With the hospitality pendulum shifting from large fine-dining establishments to casual “come-as-you-are” atmospheres, one local Southern California based hospitality guru is taking it a step further and re-concepting her beloved existing upscale restaurant brand into smaller fast-casual spinoffs. 

Under a progressive move to meet the growing consumer demand for more approachable dining options while maintaining the same level of superior quality for which her brand is widely recognized, celebrated female restaurateur Tracy Borkum (Urban Kitchen Group) is expanding her CUCINA collection of bohemian California-inspired Italian restaurants (CUCINA urbana, CUCINA enoteca—Newport Beach, Del Mar and Irvine) with the introduction of her fast-casual version—cucina SORELLA—which opened doors last month in San Diego's Kensington neighborhood. Appealing to the tight-knit community in which Borkum got her start 20 years ago, this new model translates to "little sister" following the same anthem of her CUCINA siblings with a more casual take on the upscale setting including a heavy pasta emphasis, artisan retail 'to go' shop and cooking class lineup. Additional locations are currently in the works. 

Located in the heart of San Diego’s beloved Kensington neighborhood, cucina SORELLA re-conceptualizes a 3,500-square-foot space at 4055 Adams Avenue, that housed the former Kensington Grill for nearly 20 years and most recently Fish Public, into a charming community destination, transformed through Borkum’s signature ‘Bohemian-chic’ design esthetic with pops of bright colors and floral prints, plush pillows, ornate fixtures, and foliage throughout.

Newly appointed Chef de Cuisine, Daniel Wolinsky, is overseeing cucina SORELLA’s kitchen under the direction of Urban Kitchen Group Executive Chef, Joe Magnanelli. Chef Wolinsky brings nearly a decade of experience from multiple New York City staples such as Frankies Spuntino and Prime Meats, as well as kitchens across the globe including Massimo Bottura’s three-star Michelin restaurant Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy). The culinary program at cucina SORELLA offers a new spin on CUCINA’s signature Cal-Italian cuisine, and the menu places a heavy emphasis on authentic handcrafted pastas, seasonal antipasti, and plates, both small and large, sweet, and savory. 

Mirroring the restaurant collective’s passion for wine, cucina SORELLA’s regional wine director Augusto Ferrarese pours a curated list of Italian varietals and regional producers from the West Coast. Rounding out the beverage program, the bar offers nearly a dozen seasonal cocktails, a selection of local craft beer on draught, and a 0-proof menu of non-alcoholic libations.

In the months to come, pasta lovers can look forward to cucina SORELLA’s interactive hands-on pasta making classes where attendees will have an opportunity to learn from the pro as Chef Wolinsky educates guests on the art of pasta and traditional Italian cooking techniques.

Chef Profiles, Industry News, NextGen Casual