Officially opening to the public this Thursday, July 12 at 3 p.m. the Little Italy Food Hall further activates the Piazza della Famiglia, aiming to draw more traffic to the neighborhood’s new 11,000-square-foot gathering space that runs through W. Date Street between India to Columbia. It is San Diego’s second food hall, following the 2016 debut of Liberty Public Market and preceding the launch of The Windmill Food Hall, anticipated to open later this summer in Carlsbad.
At nearly 5,000-square-feet, the Little Italy venue spans six food stations that range from brand-new concepts to familiar names from the current food scene. Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the food hall is a partnership between budding hospitality group Grain & Grit Collective and real estate developer H.G. Fenton Company, with support from local companies including CLTVT, Gensler, and San Diego Restaurant Supply.
Grain & Grit is also behind the hall’s most high-profile food tenant, Not Not Tacos by Sam the Cooking Guy. Created by Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien, the Emmy-winning TV host, everyman cook, and cookbook author, Not Not Tacos features a ‘genre-bending’ menu of tortillas bearing eclectic fillings ranging from curried egg salad to pastrami with cheese and coleslaw, chipotle apricot-glazed meatloaf, and Korean short ribs; there’s even a sweet vanilla-mango dessert taco. Zien will fill multiple roles at the hall, functioning as its community ambassador as well as hosting live culinary demos on its patio; the first in a series is scheduled for August.
Mein St. Asian Kitchen is a spinoff of Carmel Mountain’s Zen Modern Asian Bistro in Carmel Mountain. Its Pan-Asian menu includes Taiwanese slow-braised beef noodle soup, pork wonton noodle soup, and ramen as well as small plates that include potstickers, spring rolls, and chicken wings.
Seafood is the focus of Single Fin Kitchen from chef Antonio Quindere, a sushi chef who’s worked with Nobu Matsuhisa and attended culinary school in the gastronomic center of Lima, Peru. Single Fin Kitchen will offer sashimi, Peruvian sushi, oyster shooters as well as a selection of temaki, or Japanese hand rolls filled with spicy tuna, salmon skin, and more, and rice bowls, called donburi, topped with everything from achiote-marinated seared white fish to yellowtail.
Milan-style Pacific Beach pizzeria Ambrogio15 has installed a traditional Italian pizza oven in the food hall in order to duplicate its signature thin-crusted, 12-inch pizzas, also available with whole wheat or gluten-free crusts. Ambrogio15 will also serve salads and Italian cured meats and cheeses.
And two veterans from Liberty Public Market will included in the Little Italy lineup. Wicked Maine Lobster brings bread bowls full of clam chowder or lobster mac and cheese plus other New England specialities including full belly clams, fried shrimp, and crab rolls. Hailing originally from Victoria, B.C., Roast Meat & Sandwich Shop first landed in San Diego in 2016. In addition to its whole roast chicken, porchetta-stuffed sandwiches and popular meatballs, Roast will be rolling out build-your-own Superfood Salads at the Little Italy outpost.
There’s also The Little Italy Food Hall Bar, a central space that offers a drink list featuring takes on classic Italian cocktails including the bellini, spritz, and negroni, plus craft beer and a wine selection that includes Italian biodynamic wines. A weekday 3 to 6 p.m. happy hour offers $2 off beer, cocktails, and glasses of wine.
Communal seating is available inside the food hall as well as on a patio, where pop-up cooking demonstrations and other events will be held.