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Arturo Kassel and Ryan Johnston of Whisknladle Hospitality will open their Italian Coastal restaurant, Catania, in early 2015. Inspired by a road trip through Italy, Catania is the newest concept for this restarateur duo, who are also behind Whisknladle and Prepkitchen Del Mar. Designed by Bluemotif Architecture, the space will occupy 3,750 square feet on the top floor of La Plaza, which once housed Jack's La Jolla. Catania, La Plaza, 7863 Girard Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037, no phone.
The East Village will be home to Water Grill, which will offer a wide range of seasonal seafood, whole fish, meats and a raw bar. The new restaurant also boasts two spaces for private dining, including a larger room upstairs for 50 guests overlooking J Street with vaulted wood ceilings. San Diego native Fabrice Poigin will oversee the San Diego eatery. Water Grill, 615 J St., San Diego, CA 92101, no phone.
Blue Bridge Hospitality (Liberty Public Market, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge, MooTime Creamery and more) has officially opened its doors to Stake Chophouse + Bar on Coronado Island. Executive chef Tim Kolanko helms the non-traditional chophouse, which features an indoor/outdoor rooftop setting and six firepits. Kolanko’s nouveau steakhouse menu offers twists on standard classics such as seared scallops with a scallop mousse and black butter beurre noir, or "stake" tartare with a quail egg and potato chips. Stake also serves a massive, 50-ounce tomahawk rib chop, an American Wagyu, a 35-day-aged New York Strip and the revered A5 Japanese Wagyu --- making Stake the only restaurant in San Diego to do so. Stake Chophouse + Bar, 1309 Orange Ave., Coronado, CA 92118, 619-522-0077.
San Diego’s newest dual-concept venue is a neighborhood deli and open-air rooftop cocktail bar. Mixologist Anthony Schmidt, one of the most recognized names in San Diego’s cocktail scene, has partnered with the hospitality collective CH Projects (Polite Provisions, Ironside Fish & Oyster, Craft & Commerce, Noble Experiment) to create Fairweather, a stylish tropical rooftop bar overlooking the Padres’ Petco Park baseball stadium, and Rare Form, a modern-day neighborhood Jewish delicatessen, led by executive chef and butcher Aldo Negrete. Rare Form features one of the nation’s only dedicated schnapps bars. Fairweather & Rare Form, 795 J St., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-255-6507.
Executive chef Steven Riemer, the culinary talent from The Lodge at Torrey Pines and The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, will oversee the new 8,200-square-foot, indoor/outdoor restaurant located at the iconic Catamaran Resort Hotel. Guests will enjoy Riemer’s California comfort cuisine, along with sweeping, unobstructed views of Mission Bay. It's scheduled to debut in early 2015. Catamaran Resort Hotel, 3999 Mission Blvd., San Diego, CA 92109, 858-488-1081, 800-422-8386.
The corner of Grape and Kettner is home to a new 10,000-square-foot eatery and bar that’s got everybody talking. Brainchild of Matthew Spencer and Tyler Charman, the forces behind the innovative Vin de Syrah, Analog and Firehouse, Kettner Exchange has two floors with high design, indoor and outdoor spaces for serious eating and drinking. Brian Redzikowski helms as executive chef, serving up progressive American cuisine, while Steven Tuttle (Craft & Commerce), heads up the extensive craft cocktail program. The rooftop deck holds five cabanas for bottle service and a DJ spinning lounge music on weekends. Dinner nightly. Kettner Exchange, 2001 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-255-2001.
David Spatafore, the local hospitality maestro behind Coronado’s Blue Bridge Hospitality (MooTime Creamery, Village Pizzeria, Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q, Coronado Coffee Company, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge) has announced the plans for Liberty Public Market, a public arena for local artisans, handcrafted food and specialty items, all under one roof. The 22,000-square-foot space will house more than 30 purveyors, allowing brick-and-mortar opportunities for small businesses. Acting as a one-stop specialty shop, as well as a daily farmers' market, Liberty Public Market is similar to Napa’s progressive Oxbow Public Market. The market will be set in sprawling Liberty Station, adjacent to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. It is expected to open in summer 2015. Liberty Public Market, Liberty Station, 2816 Historic Decatur Rd., San Diego, CA 92106, no phone.
Bottega Americano in San Diego is a European-style marketplace and chic restaurant Bottega Americano is a European-style marketplace and chic restaurant with five interactive food bars, creative cocktails, gourmet gifts and an epicurean to-go market. The menu honors the culinary traditions of Italy, but also American regional cooking. Think wood-fired pizza, a pasta bar, paninis, a raw bar, salads, salumi, gourmet cheeses and an espresso bar. Executive chef David Warner (formely of JRDN) has partnered with chef Giuseppe Ciuffa and GM Greg Van de Velde (formerly of Mister A's) to create this innovative concept. Designed by Thomas Schoos (Searsucker, Puesto), the 8000-square-foot marketplace is a dynamic and inviting setting where diners experience the sights, sounds and aromas of the kitchen. Snake Oil Cocktail Company has further elevated the scene with clever potables like handcrafted syrups for the coffee bar, coffee-based cocktails and modern versions of classic Italian libations. Bottega Americano resides in the LEED-certified Thomas Jefferson School of Law, across from downtown's new library, and is a glorious step forward for San Diego's culinary scene. Bottega Americano, 1195 Island Ave., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-255-7800.
One of Tijuana's most celebrated chefs, Javier Plascencia, has announced plans to open a new restaurant on Kettner Boulevard in Little Italy. Named for the 1940s Bracero program, which brought in many Mexican agricultural workers to the U.S., the bi-level eatery will allow San Diego diners to savor the famed chef's modern Mexican fare, without crossing the border. The lower level will be a casual, no-reservations eatery, while the upper floor will offer a more formal dining experience. Plascencia also has Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro in Bonita, in addition to a slew of eateries in Tijuana (Mision 19) and Guadalupe Valley (Finca Altozano). Bracero: Cocina Mexicana de Raiz will open in spring 2015. Bracero: Cocina Mexicana de Raiz, 1490 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101, no phone.

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News Bytes

Brunch Begins at Bottega Americano
The East Village hot spot Bottega Americano has begun serving brunch on the weekends. Lovely libations like spicy Bloody Marys and the Buona Domenica (with Junipero gin, grapefruit, Aperol, prosecco and mint) set the classy tone. The menu sings with artichoke Benedict with prosciutto; a butternut squash potato skillet with braised lamb sugo; or Roman chilaquiles on pizza crust with tomato sauce, basil ricotta salata, crema and two fried eggs. An espresso bar, bakery and desserts elevate the experience. Bottega Americano

Chef Shuffle

After 15 successful years in Pacifica Del Mar’s kitchen, executive chef Chris Idso is departing with plans to relocate in Hawaii. A new culinary talent has landed at Pacifica Del Mar with executive chef Chris Powell joining the team. Powell is the former executive chef at Whisknladle and brings 19 years of culinary experience to the Del Mar Plaza seafood restaurant. Pacifica Del Mar, Del Mar Plaza, 1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014, 858-792-0476.


Take your taste buds on a walk down memory lane! Check out our exclusive closed restaurant database for San Diego to virtually visit your favorite dining spots from the past. Mr. Tiki Mai Tai Lounge, R.I.P.

San Diego's branch of Pizzeria Mozza closed on November 30, 2014. The locations in Los Angeles and Newport Beach remain open. Pizzeria Mozza, 789 W. Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-376-4353.

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Check out the 2014 edition of GAYOT's Annual Restaurant Issue, which features the Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S., Rising Chefs and more.

THE BEST IN HOTEL DININGWhile many eateries in hotels exist primarily as a convenience, these Top 10 Hotel Restaurants in the US are dining destinations in their own right.