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FIRST LOOK: Marisi

This is big—the long-awaited La Jolla Italian restaurant with exec chef Chad Huff and three-star Michelin drinksman, Beau du Bois

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Marisi

Well, well, well. It’s a pretty house for some pretty (“extremely” also works) talented food and drink people. Marisi is finally opening this week in La Jolla. And filmmaker Jeremy Sazon got the first look inside.

Culinary director Erik Aronow cooked with Michael Voltaggio (Ink) and Jordan Khan (Vespertine). Executive chef Chad Huff hand started as a line cook at two-Star Michelin Providence, then worked under pasta master Evan Funke at Felix Trattoria. Beverage director Beau du Bois comes from three-star Michelin, The Restaurant at Meadowood.

Because this project was pushed back so many times (pandemic, supply chain, all the reasons) is their curse and your blessing. With each passing delay, they brainstormed a new way to make it special. So now Huff is dry-aging fish (crispier skin, better flavor), du Bois spent what seems like a decent portion of his life perfecting limoncello (they’ve got 200 gallons of the stuff stored in various places, awaiting your arrival)—dead set on salvaging its reputation from the acrid-sweet commercial versions most Americans know.

There’s focaccia made of Tehachapi red fife (a complex red wheat), arancini with chile and flor di latte, yellowfin crudo with sweet pepper coulis, lamb meatballs with mortadella. They will be making pasta every day (rigatoni with Calabrian chile, strascinati with lamb ragu, agnolotti with corn and crab and Aleppo peppers), woodsmoking all kinds of dishes (broccoli, romanesco with prosciutto and seven-year balsamic, artichoke with Italian fish sauce colatura, local mackerel with chickpeas and mint, mushrooms in brown butter, half-chicken with Calabrian chiles, dry-aged beef).

For the design, it starts with a 10-foot brick and tiled Italian hearth where the heart of the menu cooks. Tall-ceilinged, soft-shaded patio seating with bouganvilla dangling from the rafters. A massive white chandelier hanging above the bar that looks like white sequins or see-thru sand dollars. A private dining room called “The Lemon Room.” The custom tiles and mosaics clash and riot in the best ways. It’s located in the former space of beloved Whisknladle, and the roof has been raised to reveal the good vertigo of the rafters.

At the bar, it’s Italian aperitivos, rare spirits, and maxing the charms of vermouth and limoncello. Each meal here starts with the vermouth—specifically, Bordiga vermouths made from foraged plants.

Anyway, it’s here. It’s finally time. Please enjoy the video.

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