San Diego’s newest speakeasy, which opens at the InterContinental Hotel on Thursday, March 12, pretty much turns the whole concept on its head. Speakeasies are typically small and enclosed, and focused squarely on cocktails, but Garibaldi features 120 seats, a bayfront patio bar, and a full dining experience.
Guests with reservations, who will check in by whispering their party’s name and a password into a diving helmet located somewhere in the hotel’s lobby, will be guided to a winding hallway that leads to Garibaldi’s outdoor bar and its indoor dining room, which were formerly used as private event space for Vistal, the InterContinental’s anchor restaurant.
Garibaldi’s design, from furniture to art, is inspired by the bright orange fish that’s frequently spotted along the California coast but the food is directly descended from its namesake, Italian founding father Giuseppe Garibaldi. Garibaldi spent nearly 30 years in Sardinia, prompting executive chef Amy DiBiase to do a deep dive into the regional cuisine of the Italian island.
Leading a new culinary team that includes Matt Richman (Cucina Enoteca) and Ashley Kato (Morning Glory), DiBiase created a Cal-Italian menu that includes Southern Italian cheeses and local seafood, from fried smelt to crab and fennel salad. The chef, who is known for her prowess with pasta, is introducing classic Sardinian and Sicilian pasta shapes including culurgiones, a traditional dumpling stuffed with potato and pecorino.
A bust of Garibaldi sits behind the bar, where food and beverage director Jeff Josenhans is aging negronis in custom-made clay amphoras. Josenhans, who founded the cocktail program at the U.S. Grant Hotel, created a drink list that mainly centers around Italian amaro, drawing from the hotel’s own herb garden for an Old Fashioned infused with myrtle and riffing on Dante’s signature Campari and orange juice-based Garibaldi by offering an optional egg white for extra fluff.
Garibaldi will be open from 5:30 p.m. to midnight Wednesday through Friday and 3 p.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday.