Meatballs @ Officine Buona Forchetta
The news of Buona Forchetta’s pizza skills have already been well-spread, and they continue the good dough work at their second location. But one of the tests any grandmother would judge an Italian restaurant on is their meatballs. And Officine’s are fantastic—a mix of pork and beef, perfectly rounded and browned (which caramelizes the outside, coaxing out a ton more flavor), with a deliciously bright marinara sauce and a dusting of Parmesan.
2865 Sims Rd, Liberty Station
Short Rib @ 608 Oceanside
I spent a few days up in Oceanside, which is booming right now with independent food and drink operators. One of the young stars is Willy Eick at 608 Oceanside, an open-air bistro just near Downtown. Try his short rib, which he marinates in soy and rice wine, and then plates it with roasted carrots (from Oceanside farm, Cyclops) over a panang curry sauce. The mix of panang (a great Thai stew with lemongrass, coconut cream, chiles) is a nice riff on a slow-cooked classic.
608 Mission Ave, Oceanside
Aji de Gallina @ Panca
The place to get good Peruvian food in Oceanside is this little joint in a strip mall in South O. Their lomo soltado (salted beef, a Peruvian classic) is excellent, and they serve rotisserie chickens. But this creamy little riff using the traditional Peruvian pepper (aji) reminded me of cream of chicken like American moms used to make in the 70s, only with far more south of the border flair.
1902 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside