Buzz is back after a much needed hiatus. So here we go with the latest in San Diego’s ever growing food scene.

Notable is the explosion of new restaurants in Little Italy, with the latest additions at Beech Street and Kettner Boulevard in the 22 story Ariel Suites luxury apartments.

Baja’s celebrity chef Javier Plascencia secured the corner ground and balcony level (balcony with views of the bay and city), while Pan Bon comes from Italy to open their first US outpost, with a bakery and fine dining spot in the bi-level space. Should anyone want to cook at home, Hanson Market will occupy a large space for organic and natural foods. Don’t expect to be eating too soon as it will likely be some months before the spots open for business.

Also on Kettner, a bit north between Juniper and Ivy Streets is one of the hottest new places: Juniper & Ivy featuring some very good and innovative food from Atlanta’s celebrity chef, Richard Blais.

For a perfect espresso or cold brewed coffee in a tranquil setting on north India Street is James Coffee.  The coffee bar is in Vi-Star, a unique large space, filled with unique gifts for babies, dogs, people and homes. You can browse as you sip or sit and eat a very light, classic quiche Lorraine supplied by a local chef named Mark. 2355 India St. San Diego, coffee Monday to Friday, 7am to 4pm and weekends 8am to 4pm.

ICYMI: For those of you who may want to delve deeper into food related news stories, here are a few that Buzz found worthy: Mark Bittman on “Rethinking the Word Foodie”; and Paul Greenberg on “Why Are We Importing Our Own Fish?”. Both stories worth contemplating. And finally, some great press for San Diego from The Wall Street Journal on four top places to buy and drink wine.

For the longest time Point Loma suffered from a lack of restaurant choices.  But now things are popping as Buzz  reported in February.  The latest addition to the group is Lighthouse Bar and Grill that opened last week at the corner of Canon and Scott Streets with a full liquor license (beers on tap too) and a menu that includes 10-inch pizzas ($11.95 to $13) that might give Old Venice pause.

It’s a casual room with bar seating (comfortable seats, unlike those hard tiny ones at Old Venice), with tables on the perimeter of the rooms.  Expect some hiccups as they settle in with their menu that includes everything from salads and crab cakes to pasta and pizzas. (A few menu items may look familiar but with a different twist, coming from their sister restaurant Pomodoro next door.)  My take-out pizza arrived with no basil (but had a not too thick or chewy crust, hand formed and was good even minus the basil). Their crab cakes are good if you like the almost pâté style that they and many other places serve.  Buzz prefers the chunky, light, with no or very little, cracker crumb filler.

I called to let the manager know about the missing basil so that he could alert the kitchen, and he thanked me for telling him.  Yes, it’s good to nicely let a restaurant know about a problem as it helps them iron out the opening kinks.  It’s not nice to slam a place in a Yelp comment without first letting them know the problem.

Observed at the bar single gals checking the scene with drinks as well as solo guys, locals, having dinner.  Open for dinner and now, soon for lunch. 1101 Scott St., Point Loma, 619-224-2272.

A few blocks away on Rosecrans, between Canon and Talbot comes Westy’s Antique & Tavern at 1029 Rosecrans.  Just posted the ABC notice, so it will be a bit of time before it opens.  Local resident James West is listed as applicant for the beer and wine license.

And in the same block La Playa Café and Marketplace opens Thursday, June 30.  Owner Cindi of La Playa Bistro, next door plans to serve gelato, smoothies, sandwiches and more.

On Kettner, in Little Italy just before Juniper, 98 Bottles expects to open this summer.  Sounds like it will be a fun spot

UPDATE:  More Buzz about the Roseville space:…We’re hearing The Waterfront (on Kettner) wants it–and a full liquor license–and will redo the restaurant with a different name, but same Waterfront concept.

Terra in Hillcrest will close and move to 7091 El Cajon Boulevard in a stand alone former Italian restaurant at 71st and El Cajon Boulevard.  They will open the first week in April.  In the meantime, you can enjoy a Valentine’s dinner at the current location, for just $59 plus tax and tip.  Their final “hoorah” party as Rossman put it in his email blast will be March 18. 3900 Vermont St., San Diego, 619.293.7088.

Other places we’ve been wondering about:  Mia Francesca’s in Little Italy, beset by construction issues, finally forging ahead again.  Their website says they expect to open Little Italy in May and in August a second location in Del Mar Highlands Town Center. 1655 India Street, San Diego, 619-237-9606 and 12955 El Camino Real, G-4, San Diego.

Brazen BBQ Smokehouse & Bar has their liquor license application posted. We should soon be seeing some good barbecue at 441 Washington and Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest.

Finally, should anyone want to buy the restaurant as well as the real estate of Lamont Street Grill is for sale, complete with a  type 47 liquor license and two rental units for $1,495,000.  For more information:  858-764-4223.

We’re hearing the Point Loma former site of Roseville (closed in August, 2010), might become a fun casual sports bar concept.  We say might since the landlords seems to be dragging their feet to get the place rented…or return phone calls from the potential lessee. 

As noted here, chef Amy DiBiase recently left Roseville and we’ve learned just landed at the Glass Door in Little Italy.  Expect to see a new menu  (and hopefully a revamped dining room) very soon.  At Roseville, Chad White, who was DiBiase’s sous chef, continues in the kitchen and Buzz guesses there will be some new menu items here as well.

There’s some noise in Point Loma that a building at Garrison and Rosecrans (and backs up to the Dolphin Motel on Scott St.) is being remade to become a steak house…yep, that’s what we’re hearing…so stay tuned for more info.

The latest eatery to join Bankers Hill’s “gourmet gulch” opens Monday, April 5.  Barrio Star makes it six for the Isabel Cruz collection of eateries–three in San Diego and two in Oregon–she’s well-known in Pacific Beach for Isabel’s Cantina.  It will be a nice addition to the myriad of places available to diners in the area.  In just one block on Fifth Avenue between Nutmeg and Oliver, there’s Mexican (Barrio Star), American (Avenue 5 Restaurant & Bar) or sushi (Hane).  Dessert is up a block or so at Extraordinary Desserts.  A few blocks south on Fifth at Laurel is Italian (Cucina Urbana) and French (Hexagone and Bertrand at Mr. A’s) and there’s more sushi (Azuki) and pizza (Pizzicato) to round out those few blocks on Fifth.

Two more soon-to-open places in Bankers Hill:  Gourmet on Fifth in the former space of a coffee and sandwich place (north across the street from Cucina Urbana) and Carl Schroeder’s much anticipated Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant at Ivy and Fourth Avenue.

Moving on:  Chef Wade Hageman, has left Blanca in Solana Beach to pursue a location of his own. He hopes to stay in San Diego.  Buzz will keep you posted.

Open for business: Burger Lounge (a Buzz fav) in Little Italy, across the street from Indigo Grill.  It is their fourth location (La Jolla, Coronado and Kensington round out the list).

Cucina Urbana:  Newly named, with a new menu and concept at Fifth and Laurel.  Food pals who recently dined there said atmosphere is fun; food working out the kinks.  Haven’t been, but do wonder why food and service kinks are not worked out before opening to the public, especially with a well-known restaurateur like Tracy Borkum (and others who seem to have the same issue).

Corvette Diner & Gamers Garage finally opened in Liberty Station.  On a recent Monday night, the wait for a table was an hour and a half…gotta love those burgers.  Tiny bar area. Lots of noise and very loud music; lots of  games in a separate area (kids and adults in that area) and an oddly darker dining area that seems a bit more civilized for eating. Oodles of parking and bring your patience while you wait for a table. We didn’t choose to wait.

Had a chance to lunch with out of town friends at Enoteca Style on India Street between Ash and Beech.  Well-priced paninis, and flavorful and inventive salads.  Loved the soba salad with ahi and a Caesar with fresh corn and grilled chicken cut into bite-size pieces.  Interesting wines and happily sold in 3 ounce pours if you so desire.

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Roseville now serves a Sunday brunch from 10am to 3pm.  And it’s not just your usual eggs, toast and bacon breakfast.  Chef Amy DiBiase dishes have creative twists to them: buttermilk pancakes with quince compote and cardamom cream ($11), potato-rosemary frittata ($12), duck confit stuffed crepes ($14), eggs Benedict with Con Pane’s focaccia and prosciutto ($14) and chive biscuits with linguica gravy ($12).  For reservations and information call: 619-450-6800.

Burger Lounge will open in Little Italy at the former site of Sushi Fix.  Expect to see burgers and those yummy fresh-cut fries available in the next few months.

If you love Tijuana Mexican style food but don’t love the drive to get it, Funky Garcia’s Mexican Eatery & Bar, opens soon in the Gaslamp.  It will feature mesquite grilled Mexican street tacos and a food menu with nothing over $5. Moe Sadighian, the chef and owner of Tabule around the corner has five other Tijuana based restaurants, so he knows his stuff when it comes to truly authentic TJ food.  421 Market Street, San Diego, 858-414-6654.

Look for the Hillcrest Corvette Diner to close on April 26 and reopen in Liberty Station early summer 2009.  Owned by the Cohn Restaurant Group, the new site features a gaming arcade, more seating and lots of parking.  Housed in a historic building that was the officers club, the new Corvette Diner & Gamers Garage will also give diners three different themed areas for family dining.  For adults who may need a drink beyond a milk shake, there will be a full bar.  The restaurant is located at the Barnett Street entrance to Liberty Station, across from the golf course.

If you’re still wondering what to do New Year’s Eve, here are some suggestions:  Support your favorite neighborhood restaurants where you may be able to sit at the bar if they’re already booked for dinner, or think about early drinks and then home with friends–you cook or get food to-go.   It’s a good way to stay close to home, enjoy the evening and support the restaurants. Party–even in these woeful economic times–and everyone wins.

The possibilities are numerous for celebrating with many venues offering early and late seating and prix-fixe dinners of three plus courses at reasonable prices. So rather than list every place that sent Buzz a release (and many who didn’t post anything on their websites or send an email), here are some of my top picks.

Downtown/Gaslamp/Little Italy: Crescent Heights Kitchen & Lounge, Quarter Kitchen, TabuleBacchus Wine Market (3 to 6pm tasting), Anthology and Enoteca Style for cheese, chocolate and Champagne.

Coronado: The Hotel Del celebrates the 50th anniversary of the movie Some Like It Hot,  Eno and 1500 Ocean also at the hotel, Candelas (Ferry Landing and Gaslamp).

East CountyBarona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino, Frida Mexican Restaurant and many other local area restaurants.

North Park: Urban Solace, Sea Rocket Bistro, Alexander’s on 30th and The Linkery, not to mention the newest wine bar Splash.  At the opposite end of 30th is Jaynes Gastropub and around the corner on Adams, the wildly popular Farm House Cafe.

Point Loma/Liberty Station:   The Pearl HotelRoseville, Solare RistoranteTender Greens (perfect also for a party at home as you can order online for take-away), The 3rd Corner (also in Encinitas) Pomodoro in the old Luna Notte spot, no website: Phone: (619) 523-1301) and Mellow A Wine Bar.

Hillcrest/Bankers Hill: The Better Half, Modus, Wine Vault & Bistro, Avenue 5 Restaurant & Bar, Hexagone,(no website, 619-236-0467), Laurel Restaurant & Ba and Bertrand at Mr. A’s,

La Jolla/Del MarThe Marine Room, Nine-Ten Prospect, Market Restaurant & Bar, and The Grand Del Mar

Treat yourself to a sumptuous dinner featuring truffles in dishes paired with German wines at 1500 Ocean at the Hotel Del Coronado on November 12. Chef Brian Sinnott and the boutique wine merchant, Truly Fine Wine created a five course menu that includes veal cheeks, halibut and more along with a reception.  Among the wines there is a  Barth Spatburgunder Rose, Brut from the Reingau and a yes, there are fabulous dry German wines, that, contrary to what you might think, are quite dry…not sweet.  The cost of the dinner is $130 and includes tax and gratuity. For reservations and menu information:  Call 619-522-8490.

The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival has events, tastings, and enough food and wine to satiate a novice or gourmand.  It’s all happening November 12 to 16.

Celebrate the end of a long election year and support Taste of Little Italy on Wednesday, November 5.

Some of the best value wine dinners happen at Wine Vault & Bistro.  Get on their mailing list and learn about upcoming dinners and events.

Up in Little Italy at the new Porto Vista Hotel is The Glass Door restaurant. The hotel sits up on Columbia Street and the restaurant is on the fourth floor with an engaging view of the bay. There is a skinny outdoor patio that is perfect for a glass of wine and an appetizer as you watch the sunset.  A pal and I shared simple presentations of flat iron steak with arugula and cherry tomatoes ($14) and a composed blue fin tuna niçoise salad with house cured olives, capers, pan roasted haricot verts that could have used a little lettuce or green to tie the elements together on the plate ($12).  Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacking. For information and reservations:  619-564-3755.

Up on West Washington Avenue, Olivetto Cafe & Wine Bar (website not up yet) serves homey Italian food in a newly refurbished space in Mission Hills (across the street from the Lamplighter bar).  The room is comfortable, wood accents and walls without adornment (they look great).  A nightly special of risotto with chicken ($14) filled the bill for properly cooked rice, good chicken to make a nicely flavored, uncomplicated dish.  The restaurant makes a good addition to neighborhood eating. Open for lunch and dinner.  For information and reservations:  619-220-8222.

Tender Greens, in Liberty Station (on Old Decatur Rd, behind Trader Joe’s and Vons) is a unique concept that uses local ingredients whenever possible including fruits and vegetables from Crows Pass Farms in Temecula, Pacific Beach’s Pacific Shellfish, and Con Pane breads from Roseville.  This is the place you go when you don’t want to cook…but want good food at very reasonable prices.

At a recent media dinner we sampled some of the angus flank steak with Yukon gold mashed potatoes, the tuna noise salad with greens, potato, egg, olives and a zippy dressing, and a Chinese chicken salad with spicy greens and crispy wontons.  What is terrific about this place is all of these dishes are $10.  Yep, and they are satisfying and well made.  Desserts are $3 and are homemade with seasonal fruits by executive soups chef, Rain Brandenburg’s mother, Susanna.  While this is a casual and eco-friendly restaurant, the food is notches above many other local eateries.  The original Tender Greens is in Culver City.  Open daily from 11 am.  619-226-6254.

You’ve likely already heard about Wolfgang Pucks’ latest venture, jai at the La Jolla Playhouse complex.  Recently, Puck was in town for the media lunch and we sampled some of the menu.  The restaurant is contemporary, fits well with the UCSD campus…and is perfect for the theater-going public that longs for the ubiquitous Kobe burger ($16) or a tasty Chinese chicken salad ($8 or $14) or even a steak from Snake River Farm ($45).   One of the tastiest dishes is the miss sake broiled butterfish with noodles ($23).  This is Asian-fusion done with classic Puck oversight.  It’s not Sago in food or in price:  Most all of the mains are in the $20 range.  Great for a drink and bite before or after the show.  Catering available. For information 858-638-7778.

Wine lovers will be sad and glad to know that the famed Chateau Montelena winery in Calistoga is being sold to the house of Cos d’Estournel in the Saint-Estèphe area of Bordeaux.

Over at The Shores Restaurant and sister to the well-known Marine Room, Lisa Redwine is the new General Manager. Many may know her from Molly’s where she was the GM as well as the hotel wine director. Bernard Guillas is the executive chef for The Shores as well as the Marine Room. Both properties are part of the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.

EXY, the downtown chic Greek restaurant and lounge is now open for lunch with items such as chicken pita sandwich, swell hamburgers, salads and other dishes from their dinner menu–sized for lunch–and priced between $5 and $9. Open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and though Saturday for dinner. Also available for private functions on Sunday and Monday. Located at the corner of Sixth Avenue and F Street; phone: 619-238-0412.

The Saturday Little Italy Mercato grows weekly with new vendors that include rotisserie chickens from Grill Master, lots of seasonal and produce for locovores and bakery items too…I hope to get there this weekend. Located between Date Street and Kettner to Union and open from 9am to 1:30pm.