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Cardellino Owner Brad Wise on Truffles, Caviar & Butchering

On the latest Happy Half Hour, we dig into all things fungi, new happenings with the Trust Restaurant Group, and the latest in city food news
San Diego restaurant Cardellino in Mission Hills featuring chef Brad Wise
Photo Credit: Matt Furman

This week the crew is on-site at Italian restaurant Cardellino in Mission Hills—it’s part of the Trust Restaurant Group (TRG), which has restaurants throughout California and Colorado, and is in the middle of its Las Vegas expansion. Executive chef and owner Brad Wise joins us, and brought his truffle guy, Vince, too.

The duo have been working together for years, with Vincent Gentile and his partner Camille’s specialty food company, Seminalia Truffles, providing 100 percent of the wild mushrooms and truffles found on any TRG menu. He also provides caviar, too, which is harvested in The Netherlands.

Vincent Gentile and his partner Camille foraging for truffles for Seminalia Truffles and San Diego restaurant Cardellino
Courtesy of Seminalia Truffles

Seminalia Truffles is unique in that it’s likely the only company dedicated to sourcing and selling American-grown wild truffles. There are a variety of reasons why people think truffles from elsewhere are better than they are in the U.S., but the main reasons boil down to exposure and education. 

By engaging in shoeleather sales tactics—Gentile and his partner have a strong network of chef and fine dining relationships, including from Gentile’s time working for Grant Achatz at Alinea in Chicago—Seminalia Truffles is educating one dining room at a time about the variety and splendor of American truffles in particular. 

The company also sources some of the world’s finest caviars and roes, wild mushrooms, berries, and specialty farmed ingredients, including European truffles. Gentile teaches us about all things hidden underground, and we get to try Cardellino’s cacio e pepe with shaved black truffle.

We also talk new happenings at TRG: The Wise Ox is launching a butcher class and chef Brad Wise is going to be involved! The first one is on July 10 from 6-8 p.m. and will involve people butchering an entire pig. Take-home sausages and pig parts are part of the deal. 

Fort Oak is also launching a chef’s counter, which will run Thursdays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. and is limited to 10 guests a night. Beverage pairings are extra, but head to the restaurant’s website for summer booking.

A variety of meats on a cutting board from San Diego butcher shop Wise Ox which is hosted a new butcher class series with Brad Wise
Courtesy of The Wise Ox

Everyone’s favorite steakhouse, Rare Society Solana Beach, has one of the most raging happy hours in town. Recently, designer Raili Clasen told me she had to jet during a meeting because she was going to drinks with friends at the “most buzzy happy hour in North County with a line out the door.” It’s that good. Happy hour runs Wednesday-Monday from 4-6 p.m. and is one of the hottest seats in town.

Fans of Mister Trustee ice cream, rejoice! The ice cream window next to Cardellino is re-opening, and it’ll be called Wild Child. Flavors will change monthly. Expect it to open late June. And, on Mondays, just down Washington back in University Heights, the Park Boulevard location of Rare Society will host an industry happy hour from 5-6 p.m. as well as full dinner service from 5-9 p.m.

We also talk general San Diego restaurant news: Hillcrest’s Dumplings n More is opening in Escondido, the owners of Las Hadas Bar & Grill in the Gaslamp are opening a new spot next door, and The Lodge at Torrey Pines is launching its Artisan Table Signature Wine Dinners with top California wineries starting June 20, featuring Silver Oak and OVID Wineries. It’s also re-launching its Playing with Fire outdoor grilling sessions, with guests like Drew Deckman, Chef Marty Fay with Sandpiper Wood Fired Grill & Oysters and Pure Project Brewing, and many more.

By Jackie Bryant

Jackie is San Diego Magazine's content strategist. Prior to that, she was its managing editor. Before her SDM career, she was a long-time freelance journalist covering cannabis, food/restaurants, travel, labor, wine, spirits, arts & culture, design, and other topics. Her work has been selected twice for Best American Travel Writing, and she has won a variety of national and local awards for her writing and reporting.

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