In the heart of Torrey Pines, Bella Vista Social Club is serving up food, wine, fun and the kind of conversations you can’t get anywhere else.
Overlooking the Pacific via the ocean view terrace, the cafe is chic, modern and smartly set up. I personally visited the restaurant during the bustle of its lunch rush. For a few dollars more than I would have spent to dine at McDonalds, I enjoyed a wonderfully flakey Croque Madame with soup, fruit and a drink. While I enjoyed my meal I alternated between watching the seabirds wheel over the waters and observing owners Amanda and Nico Caniglia hard at work, moving about the midday crowd with the seeming effortlessness born of deep competence.
Nico and Amanda met more than a decade ago at one of the original Wine Steals in Hillcrest, and a deep appreciation for wine has been a current in their relationship ever since. Even as the pair dreamed of opening their own wine bar, the two stayed extremely active as world travelers and international businesspeople. Amanda holds a BS from UCSD and has instructed courses in Business English for foreign businessmen and women. Meanwhile Nicolas speaks seven languages fluently and originally hails from Switzerland. After transitioning to the food industry he spent several years working and managing top San Diego restaurants (Buon Appetito, Arrivederci) and Bay Area Italian restaurants before starting his own cafe.
Being a husband and wife team of restaurateurs (in addition to raising a six year old son) isn’t easy, but the couple says they manage by each focusing on their strengths.
“Nico is brilliant at the operations and being able to crank fantastic food out of the world’s smallest kitchen,” says Amanda. “No joke, I bet your kitchen at home is bigger. I focus on the front of the house, marketing, networking, pulling in repeat customers and events. Nico prefers to stay behind the scenes but don’t be fooled, he’s quite the charmer when working the cafe floor.”
The most important things Nico and Amanda wanted bring to their cafe was true European and international flair. They wanted customers to feel transported and experience the best of what the couple themselves had experienced at their favorite restaurants across the globe, be it the amazing service of Bali, the bright smiles of Mexico, the high quality wait-staff of Italy or the presentation of France or Japan. They also wanted to incorporate the Spanish comfort of responsibly incorporating wine into lunch. Managing all this, plus catering and other special events in a single restaurant–with a notoriously small kitchen–is a tall order, but one that Bella Vista manages to serve up right on time.
In addition to serving up delicious food and wine for hungry tourists, scientists and others, Bella Vista Social Club also features live music Thursday and Friday evenings and a daily happy hour.
Learn more about Bella Vista Social Club at BellaVistaCaffe.com