Owner and head chef Francesco Basile cut his culinary teeth as a young boy in his native Sicily, peeling potatoes and cleaning fish for traditional family feasts. After graduating from culinary school, Francesco broadened his skills and palate, mastering meals of hand-rolled pappardelle at Italian resorts and learning to craft mouthwatering feasts of Italian-American fare at bustling restaurants in southern California. By opening Antica Trattoria in 2001, he built a business dedicated to cooking with fresh ingredients and celebrating simple, traditional Italian dishes, enrapturing diners with meals of pepper-crusted pork loin, melted brie with figs jam, and seafood stews swimming in tomato-herb broth. Together with right-hand-cook Eric Ruiz, Francesco changes his menu with the seasons, delivering seafood plates tinged with the aroma of fresh herbs and fennel in the spring and walnut cream sauces and pumpkin ravioli in the autumn.
The restaurant exudes a rustic, timeless charm, with walls of bare brick decorated with tops of wooden wine crates and colorful murals of idyllic Italian countryscapes. A towering china hutch in the rear dining area evokes images of a grandmother's kitchen, and an elegant marble-topped wine bar brings forth memories of a grandmother's secret speakeasy, inviting diners to sample tasty digestifs of fine vino from across Italy, France, and the Pacific coast.
Trolley Stop Deli's choppers whip up sandwiches with Boar's Head Premium meats, toss crisp salads, and dish out breakfast fare daily. Browse the menu and select from nine specialty sandwiches ($7.25 each), such as the California, with roasted turkey and avocado, or the Cordon Bleu, featuring chicken married to a slice of ham by the power vested in melted swiss as witnessed by mayo, dijon, and a very jealous toasted sourdough. A bill of seven salads includes the roasted turkey- and swiss-infused pasta salad ($5.50), as well as the stuffed tomatoes packed with tuna, chicken, or egg salad lounging on a duvet of greens ($6.75). The Reuben Rapp and the veggie-and-cheese wrap ($7.25) hide fresh ingredients in airtight pockets. If hunger strikes at first light like an invading army or an incompetent vampire, diners can pop by Trolley Stop Deli for a three-egg bacon omelet croissant ($4.25), a bagel with cream cheese ($2.25), or the San Diegan breakfast wrap comprising chicken, cheese, salsa, jalapeños, and sour cream ($4.95).
Riviera Supper Club and Turquoise Room gives do-it-yourselfers a reason to eat outside the kitchen. Like a classy backyard without the tuxedo-clad bug zappers, the restaurant serves platters of raw filet mignon, pork spare ribs, and bratwursts for diners to cook up on an enormous, indoor communal grill. Yet much of the guesswork is taken out of the equation: every steak is USDA Choice, every rack of ribs comes pre-seasoned with a dry rub, and every side dish takes shape in the kitchen under the eye of skilled chefs. And those same culinary masters can also handle the rest of the cooking if guests desire to stay away from the heat—the menu also includes entrees of slow-braised pork and roast chicken.
This family-style grilling experience is just one facet of a two-sided coin. The Turquoise Room stirs up a different sort of nostalgia, harkening back to the age of lounge singers and strong cocktails with a mid-century bar. There, glasses of Pimm's Cup and martinis served with blue-cheese-stuffed olives offset bacon-fat popcorn and garlic bread topped with sauteed onions. To further the club experience, live bands of every genre play in the space throughout the week.
They say that clothes make the man, but Wyman Bradley knows that a flattering haircut can have the same effect. That's why he gives sharp new 'dos to homeless men, women, and children at the San Diego Rescue Mission and Rachel's Women's Center. Wyman developed his knowledge of different hair textures and types in five salons before setting up shop at Avia Hair Salon and Day Spa, and he also travels to teach Rusk techniques to aspiring stylists. In addition to 30 years of experience, he draws on the training he received from Brazilian Blowout, Rusk, Goldwell Hair Color, and Patric Antonio Bradley. When Wyman isn't sculpting tresses with haircuts and color, he brightens strands with ombre highlights and makes unmanageable curls smooth by introducing them to Kenny G.
Exposed wooden rafters and cobblestone walls create the rustic ambiance that The Vine Cottage’s name promises, but the menu adds dimension to this theme with a contemporary take on Italian and American staples. The chefs value sustainably produced meals, so they seek out seasonal, organic, and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. These ingredients lend vibrant flavors to the menu’s flatbread-style pizzas, hearty pasta dishes, and grilled steaks. Housemade duck leg confit and remoulade also help to create a dining experience that is homey yet refined, much like the artwork-laden refrigerator in Monet’s childhood home.
As San Diego’s oldest interactive mystery-comedy dinner theater, Mystery Cafe Dinner Theater dazzles audiences with live comedic mystery performances. Each show boasts an interactive format in which actors engage with the audience, possibly involving them in plotlines and using them in cameo appearances.