Best Italian in Liberty Station
Recently, I was in Italy dining with Master Italian Chef Mario Cassineri. No wait, I was actually at Officine Buona Forchetta in Liberty Station, which is located in the Point Loma community of San Diego. Cooking from the heart, Cassineri serves up simple but universal dishes that remind me of my Italian home, initiating comfort food memories that will last a lifetime.
Restaurant founder Matteo Cattaneo joined forces with Cassineri (executive chef and partner of BiCE), to launch Officine Buona Forchetta. Driven by authentic Italian-inspired dishes, the menu draws from the original Buona Forchetta location in South Park, including their hard to beat Neapolitan-style pies, as well as upscale Northern Italian entree and dessert selections overseen by chefs Mario Cassineri, Francesca Peroncelli and Fernando Gorrino.
Two iconic gold-tiled pizza ovens are run by five-time Pizza World Champion and Pizzaiolo Marcello Avitabile. Named for Matteo’s parents, ovens Augusta and Sergio churn out new Neapolitan creations, including Pizza Al Metro, a two-foot long pie customizable for sharing, while Augusta will be responsible for solely gluten-free items. In the main kitchen, entrées include a build-it-yourself pasta bowl and chef-driven meat and seafood dishes.
Dessert is overseen by Chef Francesca, where her line-up of mostly gluten-free sweets include Officine’s signature Cremoso al Cioccolato e Nocciola, a chocolate crème topped with 24 karat gold leaf.
The cocktail menu draws heavily from traditional Italian spirits, utilizing grappa and Campari to create a classic yet approachable line-up of sippers, while the wine and beer list features a rotating selection of Italian labels.
The 200-seat space includes a 1,500-square foot patio in front and a 1,000-square foot family-friendly patio with custom built playground in the rear.
The intimate interior is dominated by three separate stations: the bar, pizza station, and main kitchen, with bright red seating positioned around each to give patrons the opportunity to watch the pizzaiolos and chefs at work.
Industrial seating, hand-drawn murals and found objects add depth and intrigue to the restaurant, including antique farming tools gifted from Cassineri’s grandmother, a classic Vespa perched atop the bar, and a vintage Fiat that’s been converted into a table for two.