Best Things I Ate This Month
December: Seared Ono, French Toast, and Carbonara
Seared Ono @ Pacifica Del Mar
Located at the sunny apex of Plaza Del Mar, Pacifica recently hired a new exec chef, Stephany O’Mary-Berwald. She and her husband (who’s currently the Food & Beverage Director at Loews Coronado) relocated from L.A., where Berwald helmed grab-and-go spot Gram & Papa’s and Palihouse Courtyard Brasserie. The pan-seared medallions of ono are the star of her new menu—thick rounds served over baby romanesca and cauliflower with roasted pine nuts. It’s very good, until dipped into the tarragon remoulade. Then it becomes downright rapturous.
French Toast @ Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge
For all its island grandeur, Coronado is short on well-designed restaurants that capture a sense of “now”. Leroy’s does just that with its wooden exterior, wide-open façade and local art. Executive chef Gregory Chavez worked under AR Valentine’s master, Jeff Jackson, and the entire menu is solid. With a good late-night scene, Leroy’s is the kind of place you can wind late into the night with craft beer and return in the morning for the berry brioche French toast. It’s so thick we expected it to be dry, but Chavez keeps the cake-like consistency throughout and slathers it with a Chambord reduction and raspberry Mascarpone.
Carbonara @ Monello
The trio of Milanese behind highly successful, modern Italian restaurant Bencotto just opened their second concept—right next door. Nuts? Not really. Monello truly is a different concept, with every item an ode to Italian street food. Shaved young cheese (raspadura) is popular among Italy’s rustic poor. The mini-calzones (panzerotti) were inspired by Luini Panzerotti, a Milan street vendor so famous that Monello’s owners make an annual trek to his joint by the Duomo. I didn’t have one bad bite at a recent tasting, but it was Fabrizio Cavallini’s carbonara spaghetti that especially floored me, perfectly slick with oil, pecorino, eggs, criss-crossed bacon atop and black pepper vapors on each bite.