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12 San Diego Tastemakers

From talented restaurateurs and master mixologists to visionary vinters and coffee connoisseurs, San Diego is an epicurean’s delight. Try a new cuisine, sample a signature cocktail, and savor a meal made from locally, sourced ingredients sure to impress your palate!



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Photo by Jenny Siegwart

Accursio Lotà

Executive Chef, Solare Ristorante

A farm-to-table focus and deep respect for locally sourced raw ingredients are the inspiration behind chef Accursio Lotà’s unique southern Italian menu. Born and raised in Menfi, Sicily, Lotà loves infusing foods with what he describes as “flavors of today mingled with details of generations past.” Blending modern and traditional techniques, Lotà is a master when it comes to playing with textures and tastes while honoring the simple essence of Italian cuisine. The result? Beautifully presented menu items that are delicately prepared, light, healthy, and brimming with flavor—attributes that have garnered him Best Chef awards from San Diego Magazine for three consecutive years.

Try this! Risotto with wild scallops, Grana Padano cheese, salted butter, fresh Italian truffles

2820 Roosevelt Road, San Diego | 619-270-9670 | solarelounge.com

 

Photo by Becca Batista

Michael Ground

Executive Chef, The Patio Group

Nostalgic, feel-good food is Executive Chef Michael Ground’s muse behind The Patio Group’s culinary program. Chef Ground grew up cooking with his father before pursuing a career in the financial industry. He quickly realized that sitting at a desk was not his true passion, and he returned to his first love: cooking. His seasonal menus for The Patio Group restaurants showcase simple ingredients transformed into timeless and delicious dishes. From hearty steak and potatoes entrées at Saska’s Steakhouse and Asian-fusion bao tacos at Bao Beach to light and refreshing trout salad at Fireside, Chef Ground continues to make waves in San Diego’s culinary scene.

Try this! Smoked trout and quinoa, caper shallot vinaigrette, castelvetrano olive, grape, almond, frisée, peppercress

2855 Perry Road, Building 8, San Diego | 619-432-2100 | firesidesd.com

 

Photo by Jenny Siegwart

Brandon Curry

Bar Supervisor, The Patio on Goldfinch

Serving up quality handcrafted cocktails is something that the bar supervisor of The Patio on Goldfinch, Brandon Curry, takes pride in. Featuring house-made syrups, the beverage program Brandon curated showcases classic cocktails as well as signature specialties. Inspired by local ingredients and driven by his passion for hospitality, Brandon is motivated by the only constant of the bar industry: Nothing is ever constant!

Try this! Out of Your Element: Bols Genever, Park Cognac, cinnamon, and lime

4020 Goldfinch Street, Mission Hills | 619-501-5090 | thepatioongoldfinch.com

 

Photo by Jenny Siegwart

Euan Parker and Joshua McCourt

Winemakers, Fallbrook Winery

Winemakers Euan Parker and Joshua McCourt bring expansive winemaking expertise to their respective roles at Fallbrook Winery, established in 1995. Their combined knowledge of winemaking from various regions—Europe, New Zealand, and California—makes the offerings at Fallbrook Winery both unique and complex. Wines reflect the distinct coastal-influenced terroir. Tasting and tours by appointment only.

Try this! 2012 33 Degrees North Estate Merlot: Intense, rich, dark plum, with soft tannins

2554 Vía Rancheros, Fallbrook | 760-728-0156 | fallbrookwinery.com

 

Photo by Jenny Siegwart

Jack Reynolds

Beverage Director, Starlite San Diego

Beverage director Jack Reynolds invites you to celebrate Starlite’s 10 years of excellence in San Diego! Starlite has been serving up crowd favorites like mules since 2007, one of the first Southern California bars to bring back this nostalgic favorite. One of San Diego’s hidden gems, Starlite specializes in craft cocktails, local food, and late-night dining in a wondrous atmosphere.

Try this! El Pinar: Los Javis mezcal, Ancho Reyes, Licor 43, lime, Tajín

3175 India Street, San Diego | 619-358-9766 | starlitesandiego.com

 

Matteo Cattaneo and Mario Cassineri

Owners, Officine Buona Forchetta

A spin-off of the beloved South Park eatery, Officine Buona Forchetta blends award-winning Neapolitan-style pies and Northern Italian upscale entrées in a family-friendly, approachable space. Co-owners Matteo Cattaneo and Mario Cassineri churn out authentic Neapolitan fare from their perch in the heart of Liberty Station. Focused on “fun dining,” these two keep it simple and tasty for fans and locals alike!

Try this! Crab Gnocchi: Dive into this decadent crab gnocchi dish from Chef Mario!

2865 Sims Road, Liberty Station | 619-548-5770 | officinebuonaforchetta.com

 

Photo by Becca Batista

Mondo Rodriguez

Director of Coffee, Swell Coffee Co.

Mondo Rodriguez didn’t find coffee; coffee found him. As director of coffee for Swell Coffee Co., Mondo fulfills his passion for supporting local businesses and quenching his thirst for learning. “Coffee is so much more than a morning drink. It is as complex and beautiful as the region it grows in.” His goal? To put San Diego on the map as a burgeoning coffee mecca.

Try this! El Salvador, San Antonio: Rich apricot, sweet toffee, and mild hazelnut

3833 Mission Boulevard, San Diego | 858-539-0039 | swellcoffeeco.com

 

Photo by Jenny Siegwart

Stafford Mather

Chef de Cuisine, Top of the Market, with Sous Chef Francisco Contreras

The award-winning restaurant on San Diego Bay is a local favorite open for lunch and dinner, featuring breathtaking views and an extensive chef-driven menu that changes daily. The restaurant’s dedicated staff seeks out crisp local produce, works with local fishermen to source the freshest seafood, and offers the finest prime meats in an elegant setting.

Try this! New Bedford sea scallops with vadouvan curry, parsnips, apple, and sorrel

750 North Harbor Drive, Marina District | 619-234-4867 | sdtopofthemarket.com

 

Photo by Jenny Siegwart

Roberto Vigilucci

Restaurateur, Vigilucci’s Restaurant Group

Vigilucci’s Restaurant Group offers something for everyone in coastal North County. At the helm, owner Roberto Vigilucci celebrates Italian customs by serving a complimentary gourmet appetizer plate in his restaurant bars. This “Art of the Aperitivo” is one of the many ways Vigilucci’s restaurants are unique. “Quality ingredients make authentic flavors; we start with the best and that’s the difference.”

Try this! Sashimi-grade ahi tuna, prosciutto di Parma, pineapple, jalapeño, brioche bun

3878 Carlsbad Boulevard, Carlsbad | 760-434-2580 | vigiluccis.com

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