Dominic’s Table coming to former Roppongi spot in La Jolla

After languishing vacant for nearly two years, the restaurant space at 875 Prospect St. that formerly housed Roppongi sushi (whose sign is still above the door since its closure in October 2015), has a new tenant in Dominic’s Table restaurant ... or should we say Dominic’s Table has a new home?

Planning to open in late September or early October, the eatery will be helmed by chef Dominic Tedesco. “I want my guests to truly believe they are having dinner at my home. I want that feeling in the dining room,” Tedesco said. “The menu is about 45 percent Italian cuisine, but we will also have an awesome Mediterranean-influenced raw bar and my favorite comfort foods from around the world.”

There will also be an “international menu” of four to 10 items that changes weekly. “They are dishes from specific regions prepared as authentically as possible. (In other restaurants) I’ve listened to people and what dishes they like,” he said. “We ask them how their grandmothers made these dishes and see if we can incorporate certain changes in how we prepare the dish. … We do a lot of research to get the right ingredients. Ingredients are so important. It doesn’t matter how authentic the recipe, if you don’t use the right ingredients, it’s not going to be the same.”

Tedesco opened his first restaurant at age 21, but said he was “born into the industry.” With two parents and seven brothers from Italy, the family moved to Kentucky, where he was born. “My parents had restaurants as we were growing up ... with eight sons, my parents figured they were already feeding an army, so they might as well feed a community. I started cooking with my mom at age 9. Of my brothers, we all liked to eat, but I was the one that liked to cook,” he said. “I’ve had formal training, but my mom taught me how to cook.”

Tedesco said he worked in Las Vegas eateries for the last 15 years (and starred in a local television show and taught cooking classes), and opened other restaurants and catering businesses over the years. But, he confesses, “I love the ocean” and wanted to be closer to the sea than the desert.

“A friend was having surgery here and his wife came to be with him, but she doesn’t speak English (just Spanish) and my fiancé Elsa is from Mexico, so she and I came to keep his wife company and make sure he was OK,” he said. “People, especially Elsa, told me I needed to check out La Jolla. We came here, had some lunch and sat in the park. It just felt so good to be here.”

On the way out of town, he spotted a restaurant space for sale and thought about opening something there. While that first restaurant location sold before Tedesco could get to it, the 8,000-square-foot Roppongi space was still available, and he decided to buy it.

“Everything is big in Vegas, so I’m used to catering to big crowds,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier to have this big space.” In the next two months, he’ll be doing cosmetic changes and electrical upgrades to the interior, but little if anything to the exterior. He said he will also start hiring staff in August.

Come fall, Dominic’s Table will have a soft opening “to get all the kinks out” before a grand opening. “I don’t care how long you’ve been in this business, there are always things to work out,” he said. “If you’re so closed-minded that you think you know everything, you know nothing. There are critics everywhere and they’re going to critique you, good or bad, but you learn.

“I want people to be happy here and enjoy their food. I can promise the quality of ingredients and the care that goes into the food will be the best we can possibly do.”