Cucina Sorella – the “sister” restaurant

| September 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

To achieve success, a company needs good leadership. After all, a company is really a collection of people working together to achieve a common goal. People need direction, someone at the helm who points to the path and who monitors progress, someone who can even change direction when such a move is necessary.

As a case in point, take the Kensington Grill. Kensington is a lovely part of San Diego, located just south of Highway 8, right off Highway 15. This area, and its neighbor area Talmadge, are favorites of millennials and young executives. Family homes, many full of young children, dot the neighborhoods, punctuated by parks, schools and small restaurants.

Tracy Borkum ran the Kensington Grill for years. Located near a freeway exit, down the block from a movie theater that ran art movies, Kensington Grill offered a sophisticated menu in a comfortable “neighborhood” setting.

But Borkum had changed as a restaraunteer. Borkum founded the Urban Kitchen Group and opened restaurants in San Diego and Orange County to offer Italian cuisine that is graced by fresh, seasonal California bounty. Adding to the quality of flavors,

Borkum’s restaurant interiors are designed for interest, comfort and elegance. The company has gone into catering services, with menus that go beyond Italian cuisine to take on an “international” list of food choices. And, to tie it all together, she’s opened shops in some of her restaurants to sell there and online artwork, furniture, gift cards and an assortment of other items that are beautiful and unique.

Over a few years, Borkum developed location in Bankers Hill and Del Mar. She expanded to Irvine and Newport Beach. Some of her restaurants included the word “enoteca” in their names, showing an emphasis on wine as well as cuisine. She brought in top chefs to her locations to make sure that her menu choices were terrific.
And then there was the Kensington Grill. What to do? As a leader, she knew what to do —- change it.

So Borkum redeveloped the location, literally changing it completely both externally and internally, to reopen last May as Cucina Sorella. She brought in Chef Daniel Wolinsky to run the kitchen. As part of his extensive international background, Chef Wolinsky worked in a three Michelin star restaurant in Modena Italy.

An outdoor patio runs along the length of the outside of the location for comfortable dining on cool evenings. The interior is seemingly divided into three sections. A “store” is in place near the cash registers on one side. The main dining area occupies the center. A feature wall divides the main dining area from the bar where meals are also served. The décor is homey and quaint.

The word “sorella” means “sister” in Italian. Cucina Sorella is the “sister” restaurant to the ones that preceded it.

The menu, which changes seasonally, is small but select. Dishes are listed that may not be found in competing Italian eateries. Chef Wolinsky likes to play with shapes in creating pasta. His torchio is pasta shaped like the handle of a torch. It comes with seafood sausage, again unique, white corn and buratta. The triangoli are – what else – pasta triangles filled goat cheese, eggplant, fig, and almond served with a brown butter balsamic. Bucatini, like spaghetti but with a hole in the middle, can come with a meatball.

My favorite dish of the evening was the olive pappardelle. The noodles were wide, thick and hearty. The dish came with a lamb shoulder ragu that was meaty and tender, with lots of meat.
One of the most popular side dishes is the potato gnocchi tots, crisp bits of good taste, served with house ketchup.

A more traditional meal might begin with antipasto. Formaggi and salami (cheese and salami) choices are available to whet the appetite. Grilled calamari or grilled Sicilian meatballs (primi) could move the meal along, topped by slow roasted pork shoulder or a whole branzino from the sea.

Desserts include chocolate peanut butter ball, beautifully presented, panna cotta and gelato,

Wine makes everything go better. The wine menu lists vintages from the U.S. and Italy. Among the “reds” the barbera d’ asti is excellent and available by the glass.

Menu and wine prices are moderate, to encourage frequent visits. The cuisine is tasty and satisfying. The restaurant will undoubtedly be very successful. Borkum has done a good leadership job again.

Cocktails are generous in size.

Cocktails are generous in size.

Cucina Sorella opens at 4 p.m. for dinner and is open every day but Monday. It is located at 4055 Adams Avenue, just at the Adams off ramp to highway 15. Be forewarned that parking can be a problem. There is a free small parking lot on the corner and off street parking may be available. On its website, the restaurant suggests to park across the overpass near the public park. Or, it says, take uber.
Whatever way you get there, an evening at Cucina Sorella will be rewarding. Call (619) 281-4014 for information and reservations.

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