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Meet Pete Balistreri

The regional executive chef of Tender Greens

By Erin Chambers Smith | Photo by Found Creative Studio

Meet Pete Balistreri

Pete Balistreri

Your restaurant won for Best Salad. But we know Tender Greens is more than salad. It’s… A place that has a positive impact on the community. It’s about people: the customers, the employees, the farmers, the brewers, and the relationships we create with everyone.

You’re opening a location downtown. Does Broadway scare you at all as a dining destination? I love our DTSD location. It has great character. The breeze off the ocean and the brick building give the space a romantic vibe. Broadway is transforming as we speak and we’re excited to be a part of that revitalization.

So when did salumi come into the picture? Ten years ago when I was a chef at the Lodge [at Torrey Pines] and Jeff Jackson sent me to eat at Michael Stebner’s restaurant, Region. That was the first time I saw anyone make salumi in his own restaurant. Once I tried it I was like Anton Ego in Ratatouille—my fork hit the floor. One of the most humbling experiences was when Michael was eating at Tender Greens and told me our salami was as good as anything they made at Region.

What’s the difference between salumi and charcuterie? Salumi is Italian and charcuterie is French. Charcuterie usually refers to cooked meats like pâtés, galantines, and terrines. The equivalent in Italian would be affettati. Salumi is the plural term for cured meats like salami, guanciale, lardo, speck, prosciutto, and pancetta. Salumi is probably the least fancy food ever invented. I’ll spare you the history lesson, but let’s just say Salumi is so O.G. it’s B.C.

Does it pair better with beer or wine? In SD, everything is better with beer… especially salumi.

Favorite SD Brewery? Pizza Port in O.B. They have a wonderful selection of rotating beers and everything is on point.

In honor of our Best Restaurants issue, what are your favorites? For sentimental reasons, I love sitting at the oyster bar at the Fish Market and eating steamed clams and oysters. My dad’s been taking me there since I was a kid. For family-friendly, which is basically all I ever seek out these days, I love Blind Lady Ale House—amazing pizza and beer, and my kids love it.

You were raised in Point Loma. What about there? Venetian is still my favorite pizza, Chris’ Liquor is my favorite sandwich (the Navigator on an onion roll’s the best!), and there is one new restaurant— Ikuru Sushi in Liberty Station. Those guys are unbelievable!

When you’re not cooking, what do you do for fun? I coach youth football. My son Rocco’s a real player. I’m the offensive coordinator. I’m also obsessed with my garden. It’s where I find peace. Once the water gets warm, I’m body surfing at Tower 2 or paddling at Kellogg’s.

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