On the Menu: Pizza and pasta’s the plan at Officine Buona Forchetta
Point Loma’s historic Liberty Station, once a naval training center, has become a mecca for serious pasta and pizza lovers who converge on the family-friendly Officine Buona Forchetta.
The Italian restaurant was opened in 2017 by Matteo Cattaneo, who had immigrated to San Diego from Bergamo, Italy, to study law. He soon passed another kind of bar that involved pizza, pasta and vino, and then ran with the concept.
Cattaneo opened the original Buona Forchetta (“good fork”) as a pizza place eight years ago in South Park. His wife, Alexa, can be credited with naming the restaurant (he chose Al Dente), establishing a brand for a growing group of locations that followed, all embracing the ethos of “fun dining.” They include Garage Buona Forchetta and Caffe Buona Forchetta, both in Coronado; Buona Forchetta Encinitas; Buona Forchetta San Marcos; Matteo, a nonprofit restaurant and bakery near San Diego’s Balboa Park; Enoteca Buona Forchetta, a wine and tapas bar in South Park; Gelati & Peccati, a gelato shop and Roman-style pizzeria in North Park; and a catering arm that provides mobile pizza ovens for weddings and other events.
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Officine Buona Forchetta’s name incorporates the concept of “workshop,” with a themed industrial warehouse decor centered on a pair of heavy-duty gilded pizza ovens imported from Italy.
The names of Cattaneo’s parents, Augusta and Sergio, are slugged across the golden hoods, paying homage to his heritage and devotion to family and the importance of food. This whimsy warehouse also sports a couple of sprawling patios with arcade games to provide a secure playground area for children to romp around while parents mangia bene (eat well) in peace. No one wants to be disturbed while indulging in the hugely popular Neapolitan-style pizzas baked in Venus-hot ovens at 700 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The menu offers more amalgams of pizza than there are Italian opera singers throughout the ages. Let’s start with the classics to please traditional palates — the Margherita and the Puttanesca (capers, anchovies, olives, San Marzano tomatoes). For more intrepid diners, there are the rosse (red sauce) pies with toppings running the gamut from eggplant, artichokes, arugula and mushrooms to speck, spicy sausage and prosciutto.
Le bianche (without sauce) pizzas get dressings such as pine nuts, roasted potatoes, shrimp, pancetta, smoked salmon and fennel sausage, and finally there are gourmet and fried pizzas.
While mozzarella is the default cheese, other choices include mozzarella di bufala, parmigiano, gorgonzola, provola, goat cheese and ricotta.
Besides pizzas and calzones, other classic dishes that instantly transport you to Naples include pastas of all manner with homemade sauces, eggplant parmigiana, gnocchi, lasagna made two ways (Bolognese and vegetarian) and assorted risottos, along with fresh weekly specials of pasta, fish, chicken and beef.
Gluten-free pizza and pasta options are available, as well as a mother lode of vegan and vegetarian choices.
Weekend brunch offerings blend authentic Italian with classic American fare such as organic and seasonal vegetable frittatas, breakfast pizzas topped with everything from bacon and eggs to mixed mushrooms and truffle oil, nutella and mascarpone pancakes, and assorted paninis.
The bulk of ingredients are imported from Italian suppliers, and local purveyors provide organic and specialty produce.
More ambitious patrons can participate in cooking classes hosted by Officine Buona Forchetta to learn the art of crafting fresh pastas and the award-winning Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Officine Buona Forchetta
Where: 2865 Sims Road, Liberty Station, Point Loma
Open: Daily except Tuesdays for lunch and dinner; breakfast also is served Saturdays and Sundays
Information: buonaforchettasd.com/officine-buona-forchetta, (619) 548-5770
Penne pasta with broccoli, chili flakes, sundried tomatoes and Italian ricotta salata
- 500 grams (about 1 pound) penne pasta
- 3 broccoli crowns, cut in florets
- 3 ounces sundried tomatoes
- 4 ounces Italian ricotta salata cheese
- 2 ounces parmigiano cheese
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
- Use salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste.
- Blanch (scald) the broccoli in salted water for one minute and cool with cold water.
- In a large skillet on medium heat, add oil, garlic and shallots and cook until golden in color.
- Add the broccoli, sundried tomatoes, salt, pepper, chili flakes and one glass of water.
- Reduce (thicken) the sauce for three to four minutes.
- Cook the penne pasta in a large pot of salted water and drain when cooked to desired texture.
- Add the penne pasta to the sauce and add extra virgin olive oil and parmigiano cheese.
- Serve the pasta topped with shredded Italian ricotta salata.
— Courtesy of chef Valentino Pellegrini