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New & Notable - March 2011


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[ Empire House ]

A cursed space on University Avenue (where Better Half Bistro and The Big Easy have tanked in the past few years) gets a brave new concept and menu. Empire House promises gourmet food-truck fare (fancy tacos, housemade everything, daily menu changes) in a casual bistro setting. It’s BYOB until owners get their liquor license, but Mission Hills Liquor a few blocks north on Lewis Street has a great selection of wine and craft beer. 127 University Avenue.

[ Naked Pizza ]

Going for world domination? Not quite, but the Naked Pizza franchise is diving headfirst into a heated pizza battle zone in Hillcrest with a new location on University Avenue near Fifth. Pizza Fusion, Arrivederci Pizza (near the sit-down location) and longtime stronghold Bronx Pizza each have loyal followers within a few blocks of the Naked shop. Which pie will reign supreme? Stay tuned. nakedpizza.com.

[ Bayu’s ]

An Ethiopian family has taken over the marquee restaurant space that once held Café Bleu and Crush at the corner of Fifth Avenue and University. The focus is on family recipes and low prices. So far, the neighborhood seems to be embracing the new concept, according to several dozen Yelp reviews.

[ Au Revoir French Bistro ]

We finally got in to sample the French menu at Au Revoir. Tres bon, for the most part, as the food is simple and the vibe is a similar Euro-bustling-chic one to that of the owners’ other establishments, Arrivederci and Il Postino. aurevoirbistro.com.

[ Tre Porcellini ]

Italian for “three little pigs,” Tre Porcellini is now open in the former Bite space on University Avenue in Hillcrest. Despite the name and a pink piggy logo, the concept and menu offer much more than pork. Pastas and traditional sauces take up most of the menu, with a few more-modern appetizers (mac ’n’ cheese risotto, Carlsbad mussels with champagne vinegar and black pepper). We love the Happy Hour offering $3.50 wine and beer options. ­treporcellini.net.

[ Public House ]

The folks behind Encinitas Ale House took on a new lease in La Jolla (where Burgundy Grill & Wine Bar once was) and plan to open a similar establishment called Public House, serving up lots of local and international craft brews and simple pub food. Here’s hoping the innovative craft brewers help revitalize La Jolla’s restaurant scene. the-publichouse.com.

[ Burger Lounge ]

We noticed two new locations of the perennial “Best Burger” contender: one in Hillcrest at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Robinson; one in the Gaslamp on Fifth Avenue. When will North County folks get their quinoa burgers and half-and-half fries and onion rings? burgerlounge.com.

[ Revolver ]

Gaslamp club Voyeur (with its landmark light wall that pulses behind famous deejays spinning to a crowd of partyers on the dance floor) recently launched a new restaurant on the premises, called Revolver, with only a handful of tables and just four booths. The club is billing the dining experience as “intimate,” with a menu of sharable small plates like sliders, flatbreads and, hopefully, earplugs. revolversd.com.

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