A chic, upscale Italian restaurant that’s set to reveal itself on Thursday, August 3 at the Westfield UTC Mall is the first San Diego establishment for a major hospitality collective based out of Mexico City. Lucrezia is the newest offering from Grupo Hunan, which runs 30 restaurants across nearly a dozen brands spanning Italian, Mexican, and Chinese cuisines and also operates acclaimed sushi spot Nobu throughout Mexico.
The family-owned empire introduced the first Chinese restaurant to Mexico City in 1993, which became popular for its roast duck dishes. After the pandemic, the group debuted its inaugural U.S. restaurant in Los Angeles, the splashy Alma restaurant, which anchors the Grove with a casual taqueria on the ground floor and fine-dining space upstairs. Its award-winning design arm, Cuaik Comprehensive Design Studio (Cuaik CDS), handled the architecture, interior design, furniture, and artwork. Both Grupo Hunan and Cuaik CDS are run by three brothers and their sister, whose families all have homes in the San Diego area.
The Italian restaurant exudes the spirit of “la dolce vita,” capturing the vintage look of a Fellini film with servers dressed in white jackets and narrow black ties. Culinary and wine director Miguel Torres Flores lends his expertise to Lucrezia after launching two restaurants in Tijuana — Caccio Pizza and Rotisserie — and will next be helping the group to open another restaurant in Mexicali. Executive chef Paulo Sergio Mendoza is helming the San Diego kitchen and handling the day-to-day operations.
Highlights from the menu include dishes like grilled baby lamb chops, Florentine steak, housemade pasta, and Neapolitan-style pizza from its green-tiled Marraforni pizza oven. A dramatic, glass-enclosed wine cellar boasts a collection of over 65 wines showcasing Italian varietals and served in signature crystal limited-edition glasses. Sitting adjacent are cozy “date-night” tables for two alongside a model of a vintage red-and-white-striped Italian speedboat.
Replacing Larsen’s Steakhouse, the street-level restaurant seats up to 300 people in its indoor dining area and piazza-style outdoor terrace. To capture the authenticity of Italy, ceramics like playful rooster jugs and candle bases, along with all the green and red tiles, were imported from Italy. A large wrap-around bar made with Italian marble is surrounded by swiveling green-striped stools. Two private indoor and outdoor dining areas are also available, with the enclosed indoor dining area featuring its own bar and TV.
Lucrezia will eventually be open daily for lunch and dinner, offering a midday happy hour featuring specials on cocktails, oysters, and pizza.
Lucrezia, 4301 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite 1050. San Diego; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Dinner service only until mid-August. Happy hour will begin in September.