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Before and after of the Lasagna Bolognese, which comes to the table in a mold. Photos by David Boylan
ColumnsLick the Plate

A real scratch kitchen at Allmine in Oceanside

If you’ve read this column long enough you may recall me lamenting the less-than-authentic use of the term “scratch kitchen” or similar descriptions by restaurants in San Diego over the past 15 years during the culinary maturation of this market.

I bring this up as I was recently introduced to a restaurant in Oceanside that is actually walking the talk when it comes to making the effort to create as much as they possibly can in-house and putting out a menu that reflects that dedication and work ethic…because making food from scratch is not easy!

It’s called Allmine, and I was turned on to this fabulous addition to the Oceanside dining scene by Priscilla Lopez, owner of Studio 101 in Leucadia. On my regular visits to her charming studio for a haircut, the North County restaurant scene is always a topic of conversation.

She mentioned that her son Niko Perez is the sous pizza chef cranking out amazing scratch pizza at Allmine where the lasagna has also developed a cult following. That’s all I needed…and thanks, Priscilla!

Allmine owner-operator Roxana Pavel comes from a village in Romania where scratch cooking is the norm. Photo by David Boylan

The owner-operator is Roxana Pavel, a talented and delightful woman with an impressive hospitality resume who hails from a remote village in the mountains of Romania where scratch cooking was the norm.

Her grandmother was the unofficial lead cook for weddings, funerals and similar events, and she was always in charge of the women who gathered to cook for them. It was where Roxana’s sense of community and hospitality became woven in her approach to entertaining.

When she moved to the states after college she got a summer job on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod as a hostess and found her future. During that time she received her master’s in hospitality and tourism services from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and eventually moved to D.C. and opened and worked at a few fine dining establishments, including Blue Duck Tavern, at the time Hyatt’s only Michelin-star restaurant.

She ran restaurants, multiple units, reopened a resort during Covid and most recently was director of banquets at Hyatt Regency La Jolla.

As with many hospitality professionals, there was always a desire to combine her extensive business experience with her roots and passion and open her own place. A home purchase in Oceanside was followed soon after by the current location for Allmine opening up, and lucky us because the reality of her vision is a beauty.

Before I get into my dining experience I did want to share her take on why she adheres to the scratch kitchen concept as she put it so elegantly:

“It really is the only way I understand cooking. I think having grown up with it, I understand the simplicity of it. I am not saying it is easy, just simple and, of course, healthy.

“I explain to guests the simple process of making sausage and they look at me bewildered. I then invite them to check a label of any sausage at the grocery store to see all the ingredients that go in it. We ask so much of our body every day, why do we want it to process ingredients that it is not designed to?

“We make our food from scratch. Our dough, our sauce, our pasta, sausage, burrata, pesto, all the dressings, pickles, cannoli, cheesecake etc. If we can make it, we will!

“The dough is a three-day fermented dough that we start with a biga. There are few ways to start a dough, biga being one of them. The fermentation process allows for the dough and flavors to mature and for the gluten to become easier for the body to process. All it has is flour, water, yeast and salt.

“The flour we use is authentic Italian, organic. We have a lot of guests who have not been able to eat gluten previously and now frequent our restaurant at least weekly. I think the integrity of our ingredients and our processes as well as our consistency keeps them coming back. So don’t skip the gluten.”

I could not agree with her more, and please take the extra love and labor happening in their kitchen into consideration when indulging in a dining experience like Allmine.

Their pizza was my first taste as I popped in on my way home from work for a pie to go. All I can say is by the time I got to Leucadia from Oceanside there was one slice left. The house-made sausage was a treat, and the dough is world class. Enough said.

My second trip back was a full-on dinner experience with Captain Mark from Boundless Boat Charters. We went to town and sampled the Beets & Goat, the House Marinated Olives, Steak and Gnocchi and the famous Lasagna Bolognese.

All were very solid, and the lasagna is quite the presentation as a mold it is presented in is lifted up, which results in the lasagna spreading out on the plate. If you have the patience, I’d let the lasagna sit for a bit to solidify the cheese; that’s just a personal preference. We finished with a delightful house-made cannoli.

The beverage program is simple but stellar as well. The wines are all natural, meaning that they are made without any of many additives that are commonly found in grocery store wines. All of their beers are craft and local. They also have some fun non-alcoholic options, from n/a beers to prosecco, kombucha, tepache and craft Italian lemonades.

The chef and kitchen manager is Sid Hilarides and the manager is Addison Dvoracek, who, according to Roxana, are an essential part of creating the complete Allmine experience.

My suggestion is to take in this experience soon.


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