Sink your fork into this: Buona Forchetta is here, and it’s GLORIOUS!
After much anticipation, Garage Buona Forchetta is finally opening its doors at the former digs of the iconic El Cordova Garage.
Written up in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Sunset Magazine and Food and Wine, the Buona Forchetta family of restaurants is known for his authentic, undeniably delicious and award-winning Neapolitan-style pizzas. Not to mention its global wine list, chef-driven pastas, to-die-for salads, and…holy moly…the cannoli!
My husband and I were lucky enough to attend the Friends and Family soft opening last night, and it was nothing short of fantastico.
First off, the charming little neighborhood market as you enter from C Avenue is plucky and inviting. It’s stuffed with delicious Italian imports that would be welcome in any kitchen.
The wide-open feel is spacious, yet warm, with a lots of light. The design and decor honors the original theme of the building, celebrating the nostalgia of a 1940s garage. You’ll find lots of old signs and relics from El Cordova, sure to appease local diners and tickle fond memories of yesteryear.
You’ll love the kitchen, where the pizza-making is open for viewing.
And yes, that’s a giant Connect-Four game in the entry.
My husband loved his cocktail, and I enjoyed sipping my glass(es) of Chianti.
But the “Good Fork,” as the restaurant name translates from Italian, is really famous for its food. The smoked salmon salad is right up my alley, and the Sofia Pizza…spettacolare! (Did you know that all the pizzas are wood-fired in a special oven flown direct from Italy?)
The best part? The warm and friendly Italian vibes. Everything about our dining experience dripped with kindness and enthusiasm. What’s not to love?
And I’m delighted to say that Garage Buona Forchetta will be debuting an in-house food delivery and curbside service. Stay tuned for more on that.
It’s Saturday afternoon at the newly-opened Boardwalk Beach Club and everyone is there: yacht clubbers, best friends, city council members, the school principal, lacrosse Dads and ladies who lunch. Seems like the locals already have it figured out…the Boardwalk is the place to be!
I’m not going to lie. I was a bit dubious when I heard the concept. A casual beach eatery with a game room? Really? I imagined sunburned tourists, primary colors, dinging arcade games, blaring televisions, and my two daughters fighting each other to dig through my purse for quarters.
I’m happy to report it’s nothing of the sort!
When you walk in, you’re greeted with an upscale bar area reminiscent of Maretalia, but somehow quietly transformed into a place you would feel comfortable ordering everything from an umbrella-topped beach cocktail to a beer. Or get a glass of Veuve, if you’re feeling fancy!
You’ll enjoy the cool-toned beach accents and the stylish surf art. The bar still feels posh and disarmingly adult, and that’s perfect. (There are indeed flat screens for game-watching, but the set-up does not drip of “sports bar.”)
Wandering out of the bar, you’ll find smiling spaces with fun 1970s and 1980s references. (Check out the Fast Times at Ridgemont High quotes and Jeff Spicoli mural.) You kind of get the feeling everyone was laughing when they were putting this together, and that’s cool.
Around the corner you will find a casual dining space with more than peek-a-boo sunset views (they took down that imposing wall, hooray!). You’ll also find a playful mermaid mural with…wait for it…fishbowl boobs! (Complete with Beta fish.) My first thought was: my kids are going to run up and touch the beta fish boobs. And for some reason, that doesn’t seem weird at all. There’s also a nice pool table set up in this area. (Turns out the mermaid is a reference to the bar set up in Animal House. Remember?)
The outside dining area attached to the bar is still inviting and serene, affording palm-lined views of Orange Avenue and a glimpse into the game room.
Yes, the game room. Guess what? You almost forgot it was there.
“You can’t even tell the game room is back here when you first walk in,” explained Gus, the manager. “I have to remind people to go check it out!”
But it’s a legit game room! There’s a good selection of fun vintage games GenXers will love. You’ll find Mortal Combat, The Simpsons Game, Ski Ball, Pac Man, and more.
There’s also a foosball table, and even a claw machine! (Don’t despair, moms…check it out: on one side of the claw machine, you can play ‘til you win!)
Now, onto the adult stuff…the drinks! The cocktail selection is robust and features everything from magaritas like the Island Girl Skinny (ahem…I’ll have to try that one) and festive boat drinks like mojitos, Shipwrecked Punch, Sex on Central Beach, and a Bahama Mama. Or indulge in a tiki cocktail like a Rum Runner, an In Orbit, the Jackass or the Singapore Sling. Don’t forget the frozen drinks like the Lava Flow, and if you’re really going to get crazy, order a punch bowl which serves 2-3 people.
I’m doing Dry January so I ordered the Peaching Around, a “zero proof libation,” and loved it.
My alcohol-consuming lunch date loved her “In Orbit” with Tanquaray, Aperol, orange curacao and passionfruit, and also the Shipwrecked Punch with Malibu Rum, New Amsterdam Gin, jouse lemongrass green tea simple and pineapple juice. Some other friends ordered the Honey Jalapeno Margarita and really liked it. The appetizers all looked enticing, but we settled on the Crispy Popcorn Shrimp with chili aioli and banana pepper, and the Hawaiian BBQ Sticky Pork Lettuce Wraps. Both were amazing!
For entrees, we ordered the Roasted Cauliflower Al Pastor Tacos with guac, mozerlla, grilled pineapple and pickled red onion. I loved these! Sweet and savory. We also got the Drive Thru Burger and hello…I’m not really a burger person, but I would definitely get this again. It’s perfect. Just order it. (It also came with a refreshing side salad and homemade chips.)
Finally we got the Island-Style Plate with grilled mahi mahi. It came with mac salad and white sticky rice. The fish was perfectly cooked and the plate was delicious.
As we relaxed and enjoyed our meal, things started to get busier. Turns out there is a (wait for it) DAILY HAPPY HOUR from 3-6pm (all night Mondays with a military I.D.) The above mentioned Drive-Thru Burger and Pork Lettuce wraps and the popcorn shrimp are ALL ON THE HAPPY HOUR MENU.
The verdict? I loved the Boardwalk Beach Club and I’ll definitely bring my family in for happy hour. I imagine we’ll bring some quarters, sit outside and send the kids packing to the game room. The food is top notch and the vibe is upscale and playful. Assuming the food and the service continue to be this awesome, the Boardwalk will be on heavy rotation. See you there!
I’m a bonafide oyster freak, so I was delighted to learn that Maretalia is hosting its first ever OysterFest next weekend. Maretalia is celebrating the end-of-summer in style with ENDLESS OYSTERS (as in all you can eat!) as well as bottomless Prosecco! I mean, what’s not to love?
It’s all happening at Maretalia Saturday, September 14th from 12pm-3pm. The price is $50 a ticket for everything—(must be 21 and up) AND, I’ve got a DISCOUNT CODE! (Keep reading for code.)
“OysterFest has been a labor of love that we have been talking about for months,” said Lauren Lemus, General Manager at Maretalia. “It gets so busy on Coronado over the summer and this event gives everyone an opportunity to wind down, relax and enjoy themselves.”
Not like you need a reason to sip champs and suck down oysters, but in case you aren’t convinced, read on for my Top Ten Reasons to Attend OysterFest.
You can test your oyster-eating prowess. How many can you eat in one sitting? I’m sure I can handle at least two dozen. Maybe I’ll go for three.
Pop that Prosecco….as many bottles as you like! Enjoybottomless Campo Viejo Prosecco.
…Or, indulge in a refreshing Lillet Spritzer. Beat the heat with a cool spritzer, (as many as you want.)
Listen to live music. Guests will be treated to the music of Jenny O’Henny (think an eclectic mix of jazz, blues, and R&B.)
Get a free ride. Um, isn’t it amazing that Blue Bridge does this? Maretalia offers complimentary round-trip car service for residents and visitors in the 92118 ZIP code, including the Cays and surrounding Coronado hotels. Yes, please!
Savor and sample limitless “small bites.” If you need to take a break in between servings of endless oysters, enjoy some small bites like meatball sliders. Also, included in the ticket fee!
Beat the heat and enjoy the A.C. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have air conditioning in my home, so anywhere I can relax in doors in the cool air is pretty fab.
Celebrate the glamorous life. There’s just something so luxurious and classy about Maretalia. It just oozes opulence.
Toast the end of summer with all your friends! Is there a better way to send-off-summer?
Save $5 with the Island Girl discount code! Buy your tickets herebefore they sell out, and on the first page enter ISLANDGIRL1300 as your discount code.
See you at OysterFest! (Bet I can eat more than you can.)
When the much-buzzed about Henry Restaurant officially opened for lunch on Tuesday, I made sure I had a reservation. After all, my social media feeds were BLOWING UP with pictures and rave reviews from diners who attended the soft opening over the weekend.
I had to find out for myself…is the Henry worth the hype?
After all, this is the fourth of three wildly-successful Henry restaurants run by Sam Fox—the others are in Phoenix, West Hollywood and Dallas. An eleven-time James Beard Award nominee for Outstanding Restaurateur, Fox is the founder of True Food Kitchen, and has launched several other eateries in the San Diego area including North Italia, Blanco Tacos + Tequila, and one of my favs…Flower Child in Del Mar.
Besides, people have been FREAKING OUT over this place. I mean, has there ever been so much controversy over a new restaurant in town?
First, everyone’s mad at the developer for kicking out Costa Azul. Then people are upset that Fox is from Arizona. (To be fair, he reportedly owns a home on the island.) Next, we find out that Fox Restaurant Concepts has been bought out by the Cheesecake Factory, and we worry we will have to carry around buzzers, downgrade our wardrobes and pack on pounds from deep-fried avocado rolls. Now, we’re worried about Luis and Jason at the coffee cart next door (a legit concern, as the sign touting the Henry’s coffee offerings is right next to Cafe Madrid.)
“Corporate capitalism at its worst!” “Coronado will never be the same.” “What happened to our quaint little town?”
Don’t you know? We live in Coronado. We like things to stay the same. We fear change.
We don’t do chains. We don’t do upside-down Christmas trees. And we don’t like it when an outside developer comes in and kicks out our mom and pop shops. (Whether or not we actually shopped them.)
Then a bunch of locals attend the soft opening, and the tide turns faster than you can say, “avocado toast.”
“Exquisite!” “Sam Fox does it again!” “Can’t wait to go back!”
Guess what? Everyone loves the Henry. And you know what? So do I. (How fickle we are!)
First of all, there’s nothing like it in Coronado. You don’t even feel like you’re in Coronado. (And this, my friends, is not a bad thing.)
We were greeted with a smile by a friendly, pretty hostess in trendy dreadlocks, who assured us our table would be ready at our designated time. (It was.)
The place was absolutely packed. Everyone was there. Ladies who lunch, hospitality execs, lawyers on lunch break, PTO moms, working dads, grandmas, Cross Fit moms, even my mom (she was my date.)
I saw no less than 20 people that I knew. And everyone was smiling!
“Smell my sangria, it’s delicious!” “Get the tuna rice dish.” “This place is amazing!”
The space feels sophisticated, spry, energetic and urban, more like something you’d see in La Jolla or downtown. The decor has been described as everything from “Gatsby-era elegance” to “stylish and inviting.” Fox has said, “We are striving for an elevated design with attention to every detail.”
Although the space was probably close to capacity, it didn’t seem crowded, thanks to the genius layout. There are just so many places to wine and dine! There’s the tranquil outdoor seating area with a fireplace, the inviting indoor/outdoor bar with barstools, some cool high tops, and some really spacious (yet somehow cozy-feeling) booths. There’s also a big private room with a fireplace in the back.
A stylish surfer-mural is splashed against the back, while another wall is adorned with (charmingly) mis-matched framed artwork. A huge exhibition window lines the entire rear of the restaurant, giving guests a big view of the bustling kitchen. (Lots of hustle in there.)
First off, our waitress. She was amazing! Professional, kind, and plucky. In fact every human we encountered was in top form. (I later read that Fox prides his restaurants on “great hospitality, every time.”)
And then there’s the cocktail menu. Hello! Everyone was a-buzz about the pink sangria on tap.
Sadly, I’m trying not drink alcohol during the week (lame, I know) so I settled for a house-made soda…the one with English cucumber, mint and lime.
I wasn’t sad at all! It was refreshing and delicious! I didn’t even care that I wasn’t drinking wine. Look at me, all healthy!
To start, my mom and I opted for the much-touted spicy tuna with crispy rice. Yes, please! My mom doesn’t even like raw fish and she loved it.
For our entrees, I ordered the Harvest Bowl with melted sweet potato, ancient grains, grilled portobello, caramelized cauliflower, avocado and other assorted goodness. My mom got the Korean Steak and Avocado Bowl, with double egg fried rice, bok choy, snow peas, pickled shiitake, and spicy ginger butter.
Yes and yes! Seriously though, what’s not to love? The menu has something for everyone. We’re talking handmade ricotta cavatelli, house made pretzels in cheese fondue, short rib potstickers, and a spicy fried chicken sandwich. And lots of healthy options too, as well as gluten-free and vegan. The Henry serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as a pretty awesome happy hour ($6 for a glass of Petite Syrah? Yes, please.)
We were too stuffed for dessert, but I noted the menu, and yes–the warm croissant bread pudding is in my future.
I opted instead for another house-made soda (so good!) This time I ordered the strawberry & mandarin, in a to-go cup, in case I didn’t finish it. (I did…yum!)
So is the Henry everything it’s cracked up to be? Absolutely. I loved it so much, I made reservations for my family this weekend. My girlfriends came for lunch and stayed for seven solid hours!
I know some people are worried.
Is the Henry just the beginning of a widespread transformation that will turn Coronado into a bourgeois cosmopolitan spectacle like Del Mar or La Jolla? I hope not. Maybe.
But if it is, and change is inevitable, then the Henry is a major silver lining.
Besides. What makes our little island so special is the people. Not the businesses or the buildings that go up (or down) around us.
We will always be a small town at heart. We love each other. (Sure, sometimes we hate each other.) But we always bring over soup when you’re sick, and we will pick up your kid from school if you’re running late.
We’ll loan you a watermelon scooper, a paddle board, or a sequin dress. We’ll find your lost kid at concert in the park, or your lost tortoise when he escapes yet again. (Seriously? How many tortoises can this town lose in a week?)
So why not be nice to each other over an Acai bowl at the Henry?
Will I ever buy coffee at the walk-up window at the Henry? I doubt it. I’m sure I’ll keep going to Luis and Jason at Cafe Madrid. They’re always fun to talk to, and they make my nonfat chai just the way I like it.
But I am excited to see many of my small-town friends at the Henry, next time with my fork in a bread pudding, a smile on my face, and a glass of wine on in my hand.
Open wide! There’s a party in your mouth, and it’s all going down at Feast and Fareway.
The newly opened hotspot at the Coronado Golf Course started dinner service in its main dining room last week. The space is serene, peaceful, and quiet, and you can’t beat the pano views of the golf course, Glorietta Bay, and the iconic San Diego Bay Bridge.
The booths are cozy and wide, and the decor—complete with hanging golf clubs—pays homage to its surroundings. There’s also a chill outdoor seating area overlooking the golf course with fire pits.
For the time being, according to our waiter, they are just serving dinner in the main dining room, and will continue to serve brunch and happy hour in the other part of the restaurant. But let’s get down to the good stuff…the food! The dinner menu is creative and enticing, not the usual fare here!
I was thrilled to see grilled Spanish octopus on the menu, with adobo, spicey tomato sauce, shoshito peppers and flava beans. It was right up my alley…not shy with the spice, perfectly cooked and delicious down to the last bite.
We also ordered the burrata with grilled focaccia, blackberry jalapeno jam, toasted pistachio greens and extra virgin olive oil. It was as good as it sounds…insanely tasty, creamy and both sweet and savory.
Next up was the arugula crispy goat salad with SWEET GOAT CHEESE CROQUETTES (yeah, I said it) and sungold tomato, apple, and fig vinegarette. Again, perfection. The goat cheese croquettes melt in your mouth and pair perfectly with the arugula.
Last was the bone-in rib with pinot noir reduction, potatoes au gratin and roasted veggies. The meat was cooked perfectly and flaked off with the gentlest nudge of a fork. Next time I order this, I will ask for more of the wine sauce, it was delicious.
Speaking of sauce, we ordered a bottle of Chilean Cabernet. It was only $23 and it was quite tasty! They didn’t have a kids menu yet (the waiter said it’s coming soon) and so they jimmy-rigged the duck mac and cheese into a smaller kid friendly version for each of my daughters. They only charged us $6 each, and it was also yummy! We even had kid leftovers for the next night.
The best part? The bill. With all this food, and a bottle of wine, the total was $103. (Insert happy dance.) I can’t wait to return, and it will be very hard for me not to order the exact same thing!