Officine Buona Forchetta

BiCE is nice, and Buona Forchetta is excellent, so this concept that’s materializing down the street from Fireside by the Patio in Liberty Station is worthy of following on a separate thread, IMO. Not open yet, but hopefully soon. I may not be the first person in the door when they do open, but I won’t delay for long. Sounds like a winner in the making.

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Sounds like a more casual version of Buona Forchetta, even though Buona Forchetta is pretty casual to begin with.

On the Officine Buona Forchetta concept…
Mario: I want to show people you can do good food like they do in Italy without spending so much money. BiCE is different; it has a lot of wines and rent to pay and this “fine dining” name. But I believe more in “fun dining”—good food in a fun environment and affordable for families. This is what San Diego needs—more family restaurants.
Matteo: We have families; we know how it is. When you go out, you want to bring your kids, but at the same time, you want to sit down, enjoy your wine. Officine has a family-oriented back patio where parents can sit while their kids play. In the front, we’ll try to keep customers who maybe don’t want to have dinner while a kid is screaming.

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Yes, it couldn’t be too much more casual than Buona Forchetta in South Park. To me, the intriguing thing, though, is that they plan to bring the high quality of BiCE as well as some of the items from the Buona Forchetta menu to the table, at affordable prices. They say that “BiCE” was deliberately omitted from the name of this new jointly-created venue so as to not scare off people looking for a relatively inexpensive meal.

Looks from Eater’s article today like a very cool spot. I’m happy to hear that opening is now imminent.

Yes, they’d been talking about opening on Wednesday, and there was a reception a few days ago, so it was obviously time to open the curtains. We’re going to try to grab a table here sometime this weekend. The place is sure big enough!

We went to Liberty Station expecting Officine Buona Forchetta to be packed, and it was just that when we arrived for a mid-day meal today. The hostess searched outside and in for a two-top, but there were none to be had. She offered, however, to seat us at a counter that’s directly in front of the semi-enclosed kitchen. To us, those were the best seats in the house.

It was like watching the itamae at a fine sushi bar. We recognized Mario, the owner of Bice and a co-owner of OBF. All the others in the kitchen were clearly the A-Team. For having been open only a few days, this was a class act, a tight-knit operation. The teamwork and professionalism in the kitchen were a joy to observe as we dined. Service was flawless as well, even though we were at the counter, and needless to say we enjoyed all aspects of our small meal.

The restaurant has most of its seating outdoors, including a separate area in the back for families with small children – which was full of families with small children. The other outdoor area is much larger and in the front. I was surprised to see that the interior of the restaurant itself has so few tables. We liked the atmosphere a lot, but it’s mostly hard surfaces. So my theory is that this was deliberate, because there’s lots of space inside. Perhaps managing the number of indoor diners helps to keep the noise level tolerable.

My companion ordered a glass of house red, and I a glass of red sangria. Both were very generous, especially for the price. The sangria was different than what I’ve had in other places, quite dry and with some background spice that we couldn’t identify, maybe a touch of anise? In any case, it was very good.

We ordered a Rustica salad and Arrosticini. Mario seemed in very good spirits, and we had a few chatty exchanges over the glass partition. He then surprised us by comping a plate called Burrata Caprese, which he passed to me directly over the glass.

All three things were excellent, and we shared. One thing that struck us was the very high quality of the ingredients. Every single thing seemed special.

The Arrosticini (long thin strips of lamb on skewers) were served in a ceramic jug that Mario said was made in Italy with their logo on it. The jug was on its side on a plate, with the skewers and some tiny halved red potatoes inside. Plus fresh greens. Lamb doesn’t get more tender than this; the potatoes were tasty; and the presentation, well, very unique.

The Rustica salad is one of their most popular menu items, according to their website. Excellent prosciutto, outstanding olives and artichokes, and a delicious mix of other ingredients with an ever-so-delicate slightly tangy dressing.

I’ve never before had buratta, so the Burrata Caprese plate was a new experience. I initially thought it was some kind of dip for the bread that came with it, but no, it’s a type of cheese that’s almost but not quite runny (no, not like brie), with an interesting, odd texture. It was so very fresh and the plate also came with fragrant basil, tomato slices and greens.

As we were leaving, Mario introduced us to Mateo, the owner of Buona Forchetta in South Park, who also seemed very upbeat. He had been working in an area near the entrance, and wasn’t in the kitchen while we were there.

We’re interested in so many other things on the menu, and it’ll take time to drill down through them. But this is a place we’ll return to often.

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Burrata is mozzarella with cream and stracciatella inside

Thanks. Yes, I’ve read about it now. This is certainly a very unusual kind of cheese. We enjoyed it but at first didn’t quite know what to do with it!

I am surprised that you didn’t have it before as it seems to be on most restaurant menus the last five years

There are a lot of things I haven’t had yet, Honk. Maybe I’ve seen it on menus but didn’t know what it was, so never ordered.

We discovered a genuine dining value in town today when we had lunch with three relatives at Officine Buona Forchetta. All five of us ordered from their M-F “fixed price” lunch menu. The sense of “fixed price” here is that any one of the dozens of possible combinations among appetizers, main courses, and drinks (coffee, iced tea, milk) are the same price: $14.

Such a deal! We all had salads. There are two offered for lunch and both were impressive. No, not served on a 6" platter as we expected, these “small salads” were in pretty decent-sized rectangular bowls; what I’d call full-sized. Really generous servings, and both kinds were excellent.

The abundance didn’t end there.

The penne pasta with pesto sauce was huge, so big that our 16-yr old hungry guest couldn’t eat half of it. The salmon with butter sauce (which I had) was delicious.

The pizzas were OK, but not as good as what you get at Buona Forchetta in South Park. Of the five of us, three had these, all different.

Our server said they were 6" pizzas when we ordered. No way. Even with the outer crust removed, the inside must have been at least 8".

My companion and I ordered house chardonnay, only $7 a glass and a nice choice. (I think it was Bogle, which, by the way, has a terrific cabernet for the money.)

Very good, competent service.

Highly recommended if you’re there during the week.

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Had lunch a few days ago at OBF and it was very underwhelming. We had two salads (chicken and mixed seafood) and both didn’t have good dressing, dry meat and laughable seafood. The pesto pasta was average and more about quantity than quality (not homemade pasta, oily pesto). Overall avoid in the future

Are you back (I hope) or just visiting?

I think you have your answer, DD.