busalacchi’s a modo mio / hillcrest – san diego, ca

Busalacchi’s is a pretty well known name around here in San Diego and recently I had the opportunity to visit Busalacchi’s A Modo Mio in Hillcrest for “a modo mio” week – or “my way” – where the chef calls the shots for dinner service. Guests get to choose what kind of entree they want (chicken, red meat, fish or vegetarian) and chef Joe Busalacchi takes care of the rest. It’s a fun and adventurous way to dine and you get to taste a little bit of everything that a restaurant has to offer.

This was the appetizer samplers laid out before Stacey and I for our first course. No messing around here. There’s a little bit of everything, including some complimentary bread with a bruschetta topping (which was incredibly flavorful for something that just looked like tomatoes in a cup).

[garbanzo croquettes]

These little fried croquettes were made out of garbanzo beans and pressed into this square shape. I thought they looked kind of weird and spongy, but they were actually a little crisp on the outside and kind of creamy in the middle (and really not spongy whatsoever). I’ve never seen garbanzos prepared like this before!

[pickled veggies plate with artichoke, olives, mushrooms, sardines, cheese and prosciutto]

We also got this little plate of mostly pickled things. I personally don’t like pickled anything so I was feeling very adventurous with this plate. I did try the mushroom but I didn’t care for it – the marinade made it taste off to me, but like I said… no pickled stuff for me. Prosciutto was fine, a tad salty though.

[pizza bread]

For some reason I have no notes about this except “pizza bread” and “flavorful”.

Clearly I need to take better notes.

[eggplant parmesan]

This dish actually surprised me because I don’t usually like eggplant. But this dish I ended up really liking it and – funny enough – didn’t taste at all to me like eggplant. I just tasted a very flavorful, rich and herby sauce with plenty of basil. The eggplant was tender and just soaked up the flavor of the sauce so I was really astounded I liked it!


Since Stacey doesn’t eat seafood, I got to have this plate all to myself. Wonderfully seasoned calamari, I would marry you if I could. The batter on this version is light and crispy, well seasoned and perfectly fried. The batter did not take away from the deliciousness of the calamari and is one of the better versions I’ve had of this dish.

[frisee pomegranate salad with arugula and pumpkin seeds]

This salad had frisee and arugula in it – and yet I still liked it! The combination of flavors and textures just made this whole salad really shine – from the crunchy bits of pumpkin seeds to the brightness of the pomegranates to the sweetness of the dressing balanced with the peppery arugula. Really packed with flavor and it was pretty and artful. Continue reading “busalacchi’s a modo mio / hillcrest – san diego, ca”

urban eats / hillcrest – san diego, ca

Urban Eats is a new little restaurant in Hillcrest that’s been open for about three months now under the helm of Chef Christopher B. Sayre. The spot started out earlier this year as Taco Banh before Sayre decided to switch gears and instead open up Urban Eats, a locally sourced restaurant serving up a mix of American dishes. My cohorts and I had noticed on the bottom of our bill it has said “Taco Banh” and curiosity got me to Google searching. It seems Taco Banh didn’t quite work out and Urban Eats was able to rise up out of that. Jake and I are certainly glad that it came to this as we dined here twice within one week – once as a guest and another time on our own with our friend, Laura.

The space is small, but cozy. The bar is the first thing to catch your eye with its colorful Asian lanterns. The simple seats are all set up with place settings and menus and your greeted in a most friendly manner to “sit anywhere you’d like!”

Kyle, our host, server, and waiter extraordinaire, was there to take care of us on both visits. His warm and friendly personalities just exudes charm. I loved him immediately, especially when he recognized us on our second visit and already knew we were going to order the macaroni and cheese again.

More on that later.

At Urban Eats you get cucumber water, which I love. Jake puts his cucumbers into my glass because he’s weird and doesn’t like cucumbers.

*eye roll*

[cheesy baguette slices with honey butter]

All customers get this complimentary appetizer to start. It’s a little more doled up than just “bread and butter” so I call it an appetizer. Baguette slices with cheese and a little cup of honey butter greet you shortly after you take a seat, luring you in. The butter has drizzles of honey on it, so the honey is still distinct as you slather it onto a slice and devour it. It’s a yummy way to start any meal.

[mini grilled cheese – swiss + cheddar + brie + tomato bisque – $6]

On our first visit, I decided I had to try the Mini Grilled Cheese. The grooves on this appetizer are serious. Super panini pressing was going on to create this sandwich. The size reminded me of those weird French Toast sticks. I could tell it was basically a sandwich cut into fours, but I didn’t really care. Oozing cheese on grilled bread makes me happy and these were pretty tasty dunked in the cup of tomato bisque that accompanied them. My only complaint would be that I thought it was cooked a little too long and I tasted more bread than cheese.

Continue reading “urban eats / hillcrest – san diego, ca”