Spring 2015 will usher in Catania, the next project from Whisknladle Hospitality, which is scheduled for a March 1 debut. From the restaurant's 3,750-square-foot perch, on the top floor of the revitalized La Plaza complex, there are sweeping views of La Jolla Cove and the street scene of downtown La Jolla.
The setting fits with the restaurant's design — the open, airy layout, will have just as many, if not more, seats outdoors then inside the dining room – and theme, which is described as "Coastal Italian". While about a third of the menu is dedicated to seafood, owner Arturo Kassel says the general focus will be on lighter, fresher menu items.
A partially-open kitchen is powered by a wood-burning pizza oven named Beatrice and a wood-fueled rotisserie and grill. All food will be intended for family-style sharing, with a menu developed by the restaurant group's creative director and exec chef Ryan Johnston and Catania chef Vince Schofield, who joined Whisknladle Hospitality in 2013 after cooking throughout San Francisco, including at the city's acclaimed Boulevard.
Their menu begins with a dozen starters, featuring salads, crudo and a smoked duck liver mousse with persimmon, dates, red onion, almonds and parsley, and moves on to pizza and primi piatti that include squid ink capillini with dandelion greens, cranberry beans, uni bottarga, garlic, chile and breadcrumbs. Entrees will range from grilled Florentine steak to wood-grilled Branzino with a salsa verde crust, fennel, blood orange, radish and olives.
Beverages here will be almost exclusively Italian; a cocktail bar on one section of the patio will serve up drinks based on Italian spirits and cordials, the wine list will revolve around Italian varietals and the beer taps will pour craft brews from Italy, but since this is San Diego, Catania is still planning on incorporating the local beer scene. The restaurant will work with breweries on Italian-inspired beers; first up is a collaboration with New English Brewing.