A dramatic dining delight has come to San Diego. It’s the first West Coast location for Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, the nationally acclaimed restaurant with a tasty looking waterfront panoramic view in the Embarcadero District.
Del Frisco’s brings sophisticated class, always welcome in “America’s Finest City.” It spotlights a big, bold menu spearheaded by prime beef, with flavors that expand the tasting experience.
We’ll get to our menu selections further into the column. What attracted me was the nationally acclaimed wine selections, created by Wine Director Faith Fulginiti. You get instant evidence that this is not your father’s wine cellar, when you ascend a staircase of Italian marble steps with glass walls on either side, housing more than 7,000 bottles of temperature-controlled wine, to enter the dining room. This creates a wine display visible from almost every seat.
I had experienced Del Frisco’s palate popping wine list when I was a frequent visitor to the Dallas downtown district where Del Frisco’s is the go-to dining spot for big cut steaks. At a family dinner, I was offered a bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet from the winery’s founding vintage, 2007, for $10,000. This wine is considered to be a leading edge brand for the “cult” status of Napa Valley Cabernets, and points to the depth of the wine program for Del Frisco’s. The San Diego location under the management of Faith Fulginiti, has amassed 10,000 bottles with over 1,400 varietals.
Fulginiti has two decades of hospitality experience. For the past nine years, she was head bartender and sommelier at Del Frisco’s flagship restaurant in New York City and was instrumental in gaining a Wine Spectator Grand Award, the highest level distinction for a restaurant with a superior wine collection.
We sat down with her recently and she expressed satisfaction with getting out of New York City. “We were serving about 1,200 diners a night, a tremendous accomplishment. San Diego is more a relaxed format and I’ve put a lot of love into the wine list. It’s my baby.” I asked her how the restaurant can manage such a large amount of choices.
“We always have two sommeliers on staff to educate and guide our guests through the list. Do you like fruit forward, earthy, high acid, aged, full bodied? We carefully show them what they are can try. It’s meant to be a fun adventure and a journey. In the front of the book are featured selections that pair well with menu items. If a glass of wine will do, we have over 30 selections and we just added a 2006 Dom Perignon Champagne. Our by- the-glass program allows diners to try a brand before they buy a bottle. We have many of the great names in California wine, as well as Italy, France and Spain.
“I’ve also chosen some Guadalupe Valley Baja names. Our goal is to cover all the wine countries in the world. We recently added wines from Lebanon and Greece. We have house wine with the Del Frisco’s brand. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon made by the great Paul Hobbs of Sonoma and Napa Valley.” I asked Fulginiti what she enjoys when the work day is done. “When I relax after hours, it depends on my mood. It may be a fine glass of French champagne, but I have a love affair with Italian Amarone Valpolicella (a red blended wine from the Veneto region). It stirs my soul, a true gem,” she exclaimed.
Food menus have their own story. I usually stay with what I know so that brought me to Del’s Jumbo Crab Cake for the 1st course. It had a delicious Cajun Lobster cream sauce placed like frosting on a cake. Paired with it was a familiar wine, the 2017 Dr Loosen German Riesling Blue Slate.
A Burgundy Chablis graced the crispy bright Blue Cheese Lettuce Wedge. The iceberg lettuce was chilled to perfection and crackled as it was bitten into. The same with the cherry tomatoes, bacon and Danish blue cheese dressing. Our shared main course, a Double Eagle 45-day dry-aged double-bone 32-ounce Prime Ribeye is an over-the-top culinary experience that is carved at the table to the diner’s exact proportions. This menu selection is $140, plus a wide choice of seasonal sides.
The wine that is a perfect companion is the Del Frisco “house” 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon made by the legendary winemaker Paul Hobbs from Napa Valley and Sonoma. There are 17 Del Frisco locations nationwide open for lunch and dinner. Reservations on line at delfriscos.com or by calling (619) 272-5060.
- Parc Bistro-Brasserie in San Diego is having a Steven Kent Wine Dinner, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Jan. 16. This is a five-course gourmet menu with the winemaker Steven Kent. Price is $99 per person. RSVP at (619) 795-1501 or at parcbb.com.
- Carruth Cellars is hosting Corks for Cause at their Little Italy Wine Garden location in San Diego from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 17. It is partnering with Rescue Express in Rancho Santa Fe that saves animal lives. Twenty percent of the sales proceeds that evening will be donated to this cause. For more, call (858) 876-7027.
- The Craftsman in Encinitas has their first wine dinner of the year at 6 p.m. Jan. 23 featuring owner John Fones of Cellars 33 winery. This five-course custom dinner features Espresso Crusted Sirloin with a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, one of five wines served. Cost is $65 each. Call Mike at (760) 452-2000.