Toast Enoteca & Cucina (Downtown)

Toast Enoteca

Chances are you’ve seen or passed by Toast Enoteca & Cucina in downtown San Diego before. It’s right around the corner from Petco Park and across the street from Basic. Have you tried it yet? Fortunately we got to taste what Toast Enoteca & Cucina has to offer, but I can’t help but kick myself for not trying it sooner.

Toast Enoteca Collage 2

There’s around 400 different wines to sip and indulge on throughout the restaurant. You can load money on wine cards to sample by the ounce, just like Splash and Mosaic in North Park. They also have a Coravin contraption that allows them to pour wine out of a bottle without uncorking it. It inserts a small needle and pressurizes the bottle with argon. The needle is then removed and the cork reseals. What this does is allow you to try more expensive bottles of wine without fear of it going bad right away.


There’s a few things to point out for anyone interested in lunch or perhaps a more complete three course off menu food and wine pairing. For lunch they offer an $8 special where you can get a half panino, soup, or small pizza with a salad. That’s really reasonable for lunch in downtown, especially coming from a nice sit down restaurant like this. Additionally, they have a “Supper Club Series” each Thursday where you can get a three course menu with wine pairing for $30. Once a month they feature something different like a guest chef or live music. According to their Facebook page, Chef Chad White of Común Kitchen and Tavern recently came over to do a collaboration with Chef Martin Gonzalez, owner and executive chef of Toast Enoteca & Cucina and Acqua al 2. That sounds like fun! You’re also given a card on your first supper club dinner giving you a two for one discount on the fourth dinner you attend. Now you might wonder what a guy with the last name Gonzalez is doing cooking Italian food. Well, he fell in love with Italian food after visiting Florence, Italy and trained under chef Stefano Innocenti of the original Acqua al 2 in Florence. It turned out to be a lasting passion as he brought Acqua al 2 over here in 2000 and subsequently opened Toast Enoteca & Cucina in 2010.


They change their menu with the seasons and are currently offering a few new dishes that weren’t yet on the menu when we visited them. Our Insalata di Cavolo, Fragola e Pecorino had kale, strawberries, pecorino cheese and an aged balsamic vinaigrette. Lately I’ve been eating kale more often and even started to juice it. After enjoying this I may heavily favor the salad version versus the juiced. Any bitterness you normally get from kale was offset by the sweet strawberries, the sharp and salty pecorino, and the deep sour, and thick balsamic vinaigrette. Each bite seemingly had just the right amount of strawberry, dressing, and pecorino to balance things out up until the not so bitter end.


Pictured above is a combination of the Salumi Misti, Assaggio di Formaggi, and the Prosciutto di Parma + Dates. Normally these are three separate Antipasti courses, but they put them all together for us. I believe the other meats were salami, speck, and prosciutto. We were also served brie, smoked gouda, and manchego cheeses. And finally our dipping pleasures were honey and a raspberry compote along with the dates in a balsamic reduction. Whew! That is a packed plate with endless varieties. The Prosciutto di Parma with dates was incredible. The meat itself is so delicate and salty good. Coupled with the dates it formed a powerful duo. I rarely eat dates but this is one of the few occasions I flip flopped. Another favorite was the manchego dipped in honey. I’m reeling over how each played off each other so well. 
Toast Enoteca Collage 3

I can’t say I was excited for cauliflower. The Cavolfiore al Forno comes roasted with tomato and garlic sauce, topped with Grana Padano cheese. I am so glad humans are emotional beings and one taste can turn the tides in a flash. The cauliflower tasted fresh and vibrant! Along with the cheese, tomato and garlic sauce, it danced around my palate ever so gently, but in a bold “I know I’m cauliflower and you’re loving me” attitude. The kitchen decided what to bring us throughout the meal. This is always a great idea because we get to try things we never would have ordered ourselves. DSC_0023

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese was made with fresh homemade pasta and a tasty tomato and meat sauce. The beef wasn’t your typical ground beef variety, but instead had thin, soft chunks of beef throughout. If you like pasta cooked on the upper scale of al dente then this is the place for you. There was a little resistance when chewing the pasta, and normally I would have liked it softer. For whatever reason on this day I didn’t have a problem with it. Maybe it worked because they were pacing us and didn’t bring out a full sized portion. My only small gripe was there could have been a little bit more sauce.

Toast Enoteca Collage 4
Our last course before dessert came in the form of a lasagna with duck ragu, chard kale, and parmesan. This one was quite different than the previous wet, tomato heavy flavors we just consumed. Even though it had no tomato sauce, the ooey gooey smoothness from the melted cheese made up for it. Michael slightly favored this one because of its uniqueness. Hints of kale came out every once in a while, while the duck played a more prominent role. I preferred the tagliatelle, mostly because I can never get enough tomato sauce. 

We finished off with the Italian bread pudding made with amaretto and topped with pannacotta gelato. We were starting to get stuffed, and might have enjoyed this a little more had we had more room in our stomachs. The amaretto flavor came through and held us in its comforting arms until we got the energy to get up and depart. As we were napping resting in our chairs, I noticed Chef Martin Gonzalez hanging out at the bar talking with his staff. It’s always nice to see the face behind the restaurant and does help make the experience come full circle. The staff had a lot to share with us and it was easy to tell from the start they were fans of Toast Enoteca & Cucina themselves. Thank you to Samya, the staff, and Chef Martin Gonzalez for inviting us into the restaurant. We enjoyed ourselves!

Toast Enoteca & Cucina
927 J Street
San Diego, CA 92101
TOAST Enoteca & Cucina on Urbanspoon

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About Darren

Fooood! I love it if you can't tell already. I love everything about it. The taste, the smell, the look, the feel, the satisfaction, the gratification, and ultimately: the fun! I've been in San Diego for about 10 years now and it amazes me that there are still places to uncover. Traveling, eating, and taking pictures of food has always been a hobby of mine. So naturally Michael and I thought it made sense to share what we found with all of you. I tend to side with the savory but never shy away from a knock out dessert. If you have a place you think we haven't tried let us know! We're always on the lookout...

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