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Oh what a mess has been wrought with the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant, owner Joseph Melluso, chef Amy DiBiase and the Union-Tribune’s, Keli Dailey.  This is a sordid story about editors and a reporter looking to sensationalize a story with writing that gives all parties, most notably the readers, a bad taste and does not help the San Diego restaurant community.

For those of you who missed it, Buzz reported on November 5 that DiBiase (whom Buzz knows) had left Cosmopolitan.  Next came Dailey’s one-sided story (relying only on owner Joseph Melluso) that appeared online on November 10, then the next day, in edited form, printed in the Business section of the paper. Melluso said (among other things) that there were financial and creative issues that caused the split.  Missing in the story is any acknowledgement that he, as the owner, had anything to do with the problems.

As a seeming consequence of the many negative online comments about the U-T story, either Dailey or her editors must have thought it wise to connect and interview DiBiase, as the original Dailey “story” noted, “DiBiase could not be reached Wednesday evening for comment”.  When Dailey did catch up to DiBiase the “rest of the story” – that is, her side of it — can be found online (and so far not in print).

Why run a half-reported story?  And more important, it seems that lately the U-T has resorted to old-fashioned tabloid journalism to report on such restaurant matters.  Restaurants open and close, chefs come and go, and any major newspaper notes such things in just a few paragraphs.  But the U-T has recently evolved into gotcha journalism, with the snarky story about Roseville closing, then this mess.

Buzz checked to see if the paper ever ran anything when Jeff Thurston left the Cohn’s Prado where he had been for many, many years. Nothing. Why? By contrast, the recent change of chefs at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego merits a mention in Dailey’s online column (which is at should be, a few sentences at best).

So what gives?  What purpose did Dailey’s story serve to the public, to the restaurant or to the chef or even to the owner?  No purpose at all except to harm the business and reputations of those involved.

7 thoughts on “The SD Union-Tribune Dishes Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant

  1. Interestingly, Chef Amy and the Cosmopolitan are mentioned in this month’s Food and Wine Magazine, including a recipe from Chef Amy. Isn’t this also why you hire a chef of Amy’s caliber.

  2. I agree with the previous poster. Saw the Food and Wine article after reading the U-T and thought exactly the same thing.

  3. I am still giggling about the U-T article. It doesn’t shed Chef Amy DiBiase in a bad light. I can just imagine her staff having to sign up for a turn with the one whisk Mr. Melluso wanted to restrict her to. At what point do you stand back and let the professional do her job?

  4. The journalism may indeed be suspect, but DiBiase’s food deserves no defense. Roseville was crap through and through. No complaints about the service there, but this chef deserves no accolades. We tried many dishes – not a one was very good, some not even palatable. San Diego doesn’t need the pretension of another culinary con artist. Good riddance.

  5. In response to Incredulous’ comment about the quality of Amy DiBiase’s food all I can say is that Amy has received high praise in the San Diego culinary scene for as long as she has been on it. If you find her food to be inadequate you are vastly in the minority. And at this point in time I have to ask “where do you dine?” The answer to that question may say it all.

  6. @foodbuzz and rollergirl: I don’t have a single favorite, but recently, I’ve enjoyed Alchemy, Harney Sushi, and Yakitori Yakyudori. I thought Bite was very good before they closed, though their service was marginal. I really liked Alexander’s, but haven’t been in a long time, and I seem to recall their quality slipping a tad. A bit higher up on the chain, I thought 1500 Ocean and Market were great. And I don’t mind being in the minority.


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