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Taste of Wine

Wine Spectator’s best restaurant awards

The Addison at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar has been on the AAA Five Diamond list since 2008.
Courtesy photoTidal Executive Chef Amy DiBiase develops an Italian-style custom dish, Ricotta Gnudi, only found at Tidal.  Try it with a good Pinot Noir. Photo by Frank Mangio


The current issue of Wine Spectator, the leading wine publication in the world, has its annual restaurant awards section, based on the quality of the wine list, presentation and type of cuisine.

A total of 3,748 restaurants worldwide were named to this elite group, including all 50 U.S. states. Focusing in on San Diego County, there were 48 dining locations that were spotlighted for their special wine programs and quality entrées.

It would take the entire column to list all, so I will list the 18 in North San Diego County — this column’s home base.

Cheers to ADDISON at the Grand Del Mar and wine Director Elizabeth Huettinger for its Grand Award, the highest achievement for a restaurant from Wine Spectator.  The wine list features rare Burgundy and Bordeauxvintages from France and greats from Piedmont Italy. 34,000 bottles are available.  This is their fifth year for this pinnacle achievement.  Here are the rest of the top restaurants:

Amaya the Grand Del Mar, Argyle Steakhouse Aviara, The Barrel Room Rancho Bernardo, Bistro West Carlsbad, Del Mar Rendevous Del Mar, Firefly Encinitas, Firenze Trattoria Encinitas, Il Fornaio Del Mar, Mille Fleurs Rancho Santa Fe, Morada Rancho Santa Fe, Pamplemousse Del Mar, Paon Carlsbad, Sbicca Del Mar, Twenty/20 Carlsbad, Veladora Rancho Santa Fe, Vivace Aviara and West Steak & Seafood Carlsbad,

San Diego’s Waterfront Resort Opens Tidal

Paradise Point is a 44-acre island getaway with five swimming pools, lagoons, lush tropical gardens and a new “craft and catch” beach house, bar and restaurant.

Tidal is the airy, waterfront place to be, attracting local Jimmy Buffett types as well as visitors from the heartland, gazing at the 180-degree views of Mission Bay. Its Executive Chef is superwoman Amy DiBiase.

The catch part is a collection of seafood including salmon, halibut, crab and scallops. The craft side is the seeming unending list of craft cheese selections along with craft beer and cocktails, topped by the “Brittle Star Sangria.” What’s that you say?

A peek inside this cocktail finds:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Tuaca, muddled citrus, cinnamon-vanilla reduction and club soda. Definitely crafted.

Amy DiBiase is the executive chef and general manger of Tidal, one of the very few chefs entrusted with running the whole operation.  “I’ve been working as chef for 13 years in San Diego.  I like to do fresh, creative, simply-put-together menu items as seasonal as possible,” she said.  “That’s what we mean by our craft and catch phrase.  Food, without a lot of additives to distort the natural flavors of the entrees.”

Case in point would be the dish that she has developed over the years, Riccota Gnudi, with roasted eggplant, zucchini, tomato, braised lamb and black olive.  “We use three types of cheeses packed into seminola casings like a ravioli, then age it, creating a shell like a gnocchi.  The dish is done peasant-style like a stew. Later menus will have lobster replacing the lamb. Tidal’s emphasis is on seafood with a Mediterranean style.  Its by-the-glass wines are world-class with a similar selection by the bottle, and the panoramic water view is at no extra cost.  To see more and RSVP, visit

Wine Bytes

Jazz Fridays are in full swing at Keyways Winery in Temecula every Friday during the summer, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Tasting Room.  See and hear nationally known guitarist Steve Oliver;  $10 cover charge.  Details at (951) 302-7888.

Port and Cigar Tastings are on tap at the Barrel Room in Rancho Bernardo Aug. 3 at 2 p.m.; $50. RSVP at (858) 673-7512. Five tastes with artisan meats and cheeses.

Capri Blu in Rancho Bernardo is planning an Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Wine Dinner Aug 6 at 6 p.m. with guest speaker, California Sales Manager Kris Jones;  $55. Call (858) 673-5100 for a seat.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.  View and link up with his column at www.tasteof  Reach him at