If you’ve been to Cucina Enoteca at the Irvine Spectrum, you’ll probably know that the group’s original restaurant is the eclectic San Diego eatery Cucina Urbana located in the Banker’s Hill neighborhood. I love Enoteca, so on one particular visit to San Diego, I paid a visit to Urbana.
The restaurant is beautiful — as I had expected — and a little smaller and cozier than the sprawling OC location. I always feel like there is so much to discover everywhere I look.
We started with some cocktails — Tequila “Mule” ($11) with jalapeno infused tequila, lime juice and ginger beer was my choice being the tequila-lover that I am. My friend happily sipped on the delightful Blueberry Caipirinha ($11) with novo fogo cachaca, lime juice and sugar.
Our server suggested the Tuna Conserva + Ceci Bean + Taggiasca Olive + Farm Egg ($8.50) mason jar for us to start. Ordinarily, I would never have ordered this, but our server didn’t steer us in the wrong direction. It was delicious! I loved the salty tart flavor combo, leaving my mouth puckering for more.
I’ve always loved antipasti boards and the one here comprised of a sampler of three bites: Osso Bucco Bone Marrow, Arancini with finocchio and arrabiata with a San Marzano marinara sauce, Bresaola, Taleggio cheese on crostini.
The Bresaola, Taleggio cheese crostini requires no words. Salty, sweet, absolutely delicious bite after bite.
Arancini with finocchio and arrabiata in a San Marzano marinara sauce is light and cheesy. The marinara is perfectly executed and the ideal marriage of flavors.
Osso Bucco Bone Marrow is rich, decadent and lately, has taken over the widely missed foie gras.
Grilled Mediterranean Octopus ($13.50) brings together tomato sugo, calabrian chili, cannellini bean, bottarga and lemon preserve. The components in this dish comes together well with textural contrast as well as flavor bursts in my mouth.
I had eyed the Roast Suckling Pig ($13.50) because I wanted to see how it differed to the one I’m familiar with from my childhood. The meat was tender with a crispy skin coating just like the one I know but this was also topped with poached hen egg, frisee, pork crackling and a sherry mustard sugo. Crispy, gooey, absolutely decadent!
Surprisingly, I really enjoyed dessert as well! Orange Pistachio Cake ($8) was a moist polenta cake topped with tangerine and candied fennel and a wildflower honey crema. So fragrant and so delicious.
Pear + gingerbread spiced tiramisu ($8.50) was also different from the ones I’m used to. Mascarpone mousse, amaretto and almond praline makes this not only a unique tiramisu, but also, a very refined one.
Before you go, make a reservation because the place gets packed! You don’t want to arrive and then be disappointed they don’t have a table for you.
505 Laurel Street
San Diego, CA 92101