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The Bellows opens in San Marcos

Prosciutto, Gorgonzola and dried plum flatbread.
Prosciutto, Gorgonzola and dried plum flatbread.
Don Ayres

Churchill’s pub in San Marcos is a landmark in the San Diego craft beer scene. Sure, 50 taps of quality craft beer go a long way, but great beer is nothing without great food. When Derezin announced his plans to open a second San Marcos restaurant, curiosity piqued among his loyal regulars about what it would be. Derezin answered their questions on Friday when he opened the doors to his new restaurant, The Bellows.

Tucked into the Campus Pointe II shopping center next to California State University, San Marcos, The Bellows is the more-refined big brother to Churchill’s Pub. While you may walk into Churchill’s and hear a rock anthem coming through the sound system, you’re more likely to hear Miles Davis’ “Milestones” playing softly in the background at The Bellows. This is upscale dining done the Ivan Derezin way.

The first thing you notice when you walk through the glass door is the slightly smoky aroma from the wood-burning oven. The high ceilings and large glass windows give the space a wide-open feel, and the décor gives you the feeling that your meal is being hand-forged by skilled artisans. With Executive Chef Schuyler Schultz creating the menu, that’s not far from the truth.

Eight different flatbreads make up the centerpiece of the menu, and come out of the wood-burning oven with toppings that run the gourmet gamut. The prosciutto, Gorgonzola and dried plum flatbread provides a delightful blend of sweet and savory. Other flatbreads feature house-made sausage, Fresno chili peppers, and yes, anchovies. They all arrive on a silver platter with a the telltale flavor that can only come from a wood-fired oven. Aside from flatbreads, the menu has a variety of critters from land and sea, salads, charcuterie and house-made pickles.

On the beverage side of things, The Bellows places an emphasis on wine and spirits. The well-stocked bar produces classic cocktails as well as some originals. Derezin would never forget about craft beer, and there’s a 20-tap system with custom blown-glass handles pouring beers from every corner of the globe.

Friday’s “super-soft opening” gives the staff of The Bellows a few weeks to iron out the kinks before a larger grand opening. Despite it being a mildly-advertised soft opening, plenty of people got the news, and waits for tables started as early as 5:30 p.m. Even while they’re ironing out the kinks, The Bellows is definitely worth checking out.