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Hillcrest’s New Genre-Bending Restaurant Has Food on Carts and Chefs As Servers

Maestoso offers Italian traditions and a modern format

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Maestoso, a new restaurant aiming to deliver a different style of dining, has arrived at The Hub Hillcrest Market. Roman chef-owner Marco Maestoso landed in San Diego last year after stints in San Francisco and Los Angeles; his background includes a degree from Italy’s famous Gambero Rosso culinary school, an acclaimed pop-up dinner series in New York City, training in Michelin-star kitchens and his own fine dining restaurant, Casa Maestoso, in Rome.

Co-founded with partner Dalila Ercolani, Maestoso is also backed by pro race car driver Richard Antinucci and childhood friends Christopher Antinucci and Giulia Colmignoli, who run the Napizza restaurant group. Maestoso takes over the former Napizza space in the University Avenue complex, and now features a central open kitchen bordered by a long dining counter where its chefs can interact with diners.

The restaurant will also operate with a unique service model it’s calling “chef-to-table”. Its fleet of chefs will alternate between the front of the house and kitchen — taking orders, chatting with customers and delivering dishes — with bussers helping with other tasks.

Its menu will reflect both Maestoso’s Italian heritage as well as his fine dining experience, which includes exploration into molecular cuisine. There are build-your-own pasta dishes, based on fresh pastas made on site, and a variety of pinsa, a Roman style of street food that features an airy flatbread made from long-fermented rice and wheat flour dough. It will be a canvas for toppings ranging from sous-vide calamari to wild boar salami and lemon-smoked cod carpaccio.

A showcase for its chefs will be a nightly-rotating array of off-menu dishes inspired by everything from the local farmer’s market to modern cooking techniques and global cuisines. Called passaggi, from the Italian “to pass by”, they will range in price from $1 to $18 and be served via roving tableside carts which are inspired by both dim sum culture and San Francisco’s State Bird Provisions. The restaurant will offer Italian and California wines, plus local craft beers, and is also seeking a full liquor license.

Open daily from 5 to 10 p.m., Maestoso will have limited seatings starting this Friday with a full public opening on Monday, March 5 and a grand opening scheduled for March 15.

Maestoso Menu by EaterSD on Scribd


1040 University Avenue, , CA 92103 (619) 642-0777 Visit Website