A Touch Of Tuscany Comes To Lake Murray

LAKE MURRAY -- It is not just the four foot outdoor flames that make the Vine Cottage on Lake Murray Boulevard stand out.
There's stone work and artful carpentry and, for the wine obsessed, the kind of vintage selections not usually associated with La Mesa's northern reaches.
The vine Cottage is, in fact, a touch of Tuscany in a strip plaza locale. Surrounded by fast food joints and an eclectic mix of retail and office space, this restaurant is delightfully out of place.
"Someone had to be first,'' said Cervantes Magana, The Vine Cottage's sommelier. Probably the only one with that job title in the entire zip code.
La Mesa's mayor, Art Madrid, was joined on Wednesday by the Chamber of Commerce leaders and other local notables in celebrating the official grand opening of a restaurant and wine bar that is clearly trying to make a statement. Not since Gio's opened in downtown La Mesa has an establishment made this kind of impression.
This stretch of Lake Murray Boulevard at 6062, just west of Dallas, has been more Jack In The Box territory. The Vine Cottage, the brainchild of Fadi Kalasho and his uncle Zaidan Yousif looks like an island of Sonoma County planted in suburban La Mesa.
Kalasho, 37, who also owns Banbu Sushi on Fletcher Parkway, describes the cuisine as California modern and credits his chef and professional staff, including Magana, for getting the restaurant off to a good start.
Yousif, who immigrated to the U.S. from Iraq 21 years ago, is also a veteran restaurant owner. He also owns the Grecian Cafe, a successful little restaurant in Spring Valley.
Both Kalasho and Yousif welcomed La Mesa's leadership on Wednesday but already had a healthy group of regulars who were wondering what all the picture-taking and ribbon-cutting was about.
Magana said the staff takes pride in bringing a new style of dining to this neighborhood. Magana also was part of a pioneering group of restaurateurs who opened The Guild, a stylish effort in other-wise rough and tumble Barrio Logan a few years back.

"We like to bring good things to new neighborhoods,'' Magana said. "You don't have to drive into Mission Valley or the Gaslamp to find a place like this now.'' 

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Tags: Business, La Mesa Chamber of Commerce, The Vine Cottage

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