Newly making their home in San Diego are Lucia Celi and Francesco Guardini, who originally left Italy bound for San Francisco before deciding that San Diego was a friendlier place to launch Mattarello Cooking Lab, their first U.S. eatery. Celi, Mattarello’s head chef and baker, was a lawyer prior to joining the culinary industry; her family hails from Southern Italy, where her grandfather was a baker in Capri. The couple have two successful eateries in Milan, and will be recreating many of their tried and true recipes for the new restaurant, which is a cozy, 25-seat shop on Sixth Avenue.
Aiming to open by the end of October, Mattarello Cooking Lab will serve traditional Italian cooking, but in the way of Slow Food, the menu will draw from local ingredients including California flour and olive oil and regional produce. Fresh pasta is one of Celi’s specialties, and Mattarello will retail its pasta to home cooks as well as feature it in dishes ranging from maccheroni al pesto to lasagnette with bolognese ragu and ravioli stuffed with bacon, potato, and nutmeg and served with butter and sage. Besides appetizers and salads, the all-day eatery will also bake up square slices of crisp-crusted pizza as well as Genoa-style focaccia that will serve as the base of build-your-own sandwiches.
Sweets will include various pastries, cannoli, tiramisu, a Neapolitan tart, and a Sorrento lemon sorbet. Celi and Guardini tell Eater that they’d like to use the Gaslamp location as a central kitchen to feed other outposts that will combine grab-and-go service with sit-down dining. They also plan to host cooking classes in the future.