4,764 Restaurants in San Diego
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $30
Cuisines: Italian, Wine Bar
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Special occasions, Bar scene, Local cuisine
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Late Night, 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
Eugene, Oregon
Level Contributor
71 reviews
52 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Don't judge a book by it's cover/don't judge a restaurant from the street!”
Reviewed November 11, 2013

We found Cucina Urbana listed as the #3 restaurant of about 3400 in San Diego, Calif. and called for a reservation a few days in advance. It was located within walking distance of our hotel but when we drove past it, it didn't "look like much" from the outside. It is on the street level of a newer, non-descript high-rise and I was tempted to cancel our reservation after doing a "drive-by." Thank goodness we decided to give it a try,..what a TREAT! The walk-down atmosphere was eclectic, cozy, and VERY upscale, yet casual. Our appetizer (chicken liver pate), breads, and entrees (mussels for me, lasagna for my husband) were absolutely FABULOUS and reasonably priced. They had an extensive wine list, again, very reasonable. The wait-staff was outstanding also. We will DEFINITELY return to Cucina Urbana and will/would recommend it to anyone going to downtown San Diego. It is NOT to be missed!!!!

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Claire465
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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750 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
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    Atmosphere
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
calgary
Level Contributor
24 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Good food but big rush”
Reviewed November 9, 2013

We love the food here. But we ordered a tapenade to be followed by a salad and blossoms and then our mains. To our surprise the tapenade came out in about one minute followed by the other apps a minute later. We hadn't even been served our wine yet. The server was good and actually cancelled our mains so we wouldn't get them minutes later. We love the vibe and the food but the service needs work.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank canadiantravelnuts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stateline, Nevada
Level Contributor
436 reviews
284 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 149 helpful votes
“Great time”
Reviewed November 7, 2013

Very eclectic design. Modern but surprisingly friendly and warm IE not sterile and cold.

We had lunch late towards the end of the lunch time slot and the restaurant was busy for a Tuesday.

The staff was very attentive and friendly and our server, Chelsea, was wonderful.

We tried the salumi and cheese plate. One thing I like and have not seen anywhere else is you get to pick what cheeses and meats you want. They come with olives, honey and a couple of other complimentary sauces. Meat and cheese plates are so overpriced but good.

We shared a pizza which had a great crust and cooked properly with great flavors.

When we are back in town we will definitely stop here for dinner.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank sunnski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sammamish, Washington
Level Contributor
21 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Excellent food & service, but noisy”
Reviewed November 4, 2013

The food was delicious and the service was perfect, but I couldn't hear my dining companion sitting less than 2 feet away. This is a perfect date restaurant because the noise level forces you to nuzzle into your partner just to be heard. It's not the music, it's the conversations that bounce off of all the hard surfaces. Make reservations! The place was jumping early on a Monday evening. Reasonable prices and interesting (in a good way) menu.

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Jack K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
53 reviews
27 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Great Food, Hip Atmosphere”
Reviewed November 4, 2013

My wife and I were recently on a trip to San Diego and we had our best meal here. It was a Monday night and the place was packed. We had a tuna special appetizer that was outstanding. The service was great and they had a nice policy with their wine where they only charged an eight dollar corking fee to all their wines and you could actually buy the wine you were served and take it home which we did.

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank jimf2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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