During our most recent check-in with chef Christophe Cevasco last summer, he was hitting his stride with Beeside Balcony, a second-story refuge replete with creative Mediterranean cuisine in the heart of Del Mar. When asked about the future, he was buzzing about the prospect of recreating the Beeside Balcony concept in nearby La Jolla. Six months later, he’s instead expanded by literally walking downstairs, taking over the restaurant directly below his flagship eatery and converting it into Cevasco’s, a spot honoring his Italian heritage.
Annexing the space long occupied by Prepkitchen Del Mar (which closed at the onset of the pandemic) wasn’t the only in-house growth. In doing so, Cevasco lured his wife, Guenevere, the longtime GM at Eddie V’s (where Cevasco was managing partner for nearly a decade before leaving to open Beeside) to oversee their double-decked dual interests. Both hail from the East Coast, where Italian food often manifests as mountains of liberally sauced pasta. Understanding that a significant percentage of diners in and around their coastal community adore big flavor but abhor carb bombs, they set out to appeal to that clientele.
A pair of crudos delivers well-married flavors in a lightweight package. Thin-sliced scallops are dressed with mango, radish, and pickled cucumber, while spicy Fresno chile (red jalapeño) match the saltiness of a (definitively un-Italian) ponzu for yellowtail tuna (hamachi). Oysters and littleneck clams are available on the half shell alongside a shrimp cocktail. And salads abound, ranging from the kale-and-pancetta Toscana and a classic Caesar to a burrata-based Caprese and a warm chèvre-and-arugula option.
Even heartier apps like home-style beef-and-pork meatballs in house-made barbecue sauce (which pairs exceptionally well with an almond-infused Old Fashioned from the cocktail menu) are served in manageable portions and augmented by sweet and tangy roasted peppers, priming one for what’s to come. Those meaty, herb-packed spheres also make a cameo in Cevasco’s Spaghetti alla Bolognese.
For those who feel no Italian feast is complete without bread, order it grilled with olive tapenade butter, Parmesan, and herbed dipping oil, or topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, and an aged balsamic. It also accompanies a charcuterie board stocked with prosciutto, soppressata, soft robiola cheese, and truffle honey; an Italiano iteration of an offering that’s a proven hit upstairs.
Il bordo isn’t the only riff on a Beeside staple. A scallop entrée with pancetta and a star anise-spiked carrot purée is deliciously reminiscent of a similar scallop dish from the progenitor featuring chorizo and mango-citrus sauce.
A whole roasted branzino in a lemon-caper sauce is proving an early favorite among diners. Halibut served piccata-style (white wine, lemon, and capers) and sesame-crusted ahi round out the robust seafood offerings
On the carnivore front, a grilled ten-ounce filet mignon or bone-in prime ribeye can be ordered with choice of peppercorn, garlic, or gorgonzola butter. They can also be ordered “Oscar-style” with blue crab meat, asparagus, and hollandaise, or, if one so desires, a broiled lobster tail. There’s also a trio of breaded, cheese-ensconced, choose-your-own Parmigiana options: chicken, veal, and eggplant. And vegetarian yet decadent are fried gnocchi that are coated in golden Maillard goodness and served with a generous dressing of pesto with pine nut prominence.
Lightened up yet packed with flavor, while mixing tradition with touches of the West Coast, Cevasco’s is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and has a little something for just about every fan of Italian cooking. 858.755.0000, cevascos.com
Culinary Innovation: 4
Food Quality: 4
Wine List: 4
Beer List: 3
Craft Cocktail Program: 4