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FIRST LOOK: Cucina Sorella

Tracy Borkum's new pasta boutique opens in former Ken Grill spot


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Kensington was the spot of Tracy Borkum’s first success, nearly 20 years ago. There the restaurateur opened Kensington Grill, a bistro that featured chef Hanis Cavin (now chef-owner of Carnitas Snack Shack) cooking for a perfectly charming, dimly lit room. Now, of course, Borkum has launched into a sort of super-success with her Urban Kitchen Group (Cucina Urbana, Cucina Enoteca), with four huge locations in SoCal.

But she never let go of the relatively small, 3,500 square-foot Ken Grill spot at 4055 Adams Avenue. Old loves die hard. She re-concepted as Fish Public a couple years ago, but that didn’t quite take hold. Now she’s re-cast it again as Cucina Sorella, a pasta-heavy bistro full of floral prints, pillows, ornate light fixtures, and a bunch of greenery. Urban Kitchen Group’s exec chef Joe Magnanelli will oversee, but daily cooking is turned to chef de cuisine Daniel Wolinsky, who was a sous at iconic NYC Italian eatery, Frankies Spuntino, and Prime Meats. He also spent time at one of the world’s best restaurants, Osterio Francescana in Modena, Italy.

So Wolinsky knows a thing or two about Italian food. The pastas will all be made in-house, and antipasti will be constructed according to seasonal bounty. Wine director Augusto Ferrarese will curate both Italian and west coast bottles, the bar will have about a dozen craft cocktails plus local craft beers, and there will be a list of “zero-proof” drinks for the growing number of abstainers.

Borkum will continue what is a pretty genius idea—especially in the day of smaller and smaller profit margins for restaurants. That is, her retail aspect. Sorella will have a boutique where customers can buy homemade candles, soaps, garden stuff, party stuff, and other wares designed by Borkum or sourced from other creatives. And she’ll continue her offer to sell anything you like in the restaurant—chairs, tables, aprons, glassware, décor, whatever—on her online store, Urban Kitchen Shop.

Please enjoy the first known photos in the universe of Cucina Sorella below…

Sorella officially opens Thursday, May 26. Though they’re soft-opening starting today (remember that this is rehearsal, so be kind, Mr. and Mrs. Yelp). They'll be serving dinner Tuesday through Sunday, starting at 5 p.m, and a limited menu happy hour starting at 4 p.m. 619.281.4014, Cucinasorella.com.

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