The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

Italian cuisine is king at Crush

Sangiovese and Barbera are two Italian wine MVP’s on the wine list at the new Crush Italian Restaurant and Wine Lounge on the Coast Highway in Solana Beach.  And why not!  These two varietals are closely matched and vital to anyone’s Italian wine inventory.  Sangiovese is Tuscany’s home wine, and I will have much more to say about this as I just returned from 4 days in this wine country.  Barbera is the home-base grape varietal in the Piedmont area of Italy.  Its taste is similar to the Nebbiolo grape found in Barolo and Barberesco, but without the big price.
Owner John Luciano offers the 2009 Luna di Luna Sangiovese/Merlot 2008 and the Venditti Barbera 2007.  The rest of the lineup includes:  Sparkling wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel.  And Crush is selling these wines direct, something of a clear trend in restaurants these days. Take it with you, or take it to table for dinner without a corkage fee.
“We’ve got another restaurant in Chico and I had been looking for an ideal location for my Italian themed restaurant,” Luciano said.  “We are diversified in our menu.  We offer burgers to seafood, beside our traditional southern style Italian dishes.  There are over 160 bottles of wine to choose from.”
The guy behind the menu this evening was Sous Chef Jesse Elhart, who excited diners with his Tagliatelle Bolognese, an “old school” six-hours-cooked ragu with goia ricotta and herbs.
He also does a lovely “Mom’s Meatballs” dish with tomato sauce, sheepsmilk ricotta and basil in the Primo part of the menu.
On the salad side of the menu, try the Gorganzola chopped plus romaine, croutons, tomato cucumber and Benton’s Bacon.  The Fritto Misto with calamari, lemon,onion & zucchini also drew bravos.
Crush has a happy hour daily from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and nightly from 10 p.m. to midnight to catch the later crowd.  You’ll enjoy $3 drafts, $5 house wines and $7 specialty cocktails.  Live music is enjoyed Wednesday through Saturday starting at 8 p.m.
Crush is a lifestyle restaurant, breaking barriers and having fun with dining.  The phone is (858) 481-2787.  Visit their website at
  Wine Bytes
Wine Styles in Encinitas has a cheese festival Oct. 29 starting at 6 p.m., specially selected wine accompanies.  Call (760) 633-0057 for pricing.
Only 90 Point Wines in the next event at Bacchus Wine Market downtown San Diego Oct. 29 from 2 to 8:30 p.m. Seven wines are poured with low price tags.  $20 pp.  Call (619) 236-0005.
The Wedge, A Cheese, Wine and Brew Festival happens in Downtown Escondido Nov. 5 from 1 to 9 p.m. at Grand and Broadway.  A Street Corner Concert with the “English Beat.”  Enjoy artisan cheese pairings with wine and beer, brew garden, classes, a seasonal market and much more.  Call (760) 745-8877 for ticket information.
The Shores Restaurant in La Jolla presents Niner Winemaker Amanda Cramer and a 5-course dinner by Chef Amy DiBiase Nov. 6 at 6 p.m.  These are extraordinary wines, written up in Taste of Wine on many occasions.  The event is produced by Lisa Redwine, advanced Sommelier. Cost is $55 ea.  RSVP at (858) 456-0600.
Vigilucci’s Restaurant in downtown Carlsbad is planning a Piemonte inspired Dinner with Beni di Batasiolo wines and white truffles Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m.  This amazing dinner is a repeat of a sellout!  Main steak course has shaved white truffle paired with Batasilo Barola Reserve.  $90. cost.  RSVP fast at (760) 434-2500.
Thornton Winery in Temecula Wine Country has its Winemaker Dinner Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.  Winemaker David Vergari presides over a Brandt Beef Tenderloin Filet Dinner at Café Champagne, its 5-star restaurant.  Call for reservations at (951) 688-0099.  $95.