Adding to the roster of incoming tenants to Liberty Station are Nekter Juice Bar, a national chain, and Dirty Birds, a homegrown eatery rooted in Pacific Beach that specializes in chicken wings and craft beer. Both are due to take residence on the property this summer. In the meantime, look for March-April openings at Liberty Station of Fireside by the Patio, Liberty Public Market and Buona Forchetta, as well as Breakfast Republic in late spring. libertystation.com.
Brunch service was recently introduced at Vinavanti Urban Winery in Hillcrest. The menu was conceived by winemaker Eric Van Drunen and general manager Adrienne Goppold. Their dishes include a charcuterie plate; orange French toast with maple brandy sauce and almond cream; and the “S&P,” which is house-cured salmon accompanied by a curry potato pancake. In addition, all sparkling wines are $5 off. Brunch is served inside the winery and on the patio from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. 1477 University Ave., 619-484-6282, vinavantiurbanwinery.com.
As of March 2, Heat Bar & Kitchen in Hillcrest became Pardon My French Bar & Kitchen, a new venture by Eric Fillion and his wife, Lindsey. The couple recently purchased Heat from Sam Khorish and Pasqual Courtin, who opened the radiantly lit restaurant a few years ago after operating Urban Grind in the same space. “We love this place so much that we’re going to make only minor changes with the community in mind,” said Fillion, who plans on adding a “European vibe” through music, art, a boutique wine list, and a few French dishes that will include Croque-monsieur (and Madame) sandwiches and duck confit poutine. The Fillions have been active in the art world for the past several years in their efforts to spotlight various artists through social events at local hotels and restaurants. 3797 Park Blvd., 619-546-4328.
Smoked turkey legs, St. Louis-style ribs and candied sweet potatoes are among the down-home dishes that have arrived to the Gaslamp Quarter, via the new Bugsy’s BBQ. Helming the menu is Pitmaster Jacob Greene, an expert in regional barbecue who has worked in restaurants throughout the country specializing in smoked meats. House-made pies are also in the offing.
The restaurant, which was previously home to Urban Bar and Lounge, features an Old West theme boasting large flat screens and a full bar slinging unique cocktails such as smoked brisket martinis and the bourbon-based Lucky Luciano with pineapple juice and smoked lemon. 827 Fifth Ave., 619-235-8700, bugsysbbqsd.com
A sister restaurant to Manhattan of La Jolla opened recently in front of the Embassy Suites by Hilton at 601 Pacific Highway. Co-owner Brian O’Donnell says New York West is an informal version of his fine-dining La Jolla steakhouse and focuses on casual Italian dishes and New York-style thin-crust pizza. Complete with a full cocktail bar and 20 beer taps, the space’s Big Apple theme is still shaping up as O’Donnell plans on decorating further with black-and-white photographs of New York buildings and celebrities. 619-819-7091; nywsd.com.
Busalacchi Restaurants has closed its 12-year-old Po Pazzo in Little Italy to make way for Barbusa, which will replace traditional Italian dishes with “modern Sicilian” cuisine. The menu is still in the works, and the re-branded endeavor is slated to open sometime in May. 1917 India St., busalacchirestaurants.com.
—Frank Sabatini Jr can be reached at email@example.com.