With San Diego being the home to an abundance of restaurants, choosing just one to frequent can be difficult. Amongst the many restaurants specilzing in a specific dish, Cucina Urbana draws people in with a creative and casual atmosphere. Cucina Urbana, specializes in creating a modern twist to traditional Italian food accompanied by a rustic setting with tables always occupied. Cucina is the perfect spot for college students and businessmen and women alike to mingle, unwind, and to enjoy all that it has to offer.
The atmosphere at Cucina draws one in, but the food is what keeps people coming back. The majority of the menu consists of appetizers, with a small section for entrees, pastas, and proteins. The vasi that Cucina offers are the most popular appetizers on the menu, but with flavor combinations like artichoke and olive tapenade, Gorgonzola walnut mousse with poached pears, or Burrata cheese with roasted garlic, it is not really a surprise. Each vasi is served with a side of three different breads, sourdough, warm focaccia, and a whole-wheat toast. Simple, elegant and absolutely delicious, this is a dish where it is acceptable and encouraged to play with the food.
Pasta, pasta, and pasta: if at an Italian restaurant it is almost a requirement to order a pasta dish and Cucina certainly does not disappoint. Following the Italian tradition of substantial portions, Cucina offers most pasta dishes in grande size, but a smaller portion is available as well. The lasagna al forno ($16.50) consisting of beef, pork, veal, marinara, and a béchamel sauce (cream and butter sauce), is just like what Italian grandmothers make; it is simple, traditional and needs no modern improvement. The risotto of the day ($12 small/$18 large) is up to the chef’s whim and whenever a chef has creative freedom, good things can happen. Evidence of this was the arugula, beet and goat cheese risotto that he came up with one day; a gorgeous green color, rice cooked to perfection and slight richness of the goat cheese made for an addicting combination that soon left the plate empty.
Too many great sounding options with so little time left the pizza section of the menu untouched as well as the meat section. However, guests raved about the Magherita pizza, peperoni and fennel sausage pizza, and the brick oven roasted branzino. Not to be ignored, the sides dishes are phenomenal as well, especially the cauliflower au gratin, which tastes as sinful as the potato version, but just a tad healthier and the burnt Brussels sprouts with Ivan’s hot sauce.