When in San Diego I wanted seafood, Mexican, and acai. Cucina Urbana [505 Laurel St, San Diego] is the sole restaurant which broke the mold, and I am so thankful I deviated from my path for this fantastical Italian restaurant! The joint is located a stone throw away from Balboa Park, and we luckily found a quiet spot with no time constraint or meter. Walking inside put an instantaneous smile on my face, the interior design is on point. So many different warm colors and patterns present,
and a hearth where fresh bread is baking. Speaking of that fresh bread, don’t skip on ordering the house made focaccia. It comes out warm topped with sea salt and herbs, it is a perfect size for two people. My most pressing recommendation is to order the squash blossoms! What a unique and gorgeously plated appetizer. Never having seen a squash blossom before, I was happily surprised with how it looks exactly like what it is, a beautiful flower atop a thick stalk. The stalk tasted fibrous and not too different from a celery stick. The blossom was stuffed with herb ricotta. The whole situation was delicately flash fried and rested on top of basil pesto and lemon aioli sauces. That creamy ricotta in the blossom with the crispy fry on top dipped into that sauce, heavenly. When we were finished with the blossoms we kept the plate to dip bits of our main course into that delectable sauce. For two people splitting the bread, the squash blossoms, and an entrée was perfect. The entrée we got was the jidori chicken accompanied by house made ricotta gnudi, pancetta, fava beans, and sherry jus. The gnudi was succulent and although this was under the ‘pasta’ section on the menu, the amount of pasta was not the bulk of the dish. This was fine for us as we had ordered bread and it wasn’t a huge carb overload, just something to be aware of. The chicken was moist and slathered in a tasty sauce. The fava beans and pancetta gave earthiness and saltiness, everything balanced together so well. We were unfortunately too stuffed to try dessert, but the table next to us ordered a beautiful gelato dish that was garnished with flowers. The food and atmosphere are matched with excellent service, this restaurant is not to be missed – especially if you are already near Balboa Park.