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Photo at left: Montalcino

When in Solana Beach, craft-beer lovers know to go to Pizza Port to scratch their hop-and-malt itch. But what if you’re more the Brunello d’Montalcino type? The answer to that question may lie at Crush (http://www.solanabeachcrush.com), an Italian restaurant and wine lounge that just opened in the quaint coastal community and offers over 160 vinos. It’s the latest of a wave of new restos to make their debut on what’s becoming the hottest foodie stretch of road in the county, Highway 101.

A spin-off of a four-year-old sister restaurant of the same name based in Chico, Crush features easily the most modern, upscale motif of any of the new breed of settlers on the 101. The menu, which features wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas, and hearty secondi like a lamb shank with polenta made with ancient grains, was developed by the executive chef from the Chico operation, who is running the Solana Beach kitchen in tandem with chef Mike Lina, who most recently worked at The Steakhouse at Azul in La Jolla.

The restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily and a late-night happy hour Wednesday through Sunday from 10 p.m. to close. Crush is located at 437 South Highway 101, #112.

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