SANTALUZ — It’s safe to say that Rosina Gangale lives and breathes Italian food.
Her resume includes opening the now-closed When in Rome restaurant in Leucadia with her brother nearly three decades ago, operating Salvatore’s Cucina Italiana in San Diego and a stint serving authentic pasta in Sun Valley, Idaho.
These days, she runs Rosina’s Italian Restaurant in Oceanside. And now she’s poised to open another Rosina’s at the spot where the French restaurant Cavaillon used to be.
“We are very, very proud of Italian food; we want to share that,” Gangale said.
Her love of food can be traced to her family. Gangale, who hails from southern Italy, came to the U.S. with her parents and siblings when she was 4 years old. Gangale recalled that her mom “was an excellent cook.” But her mom didn’t do it alone; the entire family pitched in during meals.
“I naturally picked up all these cooking skills from a very young age just by being around my family,” Gangale said.
“Amazing food connected us,” Gangale added. “We were taught that it’s very important to sit down and have dinner together as a whole family. That stuck with me.”
Cooking skills are one part of the equation for a successful restaurant. But it also takes business savy, which Gangale got from her dad.
“He taught us to be entrepreneurs,” Gangale said, adding that her family has opened restaurants throughout San Diego and the U.S.
Gangale said she strives for dishes that would actually be served in Italy. That means preparing vodka and light tomato sauces with simple ingredients, and also offering up plenty of fish, pork and vegetables on the menu. Most of all, Gangale said the seasoning she uses is meant to accentuate dishes, not overpower them.
It seems Gangale’s sons, Giancarlo and Gianfranco, have the same appreciation for Italian food. They’re chefs at Rosina’s in Oceanside. And they both said they’re looking forward to opening and cooking at the new location in Santaluz, even though long days are ahead.
“I know it’s going to be crazy… but I’m still excited,” Giancarlo said.
With a family of serial restaurateurs, Giancarlo explained that he and his brother grew up in the business. They were bus boys and waiters in their family’s various restaurants as teenagers, and then later became chefs.
“Food is in our blood you could say,” Giancarlo said.
The space, which hosted Cavaillon for six years, is located at the edge of a fairly secluded neighborhood. Gangale noted some believe this could pose a challenge, because those unfamiliar to the area might not associate it with dining.
But Gangale is quick to point out that Rosina’s in Oceanside doesn’t exactly stand on prime territory.
“Many consider us a hidden gem or destination,” Gangale said. “We’re still doing well.”
“Plus, we have a great neighborhood surrounding us at the new location,” Gangale said.
When asked if more Rosina’s are a possibility down the line, Gangale said with a laugh: “I only have two sons, so probably not.”
Gangale said the new Rosina’s will hold a soft opening early next week. For reservations, call (858) 759-4300. A grand opening is slated for next month.