William Stanney, OFM 11 p.m., Dec. 17
Dead Restaurant Pool, three more drowned
No surprise that Jai is closing -- heard rumors a month ago. The woodsy, out-of-the-way campus location was enchanting to me, but apparently not to La Jollans. Its last night will be this Saturday. This was Wolfgang Puck's second attempt at a San Diego restaurant. The first try was a cafe in one of those brutal malls along Route 8, a location for the shop-weary peckish rather than the fine "becque-ish" who might seek something Puckish. (Hey, Wolfie, come back and try again, just get some local advisor to find the right neighborhood for you -- no, don't look at me, I don't know nothin' about birthin' babies or restaurants) As for the wonderfully artistic chef of Jai:-- Sayonara, and arigata for some excellent food.
La Jolla Rancherita has also gone under, best known for doing local lobster in season better than most of the joints in Puerto Nuevo.
But the astonishment of the week: Trattoria Acqua, long one of the area's most popular Italian restaurants (and with a great LJ Cove location) has also gone down the tubes. -- oh, don't ask why. Perhaps owner Mike McGreath is retiring -- far as I know, this is his last extant restaurant. McGreath also founded the late Fio's, one of the first Italian restaurants in the Gaslamp, and several others before that -- including one where he claims that his chef created the now-ubiquitous SoCal-Mex dish of grilled stuffed prawns wrapped in bacon. (Don't know that one's name, it was before I was born.) Then, too, the disastrous failure of little-sister restaurant Sophia (in the Aventine) four years ago surely left a huge pothole in the company wallet.