Monday, November 22, 2010

Cucina Urbana

I heart Cucina Urbana.  Let me start off with that. I really do. I can’t wait to go back.

I had heard the buzz about Cucina Urbana for a while, but just didn’t have the time to check out it. Finally, I made some time.  I invited my friend Steve who is always up for trying out new spots. BF came too of course. Since dining at CU, I can see why its business  strategy has kept it extremely successful and popular.

CU focuses on using local produce (organic when possible), and offering affordable food. No dish is priced over $20 and the wine is sold at retail.

Sometimes when I hear a lot of buzz about someplace, I am a little wary that it won’t live up to the hype. But I had a good feeling about Cucina Urbana.  When we arrived, the place was busy and packed, but our table was already waiting for us. I immediately loved the open atmosphere, and the bar that seems to wrap around the middle of the dining section. Everyone inside seemed as happy as clams, which was a good sign.

Once seated, our waitress appeared. She was so sweet and friendly and seemed to genuinely love her job (is that even possible?) She seemed really happy to be working and serving us.

She asked us if we had any questions, and we had a few since it was our first time, and she was extremely informative with her responses. Being the type A personality that I am, I had of course, researched the menu online the night before. Reviewing the menu had gotten me even more excited about CU.

Almost everything I read on the menu sounded fresh, innovative, and delicious. And what was most amazing of all were the prices. Not a single dish over $20. Looking at the ingredients and the descriptions, I would have guessed more expensive prices. But that is one of the things that makes this place so great.

Since it was our first time, we decided to order quite a few things from the menu in order to get a better idea of what CU has to offer.

CU offers a selection of “vasi,” or little jars of spread served with bread. They all sounded pretty good, but we decided to try the chicken liver pate.

The jar of pate was quite full and we had plenty to spread on our bread and still had a lot leftover.  As we began to run low on our bread, the waitress immediately brought over more bread without us even having to ask. I began to notice that throughout the night, she was constantly checking to make sure we had everything, even if she didn’t always verbally come to speak to us (though she did that as well.) Great service was another reason why I had such a lovely experience here.

We chose fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese for an appetizer. The squash blossoms were so pretty.  The plate looked small, but it was enough for each of us to have two squash blossoms. The blossoms were served with a side of fresh made pesto.

Deciding on entrees was hard. Everything looked good.  Our waitress told us that her favorite dish was the whole roasted brook trout.  Steve chose that one.

The trout was served whole and boneless, which I thought was pretty cool. It did have a few small bones remaining, but it is hard to completely debone a trout. The flavor of the fish was fantastic. I loved the lemony taste. The skin was nice and crispy and the fish was very moist.  We all agreed that this was our favorite entree.

BF chose the short rib pappardelle, served with cremini mushroom and parmigiano. I loved the wide  noodles used in this dish. The short rib was very tender. We all enjoyed this dish too, just not as much as the trout.

As soon as I saw truffle oil on the menu on several dishes, I knew I had to get one with truffle oil. I debated between a pasta and a pizza and ended up choosing pizza since we already had one pasta dish.  The foraged mushroom pizza was topped with mushrooms and drizzled with truffle oil.

The truffle oil aroma was so intoxicating. I am convinced almost anything tastes good with truffle oil, so there isn’t much to say about this pizza.  Ever since eating it, I’ve been craving truffle oil all week.

Despite being completely full, we decided to split a dessert.  We opted for a roasted strawberry fregolata. The dessert arrived piping hot.  I didn’t love the dessert as much as I loved the meal.  It wasn’t a bad dessert; it just wasn’t my favorite. I thought the strawberries were a little too tart and overall I thought the dessert was a lot more simple than the description, and was something I could make myself.

We left feeling extremely satisfied and full. I can’t wait until my next visit and I can’t wait to take more friends here. Perhaps more restaurants should follow CU’s footsteps.

Cucina Urbana
505 Laurel St,
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-2222
http://www.cucinaurbana.com/Cucina Urbana on Urbanspoon

 

9 Responses to “Cucina Urbana”

  1. 1

    Carol — November 22, 2010 @ 10:51 am

    Looks like an amazing dinner! Everything sound and looks so good. I would have been all over that pate and the short rib papardelle.

    • claribelle replied: — November 22nd, 2010 @ 11:14 am

      Everything was yummy and reasonably priced.

  2. 2

    moowiesqrd — November 22, 2010 @ 11:03 am

    Gorgeous shots! I found it really hard to get good shots at Cucina Urbana without an DSLR. What do you use? I do, however, have some iPhone shots that turned out great (go figure). And I LOVE that place… try to go whenever I’m in the mood for some good food, wine, and friends. Next time, definitely try the bittersweet chocolate budino. We’ve been through most of their dessert menu and, sadly, the desserts all pale in comparison to the budino!

    • claribelle replied: — November 22nd, 2010 @ 11:14 am

      I used my dslr (Canon t2i) but I still was having problems getting crisp shots. Oh, the chocolate budino! we were debating between that and the strawberry, now I wish I got that one. Next time! I’m definitely going back really soon. Love that place. I want to invite friends down to visit just so I can take them!

  3. 3

    Mary — November 22, 2010 @ 11:48 am

    The food looks amazing – the pizza with mushrooms and truffle oil sounds really, really good to me. I have a mild obsession with mushrooms after all!

    • claribelle replied: — November 22nd, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

      I love mushrooms. I kept picking off all the mushrooms on this pizza and eating them first. Mushrooms + truffle oil is an amazing combination.

  4. 4

    caninecologne — November 22, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

    hi kirbie – this place does have really good food! went here a few months ago with co-workers – we got that short rib pappardelle but family sized it. plus we got a few pizzas and fried squash blossoms.

    • claribelle replied: — November 22nd, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

      Which pizzas did you get/like? So glad to hear so many other people agree with me about Cucina Urbana!

  5. 5

    caninecologne — November 22, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

    i’ll have to look at my old post – but off the top of my head, one of them had caramelized onions with arugula. it was so good! the only thing about this place was that it’s a bit noisy in there. i’m not into crowds either but my GBF really loves this place and this is where we took him for his bday.

    i remember when this place used to be “Laurel” – my husband and i had our valentine’s dinner there back in 2007.

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