By Will Parson
Cucina Urbana’s neighborhood feel could very well be the result of the entire neighborhood showing up for dinner on any given night. Luckily the spacious interior is better described as lively, not crowded, even if it is almost always well populated. If anything, it is primed to please large amounts of people — many of them at the same time.
One thing to consider is that if you are set on dining at 7 p.m., you should plan a few weeks ahead. La Jollans Tony and Margaret Acampora, for example, visit twice a month and know full well when to secure a table.
“This is not a gourmet restaurant, but it’s very good and consistent. And you can just tell by the crowd,” said Tony. “This is the only place that we’re aware of in San Diego where you need to call a month in advance for reservations. It reminds me of being home in New York City.”
If you’re flexible, though, then Cucina Urbana can flex as well and find space for you even if you just walk in. If the Acamporas haven’t made a reservation and don’t find a last-minute opening, Margaret points out that they’ve also enjoyed dining at a community table.
“And it was fun. You get to know the other people who are eating in the restaurant.”
The menu at Cucina Urbana is just as sprawling as the restaurant itself, so there’s a strong chance that you’ll not only find a seat but something to your tastes on the menu. If you don’t want to overdo it, you might do well treating appetizers like the Polenta, or salads like the Burrata + Prosciutto Caprese, as culinary destinations in and of themselves.
Or you can go all out and have them both in conjunction with the Pan Seared Atlantic Cod and a Blood Orange + Ricotta Cheese Fregolata for dessert. Perhaps the best deal comes on Thrifty Thursdays, when all pizzas are half price, putting them in the $6-$7.50 range.
If you’re careful, you don’t have to shell out for a good experience at Cucina Urbana. But then again, much about this restaurant — from the sizeable bar, open floor plan and high ceilings to its impressive menu and wine list — says go big or go home. Whether or not you resist the temptation is up to you.
505 Laurel Street, San Diego
Bustling, Melting Pot, Hangout
Pan Seared Atlantic Cod
11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 5-9 p.m. Sunday and Monday; 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday (10:30 to midnight for pizza only)
5-7 p.m. daily
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com, click On The Menu. This week: Cucina Urbana’s Risotto Carbonara.