One of my favorite outdoor dining spaces in San Diego has always been the patio at Lei Lounge, a mainstay in University Heights for years. When it closed, there was bummers all around. Now, it’s reopening as Madison, and it includes a menu by one of my favorite Italian chefs in San Diego—Mario Cassineri, partner and exec chef of BICE Ristorante in Downtown San Diego.

Cassineri’s a Northern Italian kid through and through, so expect Madison to serve a bunch of Mediterranean fare, along with a full craft cocktail bar (by Dan Dufek), local beers, and a good wine program.  Overseeing the day-to-day of the kitchen will be chef Tony Guitierrez, who worked under Cassineri at BICE for the last four years.

The owner behind this is Jeffrey Fink, who’s also a partner in FLUXX in Downtown, as well as owner of one of the last indie record shops on the planet, M-Theory Records. (in Mission Hills). For Madison, he pulled in FLUXX design team Anna and David Sindelar of San Diego-based Archisects.

The design is a replication of Victorian-era storefronts. The place is riddled with cedar woods, and they’ve transformed the back space into a geometric indoor-outdoor dining room with vaulted ceilings and views of the famous San Diego sky. It looks like you're dining inside of a gigantic musical instrument or some sort. The music will also be important, curated by M-Theory.

The friends-and-family dinners kick off today, and it will be open to the general public on Dec. 31.  From that point on, it's open from 4PM to 10PM every Tuesday through Sunday.

Enough words. Please enjoy the first known photos in the universe of University Heights’ new attraction.  4622 Park Blvd., University Heights.

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