By Frank Sabatini Jr.
San Diego’s barbecue scene is about to expand when Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill finishes remodeling the space previously occupied by Randy Jones All American Sports Grill at the Hazard Center in Mission Valley. The Moorpark, California, chain makes its local debut in May with ribs, steaks, brisket, burgers, poultry and fish cooked over oak fire. A full bar using freshly squeezed fruit juices will also be in place, along with “tailgate service” that allows customers to pick up their orders from the restaurant’s parking lot before heading to the ball parks. 7150 Hazard Center Drive, Suite 215, woodranch.com.
Vegans with a sweet tooth can feast on donuts free of animal products at Nomad Donuts, which just introduced several varieties using plant-based milks and shortenings in lieu of dairy. A few different flavors will rotate through the selection daily, such as ube-taro coconut and strawberry-raspberry lemonade. According to co-owner Brad Keiller, “You can barely tell the difference if you put them side by side to our non-vegan donuts.” 4504 30th St., 619-431-5000.
La Jolla has a new rooftop restaurant in the redesigned La Plaza Center at Wall and Girard streets. Launched by Whisknladle Hospitality, the 3,700-square-foot Catania gives diners a taste of coastal Italian cuisine, based on a two-week culinary road trip through Italy taken by owner Arturo Kassel and company chef Ryan Johnston plus subsequent visits they’ve made. Helming the kitchen is Executive Chef Vince Schofield, a San Francisco transplant who brings to the table quail with sage and prosciutto, clam pies, house-made pastas and Neapolitan-style pizzas. 7863 Girard Ave., 858-551-5105.
In an effort to gauge customer satisfaction on its food, Sabuku Sushi in Normal Heights has launched a monthly series of “sushi smackdowns” that allow guests to sample and rate 17 menu items for $35. The tasting includes things like “no-so-miso soup,” bite-size rolls, sashimi, desserts and more. Since starting the promotion a couple months ago, the restaurant’s bacon rolls have netted the highest points. The next smackdown is scheduled for 6 p.m., April 20. Also in the pipeline: Guest brewers are coming in once a month to match their suds to sushi rolls crafted specifically for those events. The lineup includes Stone Brewing Company on April 27 and Mother Earth Brew Company on May 18. Prices for the pairings range from $16 to $20. 3027 Adams Ave., 619-281-9700.
After many delays, the long-awaited Heart and Trotter has opened in North Park with a meat case stocked with various cuts of chicken, beef, lamb and pork. The whole-animal butchery launched a couple years ago as an online meat supplier by college pals Trey Nichols and James Holtslag. It has since relied partly on funds raised through Kickstarter before it could move into a retail space. In addition to raw meats, customers can also purchase pates and head cheese prepared in-house. A beer and wine license is in the works as well as butchering classes that will begin in a couple months. 2855 El Cajon Blvd., 619-564-8976.
What’s being touted as “the largest oceanfront sushi rooftop in San Diego” is Cannonball at Belmont Park in south Mission Beach, due to open April 1. Overlooking the boardwalk, the 9,400-square-foot space will be marked by aquatic-themed design elements and a glass-enclosed “sushi cube” for diners wishing to partake in traditional Japanese rolls. The restaurant will also feature an array of share plates capturing Pacific Rim specialties along with craft cocktails tailored to oceanfront lounging. 3105 Oceanfront Walk, 858-228-9304.
In honor of Mexico’s long-celebrated National Children Day (El Dia Del Niño), kids and teens 18 years or younger can land a free ice cream sundae from 11 a.m. to midnight, April 30 at Don Chido in the Gaslamp District. 527 Fifth Ave., 619-232-8226.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.