Walking into Solare Ristorante whisks you away to a plush wine cellar that you might find in some small Southern Italian village. The first glimpse inside this restaurant shows off the 2,000 bottles of wine available for customers. The heavily draped windows and rich teak wood provided a warm and rich Old World atmosphere. San Diego Restaurant Week had brought me here, and I knew we were in for a treat. Solare Ristorante is located at 2820 Roosevelt in Point Loma at Liberty Station, a great location to walk off all the calories afterwards.
Solare, a San Diego Magazine’s Best Restaurants Winner 2015, is family owned and managed by Randy Smerik. Chef Accursio Lota` prepares both Southern Italian and Sicilian food that is locally sourced with hormone-free meat and many organic items.
We first took a tour of Solare. A very special glass-enclosed room called the Wine Room has a table for four and is surrounded by the large collection of wines available. This room would be the perfect romantic setting for a special evening.
If you are looking for a larger room that can accommodate up to 20 people, the Prana Room offers privacy for you and your guests for a rehearsal dinner, corporate event, or celebration.
Another favorite spot in the restaurant is the Chef’s Window available to just a few for a set course tasting menu the chef prepares at a whim while you watch each dish being prepared.
One very interesting dinner at Solare is their Sardinian Suckling Pig Feast served family style. In addition, the Executive Chef, Accursio Lota’ provides a tasting menu consisting of a four, six, or nine-course dinner. Because Solare has such an extensive wine list, the restaurant has wine tasting events throughout the year. All of these wonderful events should be reserved ahead of time.
Our menu this evening consisted of a 3-course tasting dinner. The first course was the Antipasti. When I saw the Frittura di Pesce all’Italiana, I was hooked because I love seafood. The plate was loaded with lightly fried calamari and wild shrimp and was accompanied with seasonal vegetables with an herb salsa verde emulsion. My partner selected the Tortino al Grana e Funghi, a Grana Padano (a hard cheese similar to Parmigiano Reggiano) soufflé, served with sautéed oyster mushrooms and 15-year old Aceto Balsamico de Modena. The lightness of the soufflé provided a perfect base for the mustiness of the mushrooms and tartness of the balsamic vinegar.
Because there are over 30 wines by the glass available on the menu, we were able to select a different glass of wine for each course. We sampled two whites, the Villa Tavernango Campo Blanco Pinot Grigio with its dry pear and citrus flavors and minerality, and the San Felice Tenuta Perolla Vermentino and Sauvignon blend with tastes of green apple and lime. Both paired perfectly with our two appetizers.
On to the Second Course consisting of a wide selection of items such as a linguine or a pork chop or beef filet medallions. Since the pasta is made fresh daily by the Chitarra instrument that our chef so graciously showed us earlier, my choice was Linguine alla Gricia, an ancient version of the carbonara (the lost carbonara), house made linguine, sautéed with house-cured pancetta, carmelized onion, Pecorino Romano, and course black pepper. The linguine tasted remarkably fresh and light and was contrasted nicely by the saltiness of the pancetta and the sweetness of the carmelized onions. My partner chose Medaglioni di Manzo, Marsala e Zucchero, Angus beef filet medallions served with crispy polenta, roasted winter vegetable, brown sugar rub, balsamic prickled Cipollini (onion) and Marsala and dry figs infusion.
A delicious red wine, a 2009 Traviglini-Gattinara from Piemonte greeted us with a wonderful nose of red cherries and a taste of smooth tannins along with cherries and cinnamon. Luscious with both the beef and the pancetta dishes.
Time for Dolce. The dessert choice of the evening for us was the cannelloni. Beautiful and a rich creaminess made us smile with delight.
Tommy, the mixologist at Solare creates another interesting dessert that piqued our interest, the Solare Flip consisting of a frothy creamy chocolate with hints of vanilla and hazelnut made of vanilla vodka, crème de cacao, LBV port, black walnut liqueur, and nutmeg. Unfortunately, we had no room for a second dessert and will have to try this next time.
Prego, prego! In Italian, the word prego can be used for almost anything. This time I’m using it to describe a wonderful meal. So much deliciousness in one sophisticated restaurant! Restaurant Week provided the perfect opportunity to try out a new restaurant, and we will be lured back for another authentic Italian meal.
Solare is at 2820 Roosevelt Rd, San Diego