Array of new businesses opening in La Jolla

Several new pizza and Italian eatery options in the works in or near the Village

Catania coastal Italian restaurant, the first tenant to announce inclusion in the La Plaza La Jolla boutique shopping center at Wall Street and Girard Avenue, is scheduled to hold its grand opening Monday, March 16.

The restaurant is the latest venture from Whisknladle Hospitality, the team behind La Jolla’s Whisknladle restaurant and three Prepkitchen locations (including one on Fay Avenue). Arturo Kassel, Whisknladle Hospitality’s CEO and managing partner, said the third-floor, ocean-view restaurant will serve dinner and lunch, with an array of specialty pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven. Vincent Schofield, previously chef de cuisine at Whisknladle, is executive chef.

“The kitchen build-out is complete; we’ve actually been cooking all week,” Kassel told La Jolla Light last month. “Working with wood-burning equipment has a steep learning curve so it’ll be great to have 1,000 pizzas under our belt before we open. … The hardest part is the dough and the sauce. We’re stoked on our sauce and we’re like 75 percent of the way there on the dough.”

Kassel said Catania will exclusively serve Italian wines or Italian varietals. When it comes to the suds, Kassel assured, “San Diego is craft beer-crazy, and we are, too … (but) we actually will not be featuring local craft beer here. Italy, believe it or not, has a craft beer movement all its own. … When people think of Italian beers the first thing that comes to mind is Morreti or Peroni. That’s their version of Budweiser and Miller Light. We won’t be serving that. At Catania, we’re going to be serving exclusively craft Italian vintages.”

With one exception, he said.

The eatery plans to partner with San Diego brewers to offer locally brewed interpretations of Italian-style craft beers, to be served on a rotating basis. The first partner in the venture is New English Brewing Company. Kassel said he met with New English owner-brewer Simon Lacey to taste some Italian craft beers, as a point of departure for the first brew.

Meanwhile, Tara Meehan of Davlyn Investments, owner-developer behind La Plaza La Jolla, said the overall center is also on-track to open in mid-March.

“Select businesses will be open at that time,” she assured, though at this time only Catania has confirmed. “There is a lot of work going on within the building as individual tenants design and build out their spaces, and the common areas are just about complete.”

Other pizza eatery news includes the expansion of Regents Pizzeria at 4150 Regents Park Row into a 4,100-square-foot space adjacent the UTC locale it has occupied for a decade. The eatery offers 25 specialty pizzas, including New York- and Chicago-style pies, and features craft beer, Chicago blues music and an outdoor, canyon-view beer garden.

Isola Pizza Bar is scheduled to open its third location at 7734 Girard Ave. (formerly Nosh Delicatessen) in May or June, serving thin, simple and flavorful Neapolitan pizza made in a wood-burning oven imported from Naples.

The recipes were passed down from the grandmother of chef-owner Massimo Tenino, who hails from San Remo, a Mediterranean coastal city in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy. Other Isola locations are in Tucson and San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood.

Piazza 1909, the newest project from Milan-educated chef Stefano Ceresoli (Caffe Bella Italia, Solare Ristorante) will also open in the near future at 7731 Fay Ave. (formerly Aloha Sushi).

A second location of Bird Rock’s Farm to Fork juice bar is slated to open this month at 1123 Wall St. (formerly Winchell’s Jewelry), selling raw, organic cold-pressed juices, organic vegan treats, superfood snack packs and their popular Rick-a-roons.

Guys seeking a new look to rock the Catania opening should feel at home in 
the Bonobos “Guideshop,” which opened last month in UTC Westfield Mall adjacent Starbucks in the central court.

Customers are offered a local craft beer upon entering to peruse the online retailer’s collection of washed chinos, suits, dress shirts and casual wear. Shoppers try on Bonobos items in-store, and they are shipped directly to their home.

“You know how you order something online and you’re expecting red from the picture on-screen and then it comes and it’s burgundy and you’re disappointed? This way you know exactly what you’re getting,” manager Megan Cram said, adding, “we know that things happen, so we have a really lenient return policy.”

The company’s most popular item, its 100-percent cotton, washed chinos, start at $88. Suit jackets are designed between an American fit and a European fit.

“With a European fit everything’s going to be extremely tailored, very snug, where maybe a guy can’t fit into it; an American fit is very boxy and straight down. We’re right in the center,” Cram said.

A new, full-service Union Bank branch has opened at La Jolla Village Square Mall (8715 Villa La Jolla Drive). In honor of local non-profit organizations, Union Bank donated $7,000 to three organizations during an opening event Jan. 28: UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic, VA San Diego Healthcare System and the all-volunteer UC San Diego Pep Band. The branch features a community meeting room available to non-profit organizations for after-hours events.

Elizabeth Allen Atelier at 7449 upper Girard Ave. will close when her lease expires at the end of April, to focus exclusively on her online infant clothing and bed linen business ( Until then, she will operate as a consignment shop taking in and selling women’s and baby clothes and decorative home accessories. Items for sale include pillows, frames, china, bassinettes, holiday ornaments, handbags and fabrics by the yard.

In the wellness realm, Dr. Karin Nealon, a chiropractic physician, has opened La Luna Natural Health at 1122 Silverado St. She specializes in natural healing, and health and wellness for women and their families, including pediatric and perinatal pregnancy care.

Conscious Life Therapy opened at the Counseling Clinics of La Jolla, 1150 Silverado St. Psychotherapist Karen Muggli specializes in teens dealing with life challenges, such as attachment issues, depression, anxiety and life transition struggles.

And champion fighter Clark Gracie — La Jolla’s own “Ridiculously Photogenic Jiu Jitso Guy” (as virally christened in a 2013 meme and on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America”) — has opened Clark Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy at a new location on Pearl Street, just off Fay Avenue (next to The Comedy Store).