With the arrival of Marisi, downtown La Jolla has a fresh dining option that’s also looking to set itself apart from the sea of other Italian restaurants in San Diego. Opened by a group of five cousins, all La Jolla natives, the restaurant is now serving dinner Wednesday through Sunday.
Designed in-house, the 111-seat Marisi emerges in the former Wall Street home of Whisknladle, retaining the enormous front patio that’s now decorated in sunny colors with flowering vines hanging high above its tiled floor. There’s more intimate seating inside the space, which is dominated by a half-moon bar and an open kitchen anchored by a 10-foot hearth where much of the menu is cooked. There’s also a private dining room, dubbed ‘The Lemon Room,’ done up in a print inspired by the signature citrus of Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
Executive chef Chad Huff and VP of bar and spirits Beau du Bois, alums of Michelin-starred spots in Los Angeles and Napa Valley, are the restaurant’s culinary leads. The menu’s robust selection of handmade pastas includes strascinati, an oblong pasta paired with lamb ragu, and will expand to include future shapes like twisted spirals of trofie and capunti, a short pasta with little sauce-catching divots. Other plates range from mackerel with chickpeas and olives and artichokes served with mint aioli to larger dishes featuring dry-aged fish and select cuts of dry-aged American wagyu. Cocktails lean on classics made with a twist, from homemade limoncello, rested for six months using Sorrento lemons, to build-your-own martinis poured tableside and a bellini made with white peaches and dry Portuguese wine, force carbonated so that each component is universally bubbly.
Marisi, 1044 Wall Street, La Jolla. Open Wednesday through Sunday at 5 p.m. until close.