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Liberty lunch for the office crowd

Officine Buona can get you out the door in 30 minutes

The Sofia Pizza with mozzarella, mushrooms, artichoke, and prosciutto cotto.
The Sofia Pizza with mozzarella, mushrooms, artichoke, and prosciutto cotto.

You have a choice of about 30 eateries at Liberty Public Market, but if you’re taking a quick workday lunch break you’d do well to check out neighboring Officine Buona Forchetta, a recent expansion of South Park’s beloved Northern Italian hub, Buona Forchetta. The 2622-square-foot, 200-seat restaurant debuted in March as a joint project of Buona Forchetta owner Matteo Cattaneo and Mario Cassineri of Gaslamp’s BiCE Ristorante.

Grilled salmon fillet is one of nine main dish options for the lunch special

Despite a $600,000 build-out that elicits an Italian garage (complete with a table for two inside a vintage red Fiat), the restaurant has a casual ambiance that doesn’t demand fine dining apparel or attitude. The menu was recently renovated to include a $14 lunch special from noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, which includes beverage (bottled soda, iced tea, or American coffee), an appetizer (two choices of salad or soup of the day), and an entrée (grilled chicken, pasta, grilled salmon, or Neapolitan pizza), all designed to be prepared and eaten in under 30 minutes or taken to go.

Artichokes as tender as gelato

It’s 1 p.m. on a Friday, and Officine Buona Forchetta’s interior and two patios are humming with conversion and the clink of glasses as airplanes aim for cruising altitude overhead. Our server, Remy, details the menu with vicarious delight, seeming to relish every ingredient as if it were the still-warm recollection of an absconded lover.

The Italian garage theme includes a Vespa and a two-seater table inside an old Fiat

“My favorite on a hot summer day is the Italian Spritzer,” Remy says in a pronounced Italian accent. “It's very light, and the soda water keeps you from getting a headache."

The $8 cocktail of Aperol and Prosecco comes at an additional cost to the lunch. True to Remy’s testimony, it fizzles on the palette as an add-on order of artichokes ($11) arrives in four delicate hearts and a few inches of stem sprinkled with Parmesan and herbs. They yield under a fork as if they’re gelato.

The salmon arrives on a dash of mashed potato, topped with thin-sliced garlic, capers, and herbs and served with roasted cherry tomatoes, zukes, and carrot. It’s fresh, it’s flavorful.

Place

Officine Buona Forchetta

2865 Sims Road, San Diego

The Sofia Pizza has a slightly bubbled crust encircling tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushroom, prosciutto cotto, and bits of those supernatural artichokes. The dough is soft but crisp.

The verdict: I’ll be returning for lunch.

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The Sofia Pizza with mozzarella, mushrooms, artichoke, and prosciutto cotto.
The Sofia Pizza with mozzarella, mushrooms, artichoke, and prosciutto cotto.

You have a choice of about 30 eateries at Liberty Public Market, but if you’re taking a quick workday lunch break you’d do well to check out neighboring Officine Buona Forchetta, a recent expansion of South Park’s beloved Northern Italian hub, Buona Forchetta. The 2622-square-foot, 200-seat restaurant debuted in March as a joint project of Buona Forchetta owner Matteo Cattaneo and Mario Cassineri of Gaslamp’s BiCE Ristorante.

Grilled salmon fillet is one of nine main dish options for the lunch special

Despite a $600,000 build-out that elicits an Italian garage (complete with a table for two inside a vintage red Fiat), the restaurant has a casual ambiance that doesn’t demand fine dining apparel or attitude. The menu was recently renovated to include a $14 lunch special from noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, which includes beverage (bottled soda, iced tea, or American coffee), an appetizer (two choices of salad or soup of the day), and an entrée (grilled chicken, pasta, grilled salmon, or Neapolitan pizza), all designed to be prepared and eaten in under 30 minutes or taken to go.

Artichokes as tender as gelato

It’s 1 p.m. on a Friday, and Officine Buona Forchetta’s interior and two patios are humming with conversion and the clink of glasses as airplanes aim for cruising altitude overhead. Our server, Remy, details the menu with vicarious delight, seeming to relish every ingredient as if it were the still-warm recollection of an absconded lover.

The Italian garage theme includes a Vespa and a two-seater table inside an old Fiat

“My favorite on a hot summer day is the Italian Spritzer,” Remy says in a pronounced Italian accent. “It's very light, and the soda water keeps you from getting a headache."

The $8 cocktail of Aperol and Prosecco comes at an additional cost to the lunch. True to Remy’s testimony, it fizzles on the palette as an add-on order of artichokes ($11) arrives in four delicate hearts and a few inches of stem sprinkled with Parmesan and herbs. They yield under a fork as if they’re gelato.

The salmon arrives on a dash of mashed potato, topped with thin-sliced garlic, capers, and herbs and served with roasted cherry tomatoes, zukes, and carrot. It’s fresh, it’s flavorful.

Place

Officine Buona Forchetta

2865 Sims Road, San Diego

The Sofia Pizza has a slightly bubbled crust encircling tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushroom, prosciutto cotto, and bits of those supernatural artichokes. The dough is soft but crisp.

The verdict: I’ll be returning for lunch.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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