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San Diego Food News: Jon Mangini's New Restaurant

Jon Mangini announces massive new restaurant Gang Kitchen; Bencotto expands

What a big month for the semi-vacant block behind Fleetwood. As we mentioned last post, Ty Hauter (Tipsy Crow, Bub’s, etc.) is turning Culy Warehouse into a massive “House of Blues meets Squid Row” called Block 16 Union & Spirits

And now?

Jon Mangini, the man behind BASIC pizza and URBN, has announced his biggest project yet. He’s taken over the 5,000-square foot warehouse at 345 6th Ave and plans to open Gang Kitchen this summer. The concept? Asian. His chef-partner? No slouch. Jo Ann Plympton, with experience at Le Gavroche with Albert Roux (the first UK restaurant to get three Michelin stars), plus Aja (Chicago), Sofia (S.F.), the list goes on. The designer? Local bigwig Graham Downes. As Mangini explains, the goal is not to construct the place, but “deconstruct it,” bringing the old warehouse back to its raw, industrial-steel origins. Expect 25-foot ceilings, backlit, slow-moving ceiling fans, massive communal dining table, concrete-and-metal bars, chill lounge furniture… and Asian graffiti. Dishes? Plympton promises grilled beef Shanghai style, pulled pork in mango-lime sauce, all served family-style with small plates like triple crème crab rangoon and Szechwan lobster crepes. They’ll also have pho and ramen, which makes this the third piece of SD’s “gringo-noodles” trend (joining Underbelly and Gaijin). The bar will be progressive cocktails and, what we’re truly excited about if they do it right, a premium collection of sakes—nigori, junmai, junmai ginjo and junmai daigingo. Sake’s time is now. Apparently Gang Kitchen is the concept Mangini came to San Diego to build. Though sidetracked with his bazillion-dollar pizza empire, he’s been working on this for 10 years. www.gangkitchen.com.

In Little Italy… There is a god, and he likes gnocco fritto. The long-rumored next move of Little Italy’s mod Northern Italian gem, Bencotto, has finally been consummated. They’ve signed the lease for the space next door—formerly DNA, a design studio—and will “have it’s own identity” owner Valentina Di Pietro is adamant to point out. “It will be our DNA of authentic Italian married with modernity,” she explains. “But with another twist and fresh approach.” Lovebencotto.com.

Over in North Park, another local favorite also moved into the neighbor’s spot. The Smoking Goat has officially signed the lease next door in the former space of North Park Fish Market. Owner Fred Phiel will tear down the wall and add a bar with a whole new beer program. Thesmokinggoatrestaurant.com.

About This Blog

Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, with reporting (read: eating) lead by food editor Troy Johnson. Looking for the Erins? Erin Chambers Smith and Erin Meanley? Find their most recent musings over at the Around Town blog. And yes, we know that one needs a new name. We're working on it. 

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