Opening Alert: CUCINA enoteca at Fashion Island

Opening Alert: CUCINA enoteca at Fashion IslandAs a leader in Southern California’s culinary landscape for the last 19 years, celebrated proprietor, restaurateur and interior designer Tracy Borkum is proud to announce the official opening of CUCINA enoteca, an 8,300-square-foot restaurant and wine shop located at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. A year in the making, the brand new California-inspired Italian kitchen and wine shop opens its doors to the public on August 20 and is the fourth location of the Urban Kitchen Group’s nationally renowned CUCINA brand (San Diego-2009, Irvine-2011, Del Mar-2013).

“Newport Beach’s culinary scene is re-emerging with some of the country’s most notable chefs and restaurant groups, and we’re inspired to bring our original concept to the area,” says Borkum. “This is our second location in Orange County, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the response we’ve received as we continue to grow in this area of Southern California.”

Leading a respected and experienced team of award-winning industry professionals at the brand new Orange County location, Borkum once again presents guests with her trademark combination of innovative cuisine and cutting-edge design. Urban Kitchen Group’s Executive Chef Joe Magnanelli (Lespinasse, Bistrot Lepic, El Bizcocho, Laurel) and Orange County native and Chef de Cuisine Brent Omeste (Alessá, Charlie Palmer) take the lead in the kitchen, putting a fresh, California spin on rustic Italian fare. CUCINA enoteca’s menu turns out inventive iterations of luxurious pastas, antipasti, creative pizzas and plates small and large, along with fresh crudos and Chef’s whim seasonal specials. Wine Director Ed Manetta, a fifteen year wine industry veteran who is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, heads up the venue’s esteemed wine shop. The diverse wine program features more than 250 familiar names and rare, small-batch varietals for guests to purchase at a retail price, either to enjoy with their meal for a minimal corkage fee or to take to go.

Complete with communal seating, a spacious bar area and intimate table settings, the interior design at CUCINA’s Newport Beach location draws inspiration from a bohemian garden, manifesting a light and airy palette with pops of vibrant floral patterns and earthy elements. The space also features an expansive alfresco patio with a cozy fireplacethe perfect relaxing atmosphere to enjoy handcrafted specialty cocktails, hard-to-find Italian artisan beers, or a fine varietal from the wine shop. The new location boasts the CUCINA brand’s same unique and highly curated “restaurant to retail” environment — if diners are inspired by their surroundings, the restaurant offers nearly everything in the venue for sale, including the customized furniture, lighting and decor.

Borkum will continue a major brand expansion for the Urban Kitchen Group; over the course of the next decade, she plans to launch additional CUCINA concepts across the nation. In keeping with the company’s philosophy of integrity and superior quality, growth will be deliberate and purposeful in markets that match her ideals.


Additional Details on CUCINA enoteca Newport Beach:

CUCINA enoteca Lunch + Dinner Menus | 
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Hours of Operation:
Sunday — Thursday | 11:30am — 10pm
Friday — Saturday | 11:30am — 11pm

Happy Hour
Daily | 
3pm — 6pm
$3 Moretti drafts + $5 well cocktails + $5 daily wine selections + $5 sangria

CUCINA enoteca’s striking interior comes under the direction of Borkum, who is equally known for her impressive design as she is for her award-winning cuisine. Along with in-house interior designer and retail buyer Monika Crawford, Borkum drew inspiration from the garden, manifesting a light and airy palette with pops of vibrant floral patterns. Earthy elements such as hand-carved woodwork, twig and branch chandeliers, and whimsical flower wallpaper draw the outdoors in, while a cozy fireplace brings warmth to the alfresco patio. The design duo also incorporated the collective’s signature emphasis on custom made furnishings, recycled and repurposed materials, and procured vintage treasures such as wooden shoe forms, gardening tools and antique basins that now house botanicals and greenery—all of which were hand selected or designed by Borkum herself. A massive wall mural by Southern California graffiti artist, Tocayo, adds an urban element with hues of pink, green, yellow and Italian words scrawled in bright blue over large blooms.

Borkum continues to take restaurant retail to an entirely new level by offering diners nearly everything for sale within this venue, including the furniture and lighting. After responding to constant requests from patrons wanting to know where she procured her eclectic array of vintage finds in her first three CUCINA concepts, Borkum continues with the Urban Kitchen Shop—an online marketplace where the natural born picker’s fans can cull through her handpicked treasures and furnish their own spaces with her trademark warmth. In addition, if guests are inspired by their surroundings while dining at the restaurant, everything can be ordered immediately from a menu at the host stand. Stocked with orange wire bend chairs, hand-screened aprons, vintage chicken feeders and everything in between, the carefully curated emporium is not only a rustic-inclined decorator’s dream, it’s an incubator and platform for local designers. Both the shop and the restaurants themselves feature unique wares designed by Borkum herself, or are sourced exclusively from an impressive roster of California creatives.

Under the inspired direction of Urban Kitchen Group’s Executive Chef Joe Magnanelli—a natural culinary savant whose Italian heritage and experience in both classic bastions of East Coast luxury (Lespinasse, Bistro Lepic) and small, family-owned eateries—the menu combines the flavors of italian classics with the organic freshness of California. The culinary curriculum of CUCINA enoteca brings a fresh option to Fashion Island, and a portion of the menu is completely exclusive to the Newport Beach location. CUCINA enoteca also continues to develop an ambitious in-house cheese program, house made charcuterie and sausage, stuff fried squash blossoms ,and sausage, hand crafted confections, and a selection of artisanal breads and pastas prepared from scratch.

Leading the day-to-day kitchen operations as Chef de Cuisine is Orange County native Brent Omeste, an up and coming culinary talent who initially worked at CUCINA’s Irvine location from 2011-2012 as an Executive Sous Chef to Magnanelli. Omeste has also spent time developing his skills working directly for Charlie Palmer at Charlie Palmer Restaurant in Costa Mesa as well as a corporate chef with Galardi Group in Irvine.

CUCINA enoteca’s in-house wine shop spans throughout the front of the restaurant, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of a bona fide gallery. Mirroring owner Tracy Borkum’s inviting design and affinity for the eclectic, Wine Director Ed Manetta has created a balanced, highly edited, and ever-changing wine list. Comprising over 250 familiar names and rare, small-batch gems from the Americas and Europe, CUCINA presents an emphasis on Italian varietals—promising something for everyone from the novice taster to the seasoned oenophile. Manetta, a wine veteran with 15 years of industry experience, is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers and will soon enter the Master of Wine program—the most coveted title in the wine industry. CUCINA enoteca’s dedicated wine shop allows guests to purchase hand-selected wines at a retail price, either to enjoy with their meal for a minimal corkage fee or to take to go.