The Coast News Group
Farah and Mozy Jahanguiri, owners of The Bistro, a cozy, comfortable Rancho Santa Fe restaurant for the past eight years, display a prized Chalk Hill 5-liter Cabernet from Napa Valley, part of their massive cellar wine collection. Photo by Frank Mangio
ColumnsTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Valentine’s Day-inspired dishes at Il Fornaio Del Mar

While many dining establishments will be offering Valentine’s Day-inspired menus on the 14th, Il Fornaio will be serving romantic dishes now through Feb. 16 as part of their Umbria Festa Regionale menu. 

Before digging into the food and wine, it is probably worth covering where Valentine’s Day came from. The history varies, but many believe that is was named after St. Valentine who was a priest in Rome. Emperor Claudius II thinking that married soldiers would be less effective banned marriages. St. Valentine disobeyed this order and held secret marriages. 

When Claudius discovered the secret matrimonies, Valentine was jailed and sentenced to death. The plot thickens when he fell in love with Claudius’ daughter. On the day he was killed, Feb. 14, he sent his lover a letter signed “from your Valentine” inspiring modern-day Valentine’s Day.

Onto the dinner, Franco and I were able to review and enjoy much of the Umbria menu.  We started our Aperitivo course with the Bruschetta ai Sapori Umbri-Toasted sfilatino bread topped five different ways and Bocconcini di Salsiccia con Polenta e Pecorino Tartufato-Housemade sausage served with truffle pecorino cheese, grilled fennel and polenta. For our Primi course, we had Cuore di Raviolo con Rancetto-Heart-shaped butternut squash ravioli filled with roasted free-range chicken, carrots, celery and herbs and Risotto Umbria-Carnaroli rice with Italian sausage, porcini mushrooms, Grana Padano and heart-shaped pecorino cheese topper. Next on to the Secondi, we enjoyed Salmone Tartufato-Salmon fillet sautéed with artichokes and topped with black truffles served with sliced potato and Agnello in Crosta di Pecorino-Roasted rack of lamb in pecorino cheese crust served with roasted Yukon Gold potatoes &and vegetables. Believe it or not, we had a little bit of room left for the Fondente ai Tre Cuori-Heart-shaped flourless dark chocolate cake with white chocolate and mixed-berry gelee hearts.

To complement the menu dishes, we suggest the Umbria inspired wine flight pairings with your dinner. One gets to choose three of four wines ($17.95 for the flight) from the following list: 2018 Savliano Pinot Nero Rose-dry with spring berries on the nose and earthy flavors, 2018 Antinori Chardonnay, “Castello di Bramito” — a tropical nose with hints of vanilla along with a structured palate, 2015 Antonelli Sagrantino “Contrario” — rich red color featuring a citrus and berry nose and fruit finish, and the 2015 Salviano Rosso “Turlo” Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon blend deep in color with black fruit nose and palate. Il Fornaio helps out patrons by providing food pairing suggestions on the menu.

Besides the delicious food and wine, we always enjoy our conversations with GM Vittorio Homberger. Each time we chat with him, he reminds us of the efforts that he puts into team training and his philosophy of a happy team creating a great dinner experience for customers. We could not agree with him more. Bravo, Bravo Vittorio, Chef Roberto, and server Mateo for another fantastic experience at Il Fornaio Del Mar. More info at Story by Rico Cassoni, Tech Director/Writer.

Get cozy with Mozy at The Bistro in RSF

The coziest restaurant for dining among Rancho Santa Fe’s finest is The Bistro, lovingly operated by the husband and wife team of Farah and Mozy Jahanguiri for the past eight years.

Jahanguiri is no stranger to big city celebrities. He made a name for himself in Chicago, Minneapolis and Dallas. In “Big D” he knew Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman and other VIP players on the team and has large format photos to prove it. His wine collection could be the very best in the restaurants of the region. Over 5,000 bottles sit in traditional French cellars and other locations in the intimate restaurant.

“My collection for my guests is not only limited to expensive French. I selected a 2018 Conundrum blend for you from the Wagner Family Collection in Napa Valley. For my French-style grass fed New York steak, I will open a bottle of 2016 DAOU Reserve Cabernet from Paso Robles. This brand is fast becoming the preferred wine in anyone’s collection for French style wine artistry.” DAOU is widely available in better restaurants and is frequently profiled in Taste of Wine & Food.

A French touch is in evidence in every corner of The Bistro. Even the French Fried Potatoes that accompanied the French cooked steak, soaked in sauces, were light and fluffy… Paris style.

The Bistro is open for breakfast on weekdays and Brunch on Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays but does open for private parties by reservation. The Bistro is located in the Rancho Santa Fe Village on Paseo Delicias. Visit

Wine Bytes

• Join Parc Brasserie on 5th Ave. San Diego for a Valentine’s Day three-course Prix-Fixe dinner in the French style, Feb. 14 starting at 3 p.m. Cost is $75 per person. Call (619) 795-1501.

• 20/Twenty, an appropriate restaurant for the classic Valentine’s Day dinner this year, celebrates with a three-course dinner for you and your significant other. Gourmet food, wine and live music on the 14th at $75 per person. Check out

• Il Fornaio in Del Mar presents a special Duckhorn winemaker dinner with guest speaker and VP of winemaking Dana Epperson at 6 p.m. Feb. 19. This four-course dinner is $99.99. For an RSVP, please call (858) 755-8876.

• Gianni Buonomo Vintners in Ocean Beach San Diego is planning a wine dinner celebration for their wine winnings at the recent San Francisco Chronicle competition.  The dinner is 6:30 to 9 p.m.  Feb. 22 with a $55 cost. It’s a three-course Italian dinner created by Chef Max Farina along with a glass of any of the award-winning wines, the 2015 Barbera and the 2015 Avennio. Details at