It took Cistercian monks hundreds of years of careful practice to turn ordinary complaints into wine. Partake in the fruits of their labor with today's Groupon: for $10, you get $25 worth of Italian fare at TOAST Enoteca & Cucina on J Street.
Nestled in East Village next to Petco Park, TOAST was built on the premise of recreating an authentic Italian wine-tasting experience. With more than 400 labels hailing from Abruzzo, Italy, to New Zealand, TOAST allows sophisticated sippers to experience the bodies of prestigious wines from the 17 corners of the world in an intimate and upscale environment. The menu offers a selection of rustic Italian eats to complement pours and satiate appetites with savories such as panino pollo lattuga e pancetta, a thinly sliced chicken breast, pancetta, and lettuce sandwich with spicy tomato sauce ($10). Slip away from singular sipping and combine a glass of prosecco ($10) from Veneto, Italy, with the fusilli corti alla carbonara (gluten-free spaghetti in carbonara sauce, $14). Balance the aroma and flavor of a glass of tempranillo (a red from Catalunya, Spain, $9) with the pizza al prosciutto, which pairs classic pomodoro sauce and mozzarella with piquant prosciutto di parma ($14). Owner and executive chef Martin Gonzalez opened his other Italian restaurant, the notable Acqua Al 2, before developing his vision for injecting East Village with a mighty dose of premier wines.
- Aside from the rare and delicious wines not easily come by in these parts, the food at TOAST is, frankly, incredible. While you might not think to head to a wine bar for a five-star meal, TOAST makes you think twice about this presumption. With an incredible Italian menu and dishes served with traditional tastes and upscale palates in mind, even if you’re not a wine drinker, you would enjoy a meal in this special locale. – Jennifer Graves, Haute Living
Toast Enoteca & Cucina
Every day at Toast Enoteca & Cucina, Mario Gonzalez performs a brilliant balancing act between tradition and innovation. Having trained in Italy under renowned chefs, he's mastered the fundamentals of Italian cooking, and his expertise shines in homemade pastas, sauces, and breads. However, his knack for experimentation has also led to modern showstoppers, such as pizza topped with octopus ragu. These meals have made his name synonymous with San Diego's Italian food scene—and secured him a job as a caterer for the San Diego Padres whenever the team has trouble firing up the dugout smoker.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Gonzalez's balancing act, however, is the wine. Toast has up to 400 wines on its award-winning list, with varietals from New Zealand, Argentina, Germany, and Spain in addition to Italy. But this classic accompaniment to dinner is often delivered in what looks like a science-fiction device: an Enomatic machine, designed to pour wine by the glass while keeping it fresh within the bottle.