The Fresh Man

By Brandon Hernandez
Photos by Gabriella Lingenfelder

(Published in the August 2010 issue)

Over the past half-decade, Downtown's Stingaree has garnered nationwide attention for being a top-tier night club that serves up nights to remember to luxury-minded night owls. And while other clubs have come and gone, the key to Stingaree's success has been reinvention-just when things were getting a little static, they unveiled a redesigned rooftop lounge earlier this summer. That same philosophy of reinvigoration has just been applied to the venue's fine-dining restaurant, which, later this month, will unveil a brand new menu created by its executive chef, Antonio Friscia.

"I've always stuck to my Italian training, but now I want to do a little bit more," says Friscia. "When I was younger, I worked and traveled in Bali for a year and a half. Since then, I've gotten used to using those [Indonesian] ingredients when cooking at home for my wife and kids. The new menu isa combo of what I learned during my travels to Asia and my training in Italy."

Friscia is using this first-person fusion approach on his new dishes. There's his sweet caramelized sea scallops served with a salad of Japanese sekai-ichi apples dressed in sherry vinaigrette, his roasted lamb chops with a spicy red lentil dahl (Indian-style soup) and barbecued pork served donburi ("bowl," in Japanese) style in a bowl filled with flavorful fried brown rice. For those with a little culinary bravery, be on the lookout for uni (the edible eggs of the sea urchin), a delicacy Friscia used to enjoy at the beach as a kid after abalone diving sessions with his dad.

"I have this dish that's eventually going to be added to the menu, where I take fresh pasta, sautéed garlic, white wine and some fresh roasted chilies and toss them with uni at the last minute so it emulsifies into a sauce," says Friscia. "It's really simple, but delicious."

Another of the chef's favorite ingredients is pork from the Happy Tummy pig farm in nearby Alpine, where Friscia has worked out a symbiotic pact with the farmers: Stingaree provides the farmers with green waste for their pigs and receives top quality, responsibly raised Duroc pork in return. Friscia has big plans for every succulent section of the animal, from tail to snout, and the first Happy Tummy item to hit the bill is spareribs brushed with a sweet Hoisin-honey sauce. If that dish sounds like was made to be paired with a nice Merlot, diners are in luck. Friscia's uncle, Nunzio Alioto, is one of America's foremost Master Sommeliers. He showed his nephew the ropes of reds, whites and rosés at an early age, igniting Friscia's passion for vino that gave way to a life of study and appreciation.

"Today, I'm an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust out of England," says Friscia. "It cost me thousands of dollars, but it was worth it."

All of this could sound intimidating to some diners, but Friscia maintains that Stingaree's new menu will always be based on a communal format meant to spark conversation, interaction and memorable experiences.

"Life's too short to eat bad food or fast food," says Friscia. "Sit down at the table and take time to talk to your friends and family and enjoy your food."

Stingaree
454 Sixth Avenue, Downtown
619.544.9500 | stingsandiego.com

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