Columns Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: It takes a PAON to make a village

PAON Managing Partner Steve Barr provides firsthand valuable guidance on food and wine to his many diners at the Carlsbad Village location.

I talk up the city of Carlsbad and especially Carlsbad Village every opportunity I get. It is a beautiful, diversified community, and yes, I live in Carlsbad and will not leave.

Carlsbad Village is the hub of the city, several walking blocks of seaside shops and approximately 40 restaurants offering a world of cuisine.

The district keeps on expanding with a Wednesday Farmers Market on State Street and urban wine bars dotting the landscape.

It is easily a distinguishing landmark for the village. It is PAON (which means peacock in French) Restaurant & Wine Bar.

About eight years ago, Steve Barr was managing the leading restaurant and wine cellar in San Diego, comfortable and content with his place in the hospitality “A” list. Then, by happy accident, he met Carlsbad businessman Mayur Pavagadhi. They developed a partnership to create a wine-driven restaurant in the middle of Carlsbad Village despite being in the height of the great recession.

“It was a leap of faith. We went from how and where do we do this, to yes it will be done and we both wanted to be a part of this restaurant,” Barr said. “We also wanted to be a part of Carlsbad Village and in our search found a new building for PAON. We knew the city wanted to cultivate the district, and our three-story plan was approved.” Barr brought in his longtime executive chef from his previous location, David Gallardo, and in 2010, the first year open, PAON was awarded Best New Restaurant in San Diego.

“Our business model is simple, to provide great service, food and wine and business will come as satisfied diners return and tell their friends about their memorable night at PAON,” Barr revealed.

This smart management style has led the team to two other restaurants and a recently purchased urban winery, also in Carlsbad Village. They are: 83 Degrees, a sports bar with 60 beers on tap; Barrio, a new-style Mexican restaurant; and Witchcreek Winery, with locally branded wines and a small bite restaurant.

At PAON, a superior wine list has more than 1,400 selections and a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence to its credit, thanks in large part to Advanced Sommelier Gino Campbell. Wines by the glass include my selections: 2014 Dr. Loosen Mosel Riesling, 2014 Landmark Chardonnay and a distinguished bottle of Italian wine from the iconic Castello Brolio in Tuscany, the 2013 Chianti Classico. Brolio has been in the hands of the Ricasoli family since the 11th century and is considered to be the godfather of modern day Chianti Classico. In the wine bar, Campbell has plans for some grand wine events, next generation presentations of the blue chip wines of the world. Be sure to contact him for details at (760) 729-7377 or

When you check out the menu creations from Executive Chef Gallardo, consider the beet salad with arugula and goat cheese, and any of the Angus steaks. They are all intensely delicious. For more, go to


Encinitas Rotary Wine & Food Festival

The Rotary Club of Encinitas held their 14th annual Wine & Food Festival at the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course earlier this month.

Rich Houk is the leader of the Encinitas Rotary Wine & Food Festival. He also serves as the auction chair.

This event is amazing in that all members voluntarily participate in the success of this charity fundraiser. Another round of applause goes to the opportunity for each ticket holder to name their favorite charity, where a large percentage of the admission goes to the charity. In the years prior to this one, more than $1 million has been distributed to the beneficiaries.

I had some good years as a Rotarian in Encinitas and know the strong local support the community gives to this major fundraiser. It’s Encinitas at its best! Watch for the 2018 version usually the first weekend in June. Visit


Wine Bytes

The 4th of July is close so here are a couple of events you may want to consider.


  • Marriott Resort and Spa on Coronado Island has the best view of the largest fireworks show on the West Coast, with a BBQ dinner at the resort’s private pier. Buffet classics are on the menu from 7 to 9 p.m. with the event going to 10 p.m. The cost is $80 per adult, $35 for kids 10 and under. RSVP at (619) 522-3150.
  • We Olive on Prospect Street in La Jolla has a great view of the La Jolla Cove Fireworks Show on the 4th from 7 to 10 p.m. Cost is $75 each, with the ticket price applied to wine bar/retail purchases. Details at (858) 551-8250.
  • Capri Blu Restaurant in Rancho Bernardo has a Spanish fine wine dinner at 6 p.m. July 12. Five courses with 5 different brands of wine. The cost is $60. Reservations at (858) 673-5100.



Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading commentators on the web. View his columns at Look for columns then Taste Of Wine. Reach him at