A talented Italian chef who has amassed a lot of goodwill as well as a good number of culinary awards during his time in San Diego is about to open his first independent restaurant in North Park, the neighborhood he now calls home. With Cori Pastificio, chef Accursio Lota says that he wants to recreate the feeling of his homeland of Sicily and its tradition of classic and cozy trattorias. He recently came to an agreement with his friend Joanne Sherif, owner of Cardamom Cafe and Bakery, to take over her Upas Street eatery; in the next week or so, Lota will close it temporarily for staff training and to add some Italian touches to the 1,800-square-foot space, with the intent to reopen by the end of November.
Over his 15-year culinary career, the chef cooked at the Four Seasons in Milan and Santa Barbara, worked at The Marine Room in La Jolla, and ran the kitchen at Liberty Station’s Solare Ristorante for seven successful years. During his tenure, Lota won the 2017 Barilla World Pasta Championship, numerous best chef titles, and was one of only four chefs in the United Status to be awarded “3 Gamberi” status by Gambero Rosso, the Italian equivalent of three Michelin stars. Alongside his wife Corinne Goria, with whom he ran the Limone fine-dining pop-up, Lota will operate Cori Pastificio under his newly-formed Lotaria Restaurant Group.
Cori means “heart” in the Sicilian dialect, and the heart of the restaurant, its kitchen, will be open so that Lota and his chefs can interact with diners. The preparation of fresh pasta will be the focal point, made with ancient grains and wheat berries imported from Italy. The menu will feature eight pasta dishes, including traditional lasagna made with Bolognese sauce and bechamel and raviolini based on cocoa pasta stuffed with oxtail and parsnip root. Cori’s handmade pastas and accompanying sauces will also be available for sale in a small retail area.
Other items include salads and starters, from Sicilian escargot roasted with tomato, mint, and garlic confit to a crudo of the day featuring local catch, as well as a selection of vegan dishes. Local and Italian beer will be offered along with a wine from small Italian producers.