Barrio Logan has new neighbors, who moved into the area 11 months ago and have been painstakingly renovating a house on Logan Avenue; they’re finally ready to invite you over for dinner. Ciccia Osteria is run by Francesca Penoncelli and Mario Cassineri, a chef couple who began their culinary training in Italy at age 14 and traveled the globe together, from Lebanon to Kansas City, as corporate chefs for the BICE Restaurant Group before settling in San Diego to open a BiCE in the Gaslamp, which they ran until its shutter in 2017.
Though Cassineri is the more well-known of the two, Penoncelli has been an equal partner in several of his high-profile consulting projects, including Madison on Park and the upcoming Blade 1936 in Oceanside.
For the first restaurant that’s all their own, they chose to open an osteria as an antithesis to their fine dining backgrounds. Typically cozy and casual, an Italian osteria features an ever-changing, short menu of dishes based on what’s fresh and in season, and always at accessible prices. At Ciccia Osteria, ordering is done at a counter, with Cassineri playing gracious host and delivering food and carafes of wine to guests.
Its walls are decorated with cherished family photos and recipes; the menu features a peperonata from Penoncelli grandmother and Cassineri’s mother’s mafalde, a ragu of duck, rabbit, and quail. The chefs’ Piedmontese and Milanese heritage is also represented, from raviolini plin with pea sprouts, ricotta, lemon, zucchini, scallop to veal chop Milanese topped with an arugula salad. All the pasta is made fresh in room off the upstairs dining area and will eventually be available for retail. Penoncelli also offers a robust variety of vegan options, including salads and pasta; she says her entire menu will change frequently, and plans to feature daily specials.
Currently open Thursday though Monday for dinner, with lunch service on Saturday and Sunday, the restaurant may extend its hours in the future. Later this summer, the chefs will kickstart the wood-burning oven on the front patio, which will cook up small pizzas and other wood-fired dishes.