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The Next Gen Has Reinvented San Diego Classic The Fishery (& It’s Fantastic)

Owner Annemarie Brown-Lorenz talks about her family’s four generations in local food, and the future
Photo Credit: Kimberly Motos

As a kid growing up in La Jolla, Annemarie Brown-Lorenz had swordfish bills sticking up out of the ground in her backyard. Her dad was a fifth generation local fisherman who believed in using every part of the fish. If you take a life from the sea, have the respect to use every part of that life. And Annemarie’s grandmother (a first-generation American from Slovenia) grew all her own food; believed if you stuck swordfish bills in the garden it would lend its nutrients to the soil. So forget the garden gnome.

That ethos—sustainable fishing, old-world farming (now they call it biodynamic)—was what The Fishery was built on. Annemarie’s parents, Judd and Mary Ann, opened the restaurant in 1996. Judd had already built a successful business delivering seafood caught by local boats to San Diego restaurants. For The Fishery, they just knocked a hole in the wall of that seafood warehouse (called Pacific Shellfish) and passed the day’s best catches into the kitchen.

The Fishery turns 25-years-old this month. During the pandemic, Judd and Mary Ann started spending most of their time at their home in Oregon, putting The Fishery’s future in Annemarie’s hands. Her husband Nicholas runs Pac Shell. Together, they’re overhauling the classic. They brought in exec chef Mike Reidy (who spent a few years under Josia Citrin at 2-star Michelin restaurant, Melisse), a GM from Juniper & Ivy, bar manager Eddie Avila (former Whisknladle), and they’re designing a new remodel right now that extends the seating and includes an oysters-and-Champagne bar.

This explains why it was so incredibly good when I visited for this month’s review in San Diego Mag. Annemarie joins us to talk about deep local roots and the future of a San Diego institution. She brings sushi rolls (dear god, order the Sunshine Roll).

In news, the new chef at classic San Diego resort Kona Kai is Joe Magnanelli, who made a name for himself as the exec of Cucina Urbana for a decade; the sale of classic craft cocktail den, El Dorado, to the kind of hospitality group you can get behind, Pouring With Heart (they own Seven Grand, and give their employees health benefits, 401ks, access to mental health services); and Carruth Cellars has endangered the productivity of the SDM staff by opening a new tasting room a block away from our offices at Carté Hotel.

For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” I share one of the surprise hits of my current search for the best food in Little Italy, the Ligurian flatbread at Davanti Enoteca; David is ready for cozy fall nights with High Noon Ramen at Harumama; and Annemarie raves about the new North Park restaurant/gin bar Mabel’s Gone Fishing (you can listen to our interview with Mabel’s owner on this episode).

Next week, exec chef Josh Mouzakes from Arlo at Town & Country gives us his secret tips on how to crank up Thanksgiving dinner at home (hint: a simple way to smoke butter for mashed potatoes).

By Troy Johnson

Troy Johnson is the magazine’s award-winning food writer and humorist, and a long-standing expert on Food Network. His work has been featured on NatGeo, Travel Channel, NPR, and in Food Matters, a textbook of the best American food writing.

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