Grandma is getting a more permanent home. Rosemarie’s—the gourmet Wagyu slider food truck that’s been tied like a dingy of deliciousness to Harland Brewing in Bay Park—is setting up a permanent shop in Mission Beach in May (3852 Mission Boulevard, taking over the Now Sushi spot).
It’ll be a slider haven, with plenty of craft beer (especially sours), and an ode to grandparents who give a damn. Chef-owner Nick Balsamo gave up his pretty successful career as a strategist in the military because of his grandma, Rosemarie.
“She was my best friend,” says Balsamo, taking a break from his truck, his young son on his lap. “If I went through a dark time, she’d call. Send me a basket or something. When she passed, I just realized life is too short. I have my degrees but I wanna be a chef.”
He went to culinary school and trained in Hong Kong before starting his own catering pop-up concepts in Phoenix in 2018. Then on a trip to San Diego, he made the fatal mistake of trying O.B. Noodle House wings (some of the best in the city). “I had those wings, looked at my wife and said, ‘San Diego’s got an amazing food scene; we gotta move here,’” he says.
So they did.
I’m staring at a tray of sliders. Each of these puppies is $10. By predetermined slider standards, instinct says, “But, wait, I can get one of those for five bucks at the place with the meat and the bread.” Yes. But you cannot get Nick’s sliders. First, they’re not normal-sized sliders. One is a meal. Plus, they’re very good, for many reasons.
Nick uses 90 percent Wagyu beef (10 percent chuck). Kewpie mayo (Japanese mayo, the best mayo because it has MSG—and before you start thinking about headaches, know that multiple university studies have proven that MSG has no negative health side effects). Brioche buns (the best bun, made of flour and luxurious amounts of butter). He confits onions, cooks them down with marsala and sherry until they become a paste, then slathers it on his sliders. He spends a couple hours reducing a bacon-whiskey sauce, which is also generously applied.
Try the We Have Eggplant, a vegetarian slider with fried eggplant in a Korean barbecue sauce. Or the RosieMac, with two stacked patties, an animal fry–adjacent spread, onion confit, jack cheese, Kewpie. And the Bombay Hot Chicken, slathered in a rather angry, spicy curry. Or the Little Sal, with that bacon-whiskey sauce and arugula. Get the spicy elote fries for the table, with roasted sweet corn, ranch, chipotle aioli, pickled peppers, Cotija, and microgreens.
Sitting at Harland (which, by the way, is one of the greater little beer patios to hang in, especially if you got kids—they have a whole area for minis), Nick’s son grabs his face, demands attention. His friend, creative director and photographer/videographer Gabe Halvor, takes some pics, documenting his friend’s hustle. Nick’s wife stands nearby holding their daughter. They’re one of many families juggling a lot. Come May 1, their juggling starts to make even more sense. With four walls instead of wheels, a round-the-clock, sweat-based dream inspired by grandma Rosemarie gets a little more real.
Rosemarie’s will be slinging sliders at Harland Brewing Co. (4112 Napier Street) until they’ve secured the keys to their less mobile home.
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