Mamma Mia! Park Yourself at Garage Buona Forchetta for Legendary Italian Eats

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.

Well done, Buona Forchetta!


Fresh on the Scene: The Salsa Chick!

Imagine my delight when Coronado local Jennifer Jarriel, the Salsa Chick, brought me a jar of her homemade salsa. See, I’m from Texas, y’all, and you could say I’m pretty hot for salsa.

I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I am newly-obsessed. Her salsa is flavorful and tasty, with a kick. Not a burning-your-lips-off and cough spastically kind-of-kick, but it’s not for the spice adversed. And, if you haven’t guessed already, I am NOT spice adversed. (Besides, what’s the point of eating salsa without a little bit of spice?)

I brought the salsa to Coronado Yacht Club on Friday and mowed it down with some tortilla chips. Fabulous!

Jennifer’s salsa recipe is homegrown, in fact she gets her salsa-making inspo from her mom.

“My mom is an amazing cook,” says Jennifer. “She gave me the recipe for the salsa.”

Selling salsa is a relatively new endeavor for Jennifer; she started selling it in December of last year.

“At first, it got my mind off my husband’s deployment,” says Jennifer. “Once I started getting more and more positive feedback, I decided to sell it.”

Save that jar! Refills are only $5.

A pint of the Salsa Chick Salsa is $8, but keep the jar, because a refill is only $5. (Local Danielle Kingston Fry designed that plucky and ever-so-instagramable label.)

“So far I’ve received incredible feedback,” says Jennifer. ”It’s almost overwhelming. I am so thankful people are liking it so much.”

Best part? A percentage of each sale goes to a non-profit.

”I take 15% of what I made off the top and donate it to a street ministry back home in Georgia,” says Jennifer. “I’ve known the lady that started it my whole life.  She helps get homeless families off the street, helps find the parents jobs, clothes them, feeds them.  She’s 100% privately funded so I figure if God’s blessing me by the salsa sales I will give back & hope to help and bless others.”

If that’s not awesome sauce, I don’t know what is. Follow the Salsa Chick on Facebook, and place and order by calling or texting at 770-633-7209. Jennifer accepts Venmo payments also.

When Jennifer’s not busy making salsa, she’s riding her bike, hanging out at the beach, or dining at Clayton’s, or simply enjoying the small-town charm of the island.

“I absolutely love the small town feel of Coronado,” says Jennifer. “I love the hometown businesses, and how the community rallies around the home crowd.”

Thanks for reading, and I hope you love the salsa as much as I do!


Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Local Performers; “Coronado’s Talent” Promises All the Feels!

Who knew Coronado was home to so many talented performers? This marks the fourth year that Alan Kinzel will produce “Coronado’s Talent,” and it’s shaping up to be bigger and better than ever. The 2020 lineup includes a girl who has played a young J.Lo on a recent tour video, a sibling team slated for America’s Got Talent, a member of the Blues Hall of Fame, an award-winning dance team, a singer from a Disney Parade in China, and even a foot juggler!

The best part? One of them could be your next-door neighbor.

“We are thrilled to provide an opportunity for people in the community to shine with their talents,” says Alan. “When you see your neighbor—who you had no idea could perform at such a high level—and the entire community is there cheering them on, it’s quite special.”

Dancers Ellis Quesada and Dom Haulsey will compete in this year’s show. Ellis was recently featured a young J.Lo in a tour video.

Coronado’s Talent–which is generously underwritten by Donna Salof and benefits Coronado Schools Foundation (CSF) and Coronado School of the Arts (COSA)–explodes onto the scene on Saturday, February 22, 7pm at Coronado High School. This event is an annual sell-out, so be sure to buy your tickets at before they’re gone.

Although guests will love the close-knit community spirit, this is no small-town production.  This year will debut a 20 by 15-foot LED wall with lights to create an electrifying concert experience. In addition, Finest City Entertainment is producing online streaming for local cable and internet, and there will be a live feed in the theatre for close ups of all the acts.

The award-winning H2A dance team will compete.

Guests will also enjoy tasty bites from food trucks with Buona Forchetta and Golden State Dogs beginning at 5pm. (Again, all proceeds benefit CSF and COSA.) Even if you’re not able to make the show, everyone is invited to enjoy some warm nosh from the food trucks!

“Also new this year, we’re enjoy a visit from the world-famous San Diego Chicken,” says Alan. “And we’re debuting a meaningful song about Coronado, an original collaboration with musician Trish Naval. If you live here, you will love this song as it touches on all things that make our community special.”

2020 judges include Mayor Richard Bailey, general managers from the Loews and Hotel Del, award-winning journalist Jane Mitchell, Dan Boyle—who runs Coronado Training Center, and Alan’s wife—teacher Lisa Kinzel.

Sugar Baby and the Honey Blues Band.

Star performances aside, for Alan and Lisa, the show is all about giving back to the community.

“This show is so meaningful because it allows us to make a significant contribution to local charities,” says Alan. “Our beneficiary has been Coronado Schools Foundation (CSF) since the beginning as they have had such a positive impact on our family.”

But more than that, the show delivers on its promise of sharing what makes Coronado so special…community pride.

“There are so many talented people of all ages here that may or may not perform on a regular basis, but they love to perform and share their talents,” says Alan. “It’s such a diverse gathering of the community where everyone comes to discover, cheer, and walk away feeling uplifted and proud to be a Coronado resident.”

Alan with contestant Theresa Kelly-Kimble. Photo by Chris Kelly.

Tickets start at $25 and go up to $75 for VIP tickets, which includes a reception from 5-7pm at Spreckels Center. VIP guests will enjoy food and drinks from Nicky Rottens, Bouna Forchetta, Gelato Paradiso and a souvenir red carpet photo by Bill Sandke. VIP guests will also receive a 3-month training membership with Coronado Training Center, and a visit from the world famous San Diego Chicken, and live music from Jennifer Franks. Buy tickets here. 

See you at the show!



Flip Flops, Friends and Frozen Drinks: Surf’s Up at the Boardwalk Beach Club!

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!

Cheers, until next time!

I Tried It: The New Eyelash Perm!

I was at happy hour a few weeks ago with some girlfriends when I noticed my friend’s lashes. They were super full and dark and curled. 

“Did you get lash extensions?” I asked her. “Your lashes look fabulous.”

“Nope,” she said. “I just got them permed and tinted. I’m not even wearing mascara.”

What? I had to find out more. Lucky for me, my friend Liz Bruhin of Lizzy B’s Skin and Lash was already an expert.

Turns out it’s called a “Lash Lift.” Liz performs the service where you actually get your lashes tinted, then permed to curl upwards, and treated with Keratin to make them stronger. I was intrigued, and immediately booked my appointment.

I showed up at her treatment room on First and C Avenue ready to go.

“The entire process only takes about 40 minutes,” Liz explained. “It should last 6-8 weeks depending on your lash cycle and how your lashes grow. When you notice them start to straighten out, then you’ll know it’s time to get it done again.”

Cool! So what exactly does the treatment entail? Liz tints your lashes darker, then actually perms them with perm solution with tiny little rods, then applies a Keratin treatment to strengthen and condition the lashes. But would they really look that awesome?

“It’s great for moms who are busy that want to look put-together, but don’t want to throw makeup on,” says Liz. “It’s a life saver.”

Hold it. So I wouldn’t even need mascara? I was doubtful. I’m a major makeup person. I rarely emerge barefaced, and I never, ever skip mascara.

Here I am before, minimal mascara.
Another before.

“You really shouldn’t need it,” Liz says. “You can just throw on some lipgloss and you’re good.” I guess we would see!

Well, let’s get started! Liz applied a cooling eye pad with collagen underneath my eyes, and also it keeps the lower lashes from getting caught up in the perming treatment.

Liz tinted my lashes, and then measured to see which size rods to use with the perming solution. (Yes, there are actually little mini rods! And the perming solution has the same smell you love and remember from the 80s.)

And it’s important to get your lashes done with the right products. Some places use products with super burly ingredients.

“Not all lash lift products are considered the same, just like any sort of facial products or makeup,” says Liz.  “A lot of this stuff comes from overseas and is made with super toxic ingredients. So make sure you ask. I use products from a company in Utah, so it’s made here in the U.S. so they have to be more compliant.” 

Great point! You don’t want to mess around with toxic chemicals by your eyeballs.

When she applied the perm solution, it took me right back to Texas in 1987. At this point, my eyes were actually clipped shut. It was totally comfortable, but I could smell the fumes and my eyes got a little irritated. When she gave me a small fan it felt a lot better.

“I love this treatment because it doesn’t damage your lashes at all. Because of the Keratin treatment, it actually strengthens it,” says Liz. “It’s not like lash extensions where you are adding the weight of a lash to your own eyelash, which can actually cause a lot of damage.”

Liz explained that people who do lash extensions for long periods of time wind up with barely any lashes left. Turns out the lashes can actually break. 

“Lash extensions look great for a while, until your natural lashes start to fall out,” says Liz. “Your natural lashes actually atrophy from the weight of the lash being put onto it. If you do it a couple of times here and there, it’s no big deal, and I still do those treatments. But you don’t want to do it on a regular basis.”

Turns out this treatment has gotten really popular over the last two years. Liz thinks this is because the extensions are so damaging, and the upkeep and expense is huge. 

Finally, Liz removes the perm solution and I can open my eyes again. And hello! My lashes look like I just curled them with an eyelash curler, but a lot better. They are also significantly darker. 

Liz told me to not get my lashes wet until the next morning, and to avoid using any sort of eye makeup remover with oil in it. And that’s it! I could continue to use Lash Boost (which I love) and basically go about my life as normal.

Of course I couldn’t resist applying a coat of mascara—and BAM—my lashes looked amazing. I noticed over the next few days I just looked more awake and bright-eyed when I woke up, and didn’t really feel like I needed the mascara as much. One time I even just put on a lipgloss and emerged with no makeup. (This almost never happens.) 

So although I’m still using a bit of mascara, I definitely don’t need it as much, and my lashes are looking pretty radical.

Would I do this treatment again? Absolutely. Knowing that I am actually strengthening my lashes while getting a super rad lift, curl, and darker lashes is pretty amazing. 

But what’s the pricing like? For the lash lift, tinting and Keratin treatment, it’s $135. Compared to getting lash extensions (which is super time consuming as well) I think the price is pretty good. I will definitely be back!

I love that I look more awake and festive with minimal makeup; I love that the treatment is NON-DAMAGING and STRENGTHENING; and I love that it requires no post-care.

Thinking of boosting your lashes? Contact Liz Bruhin at 619-777-0999. Mention the Island Girl discount for $15 off.