It’s such a pleasure as a writer when a column flows from my mind like conversation with a good friend. And even easier when that content is glowing and I’m excited to describe every little detail of a recent dining experience.
The original Buona Forchetta in South Park has been on the San Diego foodie radar since 2013 and it was not uncommon for North County folks to make the drive down to sample their culinary delights.
I had the pleasure of hosting owner Matteo Cattaneo on Lick the Plate on KPRI when they opened and remember his passion and energy for his endeavor. I also distinctly recall the fabulous meal and the almost universal level of shared enthusiasm from other guests. And while I was saddened to see the Bird House Grill close a few years back, when I noticed that Buona Forchetta was going to occupy that space it made the loss much easier to take.
That seemed like a big tease though as it took almost two years to transform the space and get it open. It was well worth the wait though, but as evidenced by the full houses every night of the week (except Tuesday when they are closed) their loyal local fan base and new devotees are already on it.
The new location at 250 N. Coast Highway 101 is intimate, just 1,100 square feet with a small side patio. In the kitchen, beyond a glass partition, sits the eatery’s now-famous, gold-tiled pizza oven. Their authentic Neapolitan wood-fired pizza requires a special oven and this one is the same as their other locations made with materials capable of handling the high temperatures required to get that perfect crust. To keep their regular customers happy, they have kept the menu in line with the South Park location; all of the favorites are present, along with some additional seafood dishes.
So for those of you who are unfamiliar with Buona Forchetta who may be skeptical about another wood-fired Italian joint opening in an area crowded with them … well, this one is different. Besides the fact that I would be happy eating everything on the menu, (except I’m not about to ask for their gluten-free pizza crust, that just seems wrong) there is a fun energy to the place. The staff is prompt and friendly and as I mentioned about my South Park experience, you can sense that patrons are really enjoying their experience.
We started with the Artichoke and Polpettine appetizers that worked very nicely together. Polpettine is a mini meatball known as somewhat of an Italian street food made of beef and pork, tomato sauce and Parmesan. They were both simple yet a very satisfying way to start the meal.
For my entrée I went with a beautiful bone-in Veal Chop Milanese that was breadcrumb crusted and covered in greens. It was heavenly. My companion had the seafood risotto that was loaded with shrimp, clams and mussels and was perfect as well.
I came back the next day to interview manager Giuseppe Annunziata for Lick the Plate on The Mighty 1090 and stuck around for a lunch of one of their delightful salads. The Rustica has mixed greens, prosciutto di parma, artichokes and gaeta olives and was one of those perfect salads that satisfies but does not weigh you down. Yes, Buona Forchetta is open for lunch as well and that might be your best time to give it a try without a wait as they only take reservations for tables of six or more.
It should go without saying that the pizzas are the stars here and they have a lot of options to choose from. The pasta menu is set up so you pick your type of pasta and a sauce to go with it along with the traditional ravioli, lasagna, risotto and gnocchi.
There is a nice selection of wines by the glass and bottle along with a full bar and some fun cocktails including my favorite the Italian Drop with Russian Standard, Limoncello and lemon juice.
Dessert includes house-made Gelato, Tiramisu, Delizia Di Bosco, Cannoli, Chocolate Mouse and special surprises from Nonna when she is in the kitchen. So yeah, I really like this place and it will make my annual list of new favorites on the North County dining scene
Buona Forchetta is located at 250 N. Coast Highway 101 and is open from noon to 3 p.m. for lunch and starting at 4:30 for dinner, every day except Tuesdays. More at www.buonaforchettanc.com