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Poggio Le Volpi
Micol Minneppi is the U.S. brand ambassador for the Italian winery Poggio Le Volpi in the district of Lazio, Italy. She is presenting the 2016 Roma Rosso. Photo by Nancine Belfiore
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: More restaurants, wineries get proactive to save themselves

At this writing, the world is in its 89th day of the coronavirus crisis.

Over 3 million U.S. workers, out of a job, flooded the unemployment offices this past week with more expected next week.  There are many moving parts to this fight with this unseen enemy. Last week, this column called on all its readers to contact their favorite restaurants for food takeout!

A national coalition of restaurants promoted a Great American Takeout on March 24.  I stood in a line of 12 or so diners at Borelli’s Encinitas, each person 6 feet apart with great courtesy to each other, and a lot of love for the proprietor for keeping three employees in the kitchen to keep the orders coming.

Last week, we also called for other restaurants to tell us what they were doing to stay open and promote takeout and delivery. We were overwhelmed with emails.

Randy Smerik, the owner of Solare Ristorante & Lounge in Point Loma uses his tech skills to produce live classes via Instagram Live. Upcoming LIVE events are promoted on his website, Photo by Nancine Belfiore

— Our travel writers Nancine Belfiore and Scott Hagner traveled to Point Loma for a lovely Italian dinner with a bottle of wine at Solare Ristorante & Lounge, for their 18th anniversary.  They easily found the “takeout window” with a staff person who could also take it to their car. A simple call to 619-270-9670 will place your order.  Randy Smerik, a former information technology exec, is a whiz with tech. He presents classes and social reach-out to his customers and friends using Instagram Live. Check out the schedule at his website:

— In North County, Vigilucci’s Restaurants, a part of the community since 1994, is offering new takeout specials at its Leucadia and Carlsbad Village locations from 3 to 8 p.m. For Carlsbad, call 760-434-2500; in Leucadia, 760-634-2365.

— Skip Coomber of Coomber Family Wines of Oceanside is working hard to keep all employees working. He’s changed his storefront to also sell “essentials” like hand sanitizers, wraps, sodas, bottled water, etc, from his front window.  He’s partnered with two nearby restaurants that are struggling and is delivering his wine and meals for 2.  The front window is open from noon to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.  Call 760-231-8022.

— Sal Ercolano’s Seasalt is open for takeout, 4:30 to 8 p.m. daily. A special takeout menu was created.  Spend $50 and get a free dessert; spend $100 and get a bottle of wine for 1 cent.  On Taco Tuesday, buy a taco plate and get a bottle of Dos Equis beer for 1 cent. Place your order by calling 858-755-7100.

Over 500 restaurants are actively promoting take-out in San Diego County. has the list.

The last major wine event in San Diego before coronavirus

Taste of Wine & Food’s travel writers Nancine Belfiore and Scott Hagner had the good fortune to press-cover the recent Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia 2020 at Liberty Station in San Diego.  Just days later, California would close down all major events in the state until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping through this state and the country.  However, on this day, fine Italian wines would be poured mostly without the winemakers and owners, who were in lockdown in Italy suffering casualties that would rival any in the world.

Belfiore and Hagner, in commenting on the turnout, said “one local Italian family was covering a wine table for their friends who were unable to leave Italy due to the current crisis.  Wine lovers packed the hall. There were so many great wines. Some of our favorites which earned our ‘Yummy’ award included:  Lazio Primitivo di Manduria Lu Rappaio 2018, Friuli Venezia Giuli Poppone 2016, Piedmont Montalbera 2018, Sicily Firriarto Etna Rosso 2018 and Puglia Torrevento Primitivo 2017.”

For this day, the Italian way of wine, food and “amore” made a group of San Diegans very happy. Visit

For the latest information, we have on conditions in our wine, food and restaurant community, be sure to check our website: