Giuseppe Ciuffa, center, owner of Candor in La Jolla Village, is flanked by GM Jad El Khoury and waiter Stefano Carravieri. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Columns Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Candor is the newest intimate restaurant in La Jolla

Giuseppe Ciuffa had to make a difficult decision in 1994. The easygoing Italian from Cosi, outside of Rome, needed a break from his family’s successful Italian farm where he cooked for long hours, dealing with butchers, cheese mongers, vintners and fishermen.

Since he was a kid, he’d always dreamed of opening an eatery. He had heard of San Diego and its resemblance to the coastal cities of Italy. Like most visitors to our paradise, he decided to put down roots, and four years later, opened a little café in La Jolla Village called Come On In Café. It flourished and became a staple for the La Jolla social scene.  It was also a steppingstone for other cozy, fresh food locations dotting San Diego including two in Balboa Park. 

Come On In was sold in 2003 to make way for Ciuffa’s Fine Catering empire, which currently services over 300 events annually including weddings, high-profile charity galas, VIP social gatherings, corporate functions, multi day conferences and sporting events. Always with an eye for the dramatic in the food and wine business, Ciuffa has come full circle and re-purchased his original restaurant location, now called Candor. He could now apply his Italian roots for the freshness and high quality of farms, vineyards, local cheese and fish and make everything “in-house.” Another important element in play is the extensive wine bar. On the wine menu, “I definitely play favorites with producers from Italy, France and Spain,” he said. When pressed a bit about “local” he admitted, “I do have some upscale California, Oregon and Washington wines.” Our choices with our meal included Capolemole Cori Bianco Italy (from Giuseppe’s hometown vineyard), Laird Family Chardonnay from Sonoma and Turley Juvenile Zinfandel from Paso Robles.

Dinners included hot and crispy tomato bread, grilled Nectarine & Burrata and Scottish Salmon with quinoa, carrots and baby leeks.

Lunch and dinner are served daily with a weekend brunch Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit at dinecandor.com.

Newport Beach Wine & Food is Oct. 5-6

Elegance is the best way to describe the breathtaking Newport Wine & Food, coming with a multitude of very desirable events, topped by the Grand Tastings, Sat. Oct. 5 and Sun. Oct. 6, with VIP entrances at 2 p.m., at the Newport Beach Civic Center. It includes award-winning chefs, restaurant food sampling and over 250 wines.

Live cooking demos will be on stage from chefs like Casey Thompson, Richard Blais, Brooke Williamson and Shirley Chung. Wineries participating in events throughout the weekend include world-class vintners like Opus One, JUSTIN, Chateau Montelena, Booker, Bernardus, Allegretto and many more.

The Diamond Club Lounge is a premium experience with limited availability and includes early VIP entrance, caviar tasting, meet and greet with master sommeliers, celebrity chefs and exclusive wine tastings. Honestly, there is nothing quite like the Newport Beach Wine & Food. See all the opportunities with pricing at newportwineandfood.com.

Wine Bytes

• Seasalt in Del Mar has added the evening of Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. for another Inglenook Vineyard & Francis Ford Coppola wine dinner. Price is $70 to RSVP your seat. You will have the great pleasure of tasting the Director’s cut Cinema Red Blend from the Coppola winery and the premium Cabernet Sauvignon from Inglenook along with a brilliantly paired five-course dinner. Call (858) 755-7100.

• The annual WineSellar & Brasserie Pinot Noir World Tasting will happen Sat. Sept. 28 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., on Waples Street in Sorrento Valley San Diego. From Burgundy France to Santa Barbara, it’s a salute to Pinot. Cost is $35. Call today for an RSVP at (858) 450-9557.

• The 24th annual Encinitas Oktoberfest is Sunday Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mountain Vista Drive and El Camino Real, presented by the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce.  Festivities include Alpine singers and dancers, carnival rides and an authentic German band. A craft beer garden will be pouring beer and wine with German food available under the big tent. For details call the chamber at (760) 753-6041.

• Grgich Hills Estate is planning a tasting of its best varietals at Pavillions market in Carmel Valley, San Diego Fri. Oct. 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. You’ll be tasting the latest Sauvignon Blanc, Estate Chardonnay, a big award winner, and the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. This tasting is free with no reservation required.

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