Chef/partner Mario Maruca is aiming to put “California culture on a plate, from San Louis Obispo to Cabo” with Cafe Califas, his new restaurant coming to the heart of Barrio Logan later this spring. Designed to change with the seasons and showcase regional ingredients, his small plates menu will be set at reasonable prices, Maruca says, so that diners can feel comfortable ordering multiple dishes.
Opening by late April/early May, the Logan Avenue restaurant will have a small kitchen and some tables indoors, but most of the dining, as well as the cooking, will be done on outside on the 4,500-square-foot property. The front patio will serve as the main seating area and Maruca is building a backyard kitchen suite that will include a wood fired oven, smoker, and grills — inspired by restaurants like Deckman’s En El Mogor in the Valle de Guadalupe and his own outdoor set-up at home.
The chef, who co-founded The Friendly in North Park, operated local catering company and food truck Caliano by Spinelli for many years and specialized in wood fired pizza. Pizza, both traditional and unconventional, will feature on the menu, but Maruca will also be using his experience in wood fire management to roast and smoke whole proteins and grill local vegetables. Telling Eater that his mission is to offer “a lot of good food, cooked simply, over wood fire”, Maruca says he wants to make Cafe Califas a community-oriented space and plans to host guest chefs for monthly wood fired paella collaborations.
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