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PAON Restaurant and Wine Bar in Carlsbad receives one of the Award Of Excellence awards from Wine Spectator. From left, co-Owner Mayur Pavagadhi, Master Sommelier Gino Campbell and co-Owner Steve Barr. Photo by Frank Mangio
Carlsbad Community Community Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Wine Spectator’s best wine lists in San Diego

Each year at this time, the world’s most renowned wine/ and food magazine, Wine Spectator, presents restaurants in the U.S. and around the world for their wine lists.

There are three categories.  In order of importance, they are:  Award Of Excellence, Best Of Award Of Excellence and The Grand Award — their highest award, given to very few restaurants, “that showed an uncompromising passionate devotion to the quality of the wine list which features a minimum 1,000 selections, with the highest level of service.”

There was just one in San Diego County that was selected for the top award, Addison, at the Grand Del Mar resort. It offers some 3,000 choices.

The surprise of the list in San Diego was PAON Restaurant and Wine Bar in Carlsbad, which picked up a Best Of Award Of Excellence.

Wine Spectator presents this award to those offering 350 or more selections and are destinations for serious wine lovers, according to the magazine.

PAON Restaurant and Wine Bar co-owners Mayur Pavagadhi and Steve Barr brought Master Sommelier Gino Campbell into the operation over a year ago.  His wine credentials are one of the most extensive in the country, being a Certified Advance Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers and a graduate of the Cellar Master’s Program from the University of Bordeaux in France — one of only 69 in the U.S.

PAON has more than 1,000 wines on its wine list, including some vintage, collector’s wines.  All wines are available in its retail wine shop.

Wine events are produced each day of the week at PAON in a comfortable setting. The list includes three pages of Pinot Noir, two pages of wines from Italy and three pages from Bordeaux France.

Other Wine Spectator awards went to: Amaya, Argyle, Avant, The Barrel Room, BICE, Bistro West, Crab Catcher, Eddie V’s, Firenze, Fleming’s, Il Fornaio, Kitchen 1540, Mille Fleurs, Mister A’s, Morada, Ruth’s Chris, Sbicca, Seasons 52, Truluck’s, Veladora, West Steak & Seafood and the Winesellar & Brasserie.


Parc Bistro-Brasserie a New French Restaurant on Bankers Hill San Diego

Parc Bistro Brasserie, on 5th Avenue in the Bankers Hill District of San Diego, is a comfortable French Restaurant, created by veteran restaurateur Garo Minassian.

Minassian has been successful in previous local formats such as Bistro Bacco, Scalini’s and Harry’s Bar.

Parc Bistro-Brasserie Owner Garo Minassian, left, and new Executive Chef Donald Lockhart display fine wines at the new Bankers Hill San Diego location. Photo by Frank Mangio
Parc Bistro-Brasserie Owner Garo Minassian, left, and new Executive Chef Donald Lockhart display fine wines at the new Bankers Hill San Diego location. Photo by Frank Mangio

Parc Bistro-Brasserie is the culmination of these — a restaurant that’s a French-style village meeting and eating place, to meet friends and make future friends over a joyful menu created by Executive Chef Donald Lockhart, formerly from CUSP in La Jolla.

Lobster is the specialty, showing up in the entrée choices, as well as an appetizer.  There is a raw fish bar with seafood platters, including oysters, lobster and crab.  Parc Bistro-Brasserie is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

The 1,400 wine choices are vast, with a few great treasures for the wine aficionado.   My choice was Whitehall Lane, a red blend from Napa Valley.  It was the 2013 Tre Leoni ($56 at the restaurant).

It fit nicely as a pairing to the Mediterranean Branzino fish, similar to a Sea Bass in flavor, that had tomato, olive and garlic confit as garnishes.  Call (619) 715-5101 for a table reservation.


Wine Bytes

North County Wine Company in San Marcos is celebrating its sixth anniversary July 29 and July 30 with great tasting specials, food, prizes and big discounts. Friday’s event goes from 4 to 10 p.m. and Saturday starting at 3 p.m. Congrats to Jim and Bill Tobin.  Get details at (760) 653-9032.

The second annual Sip of Julian is planned for July 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Julian Town Hall on Main Street.  Wine, beer and hard cider will be sampled plus small bites.  Cost is $25.  Tickets are available at or call (760) 765-1857.

Capri Blu in Rancho Bernardo has an upcoming Tinazzi wine dinner Aug. 3 at 6 p.m.  Tinazzi is located near Lake Garda in Italy. Enjoy an Italian dinner with premium Italian wines. Cost is $55 per person.  RSVP by calling (858) 673-5100.

San Diego’s 2Plank Vineyards will be serving their wines at a five-course dinner at Vintana Restaurant in Escondido, Aug. 3.  Feature entrée is Short Rib Papardelle with 2Plank Zinfandel.  Call (760) 745-7777 for RSVP and time.


Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View his columns at and reach him at [email protected].  Follow him on Facebook.