The Dish: North Park’s year-old Cori Pastificio Trattoria wins global restaurant award

Cori Pastificio Trattoria, which celebrated local chef Accursio Lota opened one year ago in North Park, is one of seven international restaurants that won special awards this week in Gambero Rosso’s 2021 Top Italian Restaurants Awards.

Cori Pastificio won in the “New Opening of the Year” category of the 4-year-old awards program created by Gambero Rosso, an Italian food and wine magazine. It was the only American restaurant to earn special recognition. The others are in China, Japan, France, Scotland and Canada. The judges note the restaurant’s “perfectly stuffed pastas,” classic dishes, well-curated wine list and fair prices.

Raised in Sicily, Lota started culinary school at 14. After working at the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan, Lota spent 6 ½ years as executive chef at Solare Ristorante in Liberty Station. Four years ago, he won the 2017 Barilla World Pasta Championships in Italy. Cori Pastificio, which Lota opened with his wife, Corinne, specializes in authentic Sicilian and Italian cuisine. Visit:

Swikard cooks for PGA tourney in Maui

San Diego chef Travis Swikard is in Maui this month for a two-week gig, cooking for the golfers at the PGA Sentry Tournament of Champions golf tournament.

Swikard’s business partner in his soon-to-open East Village restaurant Callie, David Cohn, has had a contract with the PGA to cater all of the food and beverage operations for the tournament at the Cohn Restaurant Group-owned The Plantation House restaurant at the Kapaula Resort in Lahaina, Maui.

For the second year, Swikard has led the chef team at Plantation House for the PGA tournament. The tournament wrapped up on Tuesday. An avid surfer, Swikard said he’s planning two days of surfing before he flies home later this week.

Yerbuzz hard seltzer.

Yerbuzz hard seltzer.

(Courtesy photo)

Yerbuzz launches hard seltzers

After 25 trial batches and 160 experimental flavor combinations, San Diego-based Yerbuzz released its first canned yerba mate hard seltzer drinks on Dec. 28.

Founded by Dan Nierman, a San Diego homebrewer and kombucha-maker, Yerbuzz has just shipped its first canned, 12-ounce guava- and blueberry-flavored hard seltzer drinks to San Diego stores.

Next up are the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets. The drinks are made with the antioxidant plant yerba mate and dry-fermenting dextrose. Vegan, gluten- and sugar-free, Yerbuzz has 120 calories per serving. It sells for $14.99 per six-pack. Visit

Halo-halo and tarchata with boba are among the dessert drinks at Snoice.

Halo-halo and tarchata with boba are among the dessert drinks at Snoice.

(Courtesy of Stefanie Au)

Snoice expands to Convoy

Snoice, an Asian dessert shop that debuted in 2015 in Paradise Hills, opened its second location last week at 7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite 108, in Kearny Mesa’s Convoy dining district.

Snoice, a word created from the words “snow” and “ice,” serves cold Asian-inspired desserts like halo-halo, shaved snow, boba drinks and custom ice cream sandwiches. It’s owned by Filipino-American entrepreneurs and San Diego natives Jayrell Ringpis and Dianne Manansala-Ringpis. Snoice started as a pop-up shop at the Kababayan Bakery, a Filipino restaurant in Paradise Hills owned by Dianne’s family for the past 15 years. Visit:

Smokey & The Brisket has opened in La Mesa.

Smokey & The Brisket has opened in La Mesa.

(Courtesy photo)

Smokey & The Brisket opens in La Mesa

Smokey & The Brisket, a new restaurant that mixes barbecue and Italian cuisine, opened last week in the former Lake Murray Cafe location at 5465 Lake Murray Blvd. in La Mesa.

The restaurant’s chef/owner is Alberto Morreale, whose other projects include Farmer’s Table and Farmer’s Bottega. The menu includes ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken cooked in an onsite smoker and Italian-style flatbreads, as well as salads and sides. Visit:

The Strawberry Banana Pancakes at The Mission restaurant in the Mission Beach.

The Strawberry Banana Pancakes at The Mission restaurant in the Mission Beach.

(Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Mission restaurants change hands

After 25 years, business partners Fay Nakanishi, Deborah Helm and Thomas Fitzpatrick have sold their The Mission restaurant company — with locations in Mission Beach, East Village and North Park — to Global Pacific Management. The breakfast/lunch cafes are known for their creative breakfast dishes, Latin-inspired entrees, house-baked breads and vegan options.

In a Facebook post last week, the trio said they plan to retire. Global Pacific has promised to keep the same menu, staff and community commitment. All three locations are currently closed due to public health orders. Visit

Rubio’s introduces ‘Impossible’ items

San Diego-based Rubio’s Coastal Grill restaurant chain has introduced three new menu items featuring the Impossible-brand plant-based meat alternative: the Impossible Taco Salad, Impossible Burrito Especial and Impossible California Bowl. The Impossible ground meat, which has been custom-blended with Mexican spices for Rubio’s, can also be substituted as a protein in all chicken or beef entrees. Visit

Pam Kragen writes about restaurants and new food products for The San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at [email protected].