Boasting Michelin stars and three decades of culinary experience, executive chef Patrick Ponsaty pilots a team that creates upscale seafood and contemporary gourmet fare. Ponsaty’s colleagues include young chefs Gianina Dicicco and Mike Reidy, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and the New England Culinary Institute. Dishes with modern, imaginative flavors include squid-ink risotto, veal cheeks with orange-blossom mousse, and hibiscus-pomegranate consommé. Each creation is a work of visual art, too, with colorful spices, marbleized sauces, and carefully stacked ingredients arranged to resemble Rodin’s The Thinker.
The hand-crafted meals at La Farfalla Café are inspired by the fresh flavors of the Mediterranean. Show spoons what they’ve been missing with pizza soup, a beefy broth of sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and peppers simmered in a tomato-based sauce with optional pasta and mozzarella ($2.95/small, $5.25/large). Garden-fresh flavor that doesn't involve sleeping face-down in a neighborhood vegetable patch comes in the form of organic quinoa tabbouleh salad, sprouting full vegan fervor with a mixture of fresh italian parsley, carrots, cucumbers, green onions, tomatoes, lemon, and olive oil ($8.95). Flatten hunger with a piadina, house bread dough rolled flat and warmed in a dry skillet, topped with options that include chicken, pesto, provolone, and tomato with a choice of green salad or potato salad ($8.95). Satisfy sweet and salad-y urges with the chocolate-zucchini cake, slathered with rich chocolate buttercream ($2.95) and manageable by dessert fork or pitchfork. La Farfalla Café uses organic ingredients in all of its dishes whenever possible, will make almost anything to special order, and offers eaters the option to make their meals gluten-free for $1 extra.
At Sadaf, variety is the main attraction. Kebabs arrive at tables skewered with juicy bits of chicken, seafood, beef, or lamb and share plate space with saffron-seasoned basmati rice. Exposed-brick walls show off bas-relief carvings of ancient symbols such as the Faravahar, which represents the Iranian nation. A ceiling painted to look like a clear sky with a thin veil of clouds and in-flight birds looks down on diners as they dig into lamb shank, boneless-chicken kebabs, and other delicacies. Weather permitting, guests can snag a seat on the front patio and scan the skies for majestic, soaring ostriches.
Imported spices and fluffy indian basmati rice complement Paradiso Mediterranean Cuisine’s menu of meats cooked on an open-flame charcoal grill. The gyro sandwich layers thinly sliced lamb and beef with tomato, lettuce, and onion inside a pita pocket ($5.99–$6.49), and skewers of cubed lamb ($16.95) marinate in a special house recipe before becoming a tasty practice round for sword swallowers. Platters pair lonely entrees, including lightly fried falafel patties ($9.49) or marinated and charbroiled chicken gyros, with basmati rice, greek salad, pita bread, and tzatziki sauce. Though Paradiso's chefs toss and slice their fresh ingredients with an eye toward healthy cooking techniques, diners can still end on an indulgent note with house-made cream puffs or baklava ($3.25 each).
Eschewing the over-the-top costumes and writing that typify many other murder-mystery dinners, The Dinner Detective San Diego’s cast of improvisational actors blends in with audiences, holding secrets tight to their chests while steering each night’s tension-filled storyline. After a diner is found murdered, a resident detective helps lead the investigation, allowing guests to interrogate one another with Tickle Monster tactics to distinguish the culprit among the crowd of fellow diners and dissembling thespians. Multicourse meals keep bodies well fueled during spurts of crime-solving intuition, and a prize basket awaits the gumshoe who comes closest to solving the case.
Dominic's fresh, authentic Italian cuisine, served at lunch and dinner, pairs with a countryside wall mural, vines creeping down grotto-like archways, and red-and-white-checkered table cloths for a charming dining experience. For lunch, diners can partake in traditional plates, such as cheese ravioli ($8.75) and Ma's breaded chicken breast ($9.95), share a 12-inch pepperoni pizza pie ($9.95), or two-hand a classic muffaletta piled with ham, salami, cheese, and garnish galore ($8.99 for a whole sandwich). Dinner dishes support hefty helpings of lasagna ($12.95), chicken parmigiana ($14.95), and veal piccata sautéed in lemon-butter sauce ($19.95), like a tightrope supports a tightrope walker carrying a refrigerator, and can be paired with wine, such as a glass of Santa Cristina sangiovese ($5).
At Sushi Yama, versatile chefs impart a modern flair to traditional Japanese cooking, serving satisfying noodle and katsu dishes alongside succulent sashimi plates and meticulously crafted rolls of sushi. Like a replica of a Rodin sculpture made from mochi, each meal is a blend of delicious cuisine and fine art, entrancing diners with crispy strips of tempura or crimson slivers of tuna and beef accented by colorful sliced vegetables and creamy, paper-thin crescents of avocado. A mouthwatering litany of more than 20 specialty rolls unite morsels of yellowtail, salmon, and blackened grilled shrimp with crispy panko, sweet plum essence, and zesty lime, and meals of udon and grilled salmon deliver rich notes of umami flavor. Diners garnish feasts with inventive appetizers of chili-kissed oysters and wasabi-laced fish tacos while clinking glasses of frosty beer and potent sake.