The historical former home of the Blade-Tribune newspaper in downtown Oceanside will be home this fall to a modern Italian restaurant named Blade 1936.
The new restaurant, scheduled to open in late September, will be operated by two San Diego restaurateurs known for their expertise with Italian cuisine and Neopolitan-style wood-fired pizza.
Partner and culinary director Mario Cassineri, a native of Milan, was the chef/partner at the former Bice San Diego and menu consultant on several other local restaurants. Partner, general manager and head pizza chef John Carlo Ferraiuolo has been the “mastro pizzaiolo” at Caffè Calabria and Red Oven Pizza.
Cassineri said the restaurant will have a historical exterior and a modern interior, which will reflect the menu of the restaurant — classic Italian with a modern twist.
“I like authenticity in the food and here we will combine it with a bit of modern times,” he said. “The quality will be like fine dining but at an affordable price, and we will mix traditional recipes with California ingredients and cooking.”
The menu will be a mix of pizzas cooked in a custom-made Stefano Ferrara pizza brick oven from Italy, as well as antipasti, made-to-order pasta dishes, small and shared plates, salads and larger planted entrees.
Pastas and bread will be made in-house. Specialties of the house will include quinoa paella, frittura mista (fried fish and vegetables), lobster farroto (a style of risotto made with farro) and the Blade Sweet Basket, a fresh-baked bread bowl filled with Nutella and Italian doughnuts.
Most items are priced from $10 to $16. The restaurant will be open for happy hour, dinner and weekend brunch.
The restaurant’s name is inspired by the building’s history. Built in 1936 at 401 Seagaze Drive, it was the last project designed by noted local architect Irving Gill.
The 6,000-square-foot warehouse-style building was home to both the offices and the printing press for the Blade-Tribune and News newspaper for three decades until it moved to a much larger property on South Coast Highway in the mid-1960s.
In 1995, the renamed Blade-Citizen merged with Escondido’s Times-Advocate to form the North County Times which was absorbed into the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2013.
After the Blade left the Seagaze Drive building, it housed a now-defunct furniture store as well as a still-operating barber shop. The building was purchased a few years ago by Encinitas real estate agent “Donia” Ackad Yuhong, who will be both landlord and partner in the new restaurant.
Over the past six months, the art deco building on Seagaze has undergone a major renovation that exposed the long-hidden engraved Blade-Tribune and News sign above the front doors.
The building’s newspaper history will be honored in more ways than its name. The menu looks like newspaper pages on a background of hot-metal type used back in the 1930s to assemble page plates. There will also be framed newspaper articles on the walls and an old time capsule in the floor.
The 150-seat restaurant will have a large central bar, a chef’s counter where diner’s can watch the pizza-making in action, and a dining room and lounge that can be divided for special events. Next year, a rooftop deck will be added as well as a small outdoor patio, Cassineri said.