Enoteca Style in Little Italy bills itself as the best panini wine bar in San Diego. It’s the second concept from owners Maryjo Testa and Scott Thomas who created the popular downtown Salad Style for yummy salads that aren’t all lettuce.  The new place features a small menu with eight $9 panini combos named for the streets of Little Italy such as Date (honey baked ham, munster cheese, arugula, spicy whole grain mustard) or Ash (salami, mortadella, provolone cheese, pickled peppers garlic aioli).  Not a sandwich person?  Try their salads (duck confit, soba noodle and ahi tuna or peppered steak), artisan cheese plates and innovative bruschetta (beyond tomato and basil) and of course, wine.  Located on India Street between Ash and Beech, it’s an easy walk from Broadway so call your order ahead if you’re short on time.  Open from 11am, closed Sunday, 619-546-7138. 

Look for Point Loma’s newest addition, Roseville, to open by the end of the month. Executive chef Amy DiBiase’smenu will feature a French-Mediterranean twist using seasonal ingredients and seafood.  DiBiase arrived in San Diego some years ago and worked at the original Laurel Restaurant & Bar as sous chef to Jason Shaeffer.  When he left, she eventually became chef de cuisine and when the restaurant sold, moved on to Baleen at Paradise Point Resort.  Her food is approachable and innovative so expect dishes from $8 to $27 and nightly specials, all complemented with a worldly and eclectic wine list. 

No more Friday lunches at the popular Farm House Cafe.  Too bad, as it was a perfect ending after a long week when I met San Diego food lover and blogger Alice and then by chance other friends, well-known Barbarella and her photographer hubby David Fokos.  Buzz does understand the need to take a breath between service, especially in a small restaurant such as this so owner/chef Olivier Boiteau decided to keep it simple:  Dinner: Tuesday through Sunday, 5pm to 10pm.  Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 2pm.  Reservations suggested:  619-269-9662.

Executive chef, Brian O’Connor, left his post at Laurel Restaurant and Bar to go north for a position in San Francisco.  Filling in and doing double duty from Laurel’s sister restaurant Chive is chef Joe Magnanelli.

Red Marlin now serves Sunday brunch from 10am to 2pm, buffet style, $39.95 per person, children (age 4 to 12) $19.  Great panoramic views of Mission Bay, lots of entrees, omelet, waffle and dessert stations and, of course, mimosas. 

In the past few weeks Buzz has been to a couple of press events.  What this means is that new restaurants and their public relations firms invite press for a menu sampling and a glimpse of the place.  Sometimes, as happened last night at Solare Ristorante & Lounge, it’s a fun, crowded bar with the kitchen sending out small plates, the chefs working the room and the public relations people meeting and greeting the invitees. Other times, as was the case with Red Marlin it is a seated dinner.  And no, press doesn’t pay at these events.  So, here’s the quick Buzz on both places. 

Locals in Point Loma can now dine at Solare Ristorante & Lounge, a top-notch northern Italian restaurant with a great vibe in a comfortable setting, slightly off the beaten track in the NTC Historic area at the corner of Historic Decatur and Roosevelt.  That means a nice alternative to Old Venice and the other red sauce and pizza standbys.  The lively and inviting room, designed by owner and co-executive chef Stefano Ceresoli, includes terrace seating that overlooks the Promenade. Ceresoli and his wife Roberta also own Caffe Bella Italia in Pacific Beach.

The food reflects Stefano’s Milan roots co-executive chef Mark Pelliccia’s more than fifteen years cooking experience in Italy and Europe (he owns a house in Italy with a small vineyard).  Think butter instead of olive oil, a Slow Food appreciation, homemade pastas, desserts and food that is approachable and well presented. Among the small plates we tasted: a smooth carrot timbale, a Colorado lamb chop and a feather light croquette of cod. 

Open for lunch only until April 14 when they begin dinner service as well.  In the meantime, from April 1 to 13, they will have two tasting menus available:  A four course ($50) or six course dinner ($69) with wines that will be available from 5pm to 11pm, reservations are necessary at 619-270-9670.  The lounge is open and tapas can be ordered there. 

Want to watch the sunset with views of Mission Bay without the mess of beach sand?  Then follow Quivira Road (to the right around the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Mission Bay) where it dead-ends into a parking lot and where you can enter Red Marlin that is part of the hotel.  Large picture windows surround the room with seating that allows for views of the marina and at night the lights of Mission Bay.  The top of the slightly tiered room has a large chef’s table (where the 16 of us were seated) and where the view is of the wine wall and the the sunset or the marina.  There’s a terrace and an indoor-outdoor bar that looks towards the hotel pool area. 

And the food?  Chef de cuisine Danny Bannister comes to the kitchen with an education from the French Culinary Institute in New York and local experience at Laurel, Pamplemousse and 3rd Corner.  Our meal included seared ahi and a slaw flavored with a ponzu vinaigrette and spicy aioli; smoked salt and chli dusted scallop with a fava bean edamame puree and sweet chili sauce, and a grilled filet with five-spiced sweet potato mash.  Wines were paired for the courses, but unfortunately the menu forgot the vintages.  Bannister uses good local ingredients including breads from Con Pane, but I wished for a more assertive hand in his food.  Would I have chosen to have a puree and a mash in the same meal, likely not and in particular the fava bean one needed a seasoning jolt, even with the scallop’s nearly oversalted edge.   The service was gracious and attentive.

Hotel cooking can be difficult for a chef with good ideas–most of the time the chef has to find a middle ground to satisfy his or her creativity yet cater to guests who may not be familiar with food beyond steak.  Would I go back to Red Marlin?  Absolutely, and I hope Chef Bannister finds his stride as he settles in.  It’s a great place for locals.  Reservations:  619-221-4868.

Arterra’s new wine director is Jeff Q. Rose.  He comes with wine buying and bar managing experience from three of north county’s top wine haunts:  Tastes Restaurant, North County Wine Company and Harvest Ranch Market.  He is currently enrolled in Level 2 of the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a certified wine professional from the Culinary Institute of America.

Accolades to Barona’s top toque, Chef Dean Thomas who was named chef of the year by the San Diego chapter of the American Culinary Federation for his extensive outreach to the community and promoting the culinary community here.  Thomas was instrumental in getting the Fancy Food Show to San Diego as well as having the first ever chefs cookoff at the show and works with local groups including the Navy, Slow Food among many others.

The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina just redid the entire property.  The Red Marlin restaurant sports drop dead fabulous bay views, overlooking the hotel’s marina and at night, the lights of Mission Bay.  Large picture windows make the room open and airy and I don’t think there’s a bad table in the place.  Chef Danny Bannister creates breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes that use local, fresh ingredients.  For reservations: 619-221-4868.

Theater goers at La Jolla Playhouse may soon have a new venue for dining as rumors continue to swirl that Wolfgang Puck will be involved in the venture.  No confirming word yet from either the Playhouse or Wolfgang, but do stay tuned.

If you want to do something unusual, book a table at The Marine Room for high tide dining May 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  and 31, and dates in June, July and August also.  High tide means the waves are crashing against those large picture windows during dinner that is served nightly from 5:30pm.  Reservations:  858-459-7222.

Bourbon comes to The Palm restaurant on March 14, for a four course meal featuring Knob Creek Whiskey, all for $125 per person.  Reservations:  619-702-6500.

Point Loma now has truffles and chocolate, made daily at The Elegant Truffle, located on the north side of La Scala restaurant at the corner of Scott and Canon.  Owner Jennifer Marie Muratore hand dips seasonal fruit, makes luscious brownies and the cutest, tastiest espresso kisses, shaped like lips.  The store just opened last week, is closed on Sundays and open from 10am to 7pm the rest of the week.  619-222-1889.