Friday, October 28, 2005 | Every once in a while it’s fun to trip down memory lane when it comes to dining. Among the varied choices we have for restaurants in San Diego, some are institutions in that they have been here seemingly forever. The moment you set foot in the door of these old timers, you know that nothing has changed – the food is consistent and that comfy booth is just that. Moreover, the staff knows you … and remembers what you always order. Recently, close friends and I went to their favorite rainy day lunch spot – Old Trieste, a New York style Italian restaurant. Other friends go there for dinner with their aging “auntie” who loves her martinis and the place still attracts politicos for lunch.

Walk into this dark wood paneled restaurant and bar and you turn back the clock 40-plus years. Owner Larry Tomicich (who was 7 years old when his dad opened the restaurant), smartly dressed in a tux, warmly greets his guests at the door. My friends have gone there for years and confessed they never have looked at a menu, as Larry quietly asked if we wanted a white wine and returned with a moderately priced bottle of Louis Jadot’s white burgundy. Feather-light fried zucchini came as a nibble with our wine. Meanwhile, I scanned the menu with a northern Italian emphasis. Dishes include sea bass with lemon and white wine sauce (the dish my friends always have) and fried shrimp (other pals swoon over these), sautéed chicken livers with mushrooms in a light wine sauce (my choice), chicken, veal and filet mignon along with a few pasta dishes. A small side of pasta cooked al dente with a light meat sauce comes with the entree. The food is good, uncomplicated and straightforward with attentive and unobtrusive service from Larry and another server who has been there for years. They effortlessly work the entire room that seats about 50. Old Trieste, 2335 Morena Blvd., San Diego, (619) 276-1841. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Tidbits: NineTen‘s chef Jason Knibb and pastry chef Jack Fisher now have Steve Salazar and Ted Glennon to beef up service and wine. Salazar assumes responsibility for the restaurant’s catering and banquet services and will develop and implement service and training standards. Glennon, as the first director of wine for the restaurant, will cultivate and evolve the restaurant’s already recognized award-winning wine program to include winemaker dinners, tastings and other special events. NineTen, 910 Prospect St., La Jolla, (858) 964-5400. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Wine Vault & Bistro just opened on India Street at Washington Street above Saffron. Owners Chris and Mary Gluck (you remember them from Pasta Press) spent a year building a terrific space to hold his wine and food pairing events. Wine Vault & Bistro, 3731 A India St., Mission Hills, (619) 295-3939.

Bacchus Wine Market and Tasting Room, will offer a Sunday tasting of older Italian wines, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 30. Cost is $20. 647 G St., (619) 236-0005.

Reliable sources report that with the upcoming sale of the Del Mar Marriott, the new owners plan to keep the award-winning and nationally acclaimed restaurant Arterra. The hotel is considered a flagship property. Don’t’ be surprised, however, if there is some belt tightening, typical of a new owner.

Marcie Rothman loves good food – no matter where it’s cooked – at home, a hole in the wall or a white tablecloth restaurant. Known as The $5 Chef on radio, television and in her two cookbooks, Marcie travels far and near with an eye on what’s current in food. You can find her at

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