OCEANSIDE — Where a printing press once whirred with life in the building at 401 Seagaze Drive, a kitchen now simmers with pasta, woodfired pizza and other Italian cuisine.
The new Blade 1936 restaurant brings life to a historic building that once housed The Blade-Tribune. The restaurant pays homage to the former Oceanside newspaper, which occupied the space between 1936 and the 1960s, both in name and decor.
The historical integrity of the building has been maintained with some returns to its original structure. John Carlo Ferraiuolo, one of Blade 1936’s partners who also serves as general manager and pizza chef, said that the building was in bad shape when they found it.
At some point one of the original windows was taken out to be made into a door but the restaurant reinstalled the window. The Blade-Tribune’s original sign was also re-exposed, resting right above the new awning that displays the restaurant’s name.
The building itself was designed and framed by famous San Diego architect Irving Gill in 1936. It also happened to be one of his last projects before his death.
While the new renovations preserve the building’s history, the space inside adds rustic, wood and steel elements. Many of the walls are lined with old newspaper clippings from various newspapers around the world, including Oceanside newspapers dating all the way back to the 1930s.
“We wanted to bring the building back to life as a restaurant but also keep the newspaper alive as well,” Ferraiuolo said.
The menus, designed by partner and Chef Mario Cassineri, look like old newspapers while featuring seasonal menus and daily specials using both locally sourced and imported Italian ingredients. Guests to the restaurant have their choice of classic Italian dishes, Napoli-style woodfired pizzas, desserts, cocktails, wine and beer.
Cassineri pointed out that the restaurant pairs an old building with old cuisine traditions from Italy.
“We’re putting history together,” Cassineri said.
The restaurant has also installed a custom-made Stefano Ferrara pizza brick from Italy.
While Cassineri focuses on most of the Italian cuisine, Ferraiuolo specializes in woodfired pizza.
“I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, so that’s 31 years in the making,” he said. “It’s something I love to do.”
The restaurant was supposed to open last year, according to Ferraiuolo, but the date was pushed back after it took more time to earthquake-proof the building and an eight-month delay by San Diego Gas & Electric to get the gas and electric turned on.
Blade 1936 officially opened on Sept. 23 and has had a great response from the community so far, according to Ferraiuolo and Cassineri, with support from other local businesses and by customers.
“In just two weeks we’ve seen so many familiar faces come back,” Ferraiuolo said.
The restaurant currently has a maximum capacity of 167 people. The two operating partners hope to open patio seating along the restaurant’s side along South Tremont Street.
Next year, the partners plan to open rooftop seating with an ocean view.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son