A renovated house-turned-restaurant on Logan Avenue will start welcoming diners this weekend. Cafe Califas owner and chef Mario Maruca did much of the restoration work himself, transforming the 4,500-square-foot property into a space intended to be a casual, friendly hangout for the Barrio Logan community.
With most of its seating al fresco on a wide front patio and spacious back deck, the 90-seat restaurant’s kitchen is also mostly outdoors. Maruca, who previously operated local Italian food truck Caliano by Spinelli, will be utilizing an enviable collection of equipment that includes a wood-fired pizza oven, smoker, Santa Maria grill, and fire pit that will be used to cook up huge pans of paella; the chef will be offering a Moroccan-style vegan/vegetarian paella with optional proteins.
Featuring a variety of Neapolitan pizza as well as pizza fritta, a nostalgic childhood treat of fried pizza dough dusted with sugar, Maruca’s menu will also include grilled skirt steak with onions and chiles, braised and roasted pork belly, and “cowboy beans,” aka stewed pinto beans served with steak and grilled toast, along with seasonal specials.
Maruca grew up between Bonita and his hometown of Nocera Inferiore in the Campania region of Southern Italy and his father still runs the family’s importing business, which will supply premium olive oil and other Italian products that will be served on the menu and for sale at the restaurant. Inside, a deli case will stock salads, roasted vegetables, and other prepared foods like grab-and-go pizza.
Sporting a satellite bar on the patio, Cafe Califas will pour beer and wine, specializing in Baja-inspired sangria made with fresh juices. Maruca says he’s planning to host pizza and paella parties and guest chef collaborations with friends and Barrio Logan neighbors as well renting the outdoor space for private events.
Cafe Califas, 2219 Logan Avenue, Barrio Logan. Open starting at noon, Tuesday through Sunday.