Catania Now Open In The Heart Of La Jolla

March 16, 2015

Whisknladle Hospitality has opened it's newest restaurant, Catania, right in the heart of La Jolla, adding to the brand's respected portfolio of local dining destinations including three Prepkitchen locations and La Jolla’s flagship restaurant, Whisknladle. Nestled on the top floor of the newly redesigned La Plaza Center on the historic corner of Wall and Girard, the 3,750-square-foot restaurant is poised to provide guests with authentic Italian coastal cuisine.

Originally conceived from the vision of Whisknladle Hospitality Owner Arturo Kassel and Culinary Director/Partner Ryan Johnston, both tour de forces in the local culinary landscape, Catania was inspired by the duo’s two-week, 1,400-mile road trip through Italy six years ago. Johnston’s subsequent visit to Italy this past summer with Catania Executive Chef Vince Schofield and his culinary team fueled the artistic creativity evident throughout the restaurant’s inventive menu of unique iterations.

“While keeping in line with the principles that we have adhered to from the day Whisknladle first opened its doors more than seven years ago, this new venture gives our team an opportunity to stretch its creative capacity to new levels,” said Whisknladle Hospitality Owner Arturo Kassel. “While the build out alone took less than 12 months, Catania is the result of several years of intense deliberation and sleepless nights.”

At the helm of the kitchen, Schofield, a San Francisco transplant best known for his work at Nombe, Darwin and his own Taco Libre, has thoughtfully developed a coastal Italian menu. Staying true to Whisknladle Hospitality’s dedication to from-scratch cooking utilizing the freshest ingredients available, Schofield’s menu presents guests with unexpected riffs on traditional dishes.

Highlights of Schofield’s innovative menu include starters such as the Yellowtail Crudo (Citrus, Yogurt and Calabrian Chili) and Quail Spiedini (Proscuitto, Sage and Charred Treviso), housemade pastas including Squid Ink and Octopus Spaghetti (Fennel Sausage, Rapini and Chili Oil) and Sunchoke Agnolotti (Artichoke, Green Garlic, Spring Onion, Carrots and Parmesan) in addition to a handful of Neapolitan- style pizzas such as the Sicilian Pistacchio (Mortadella, Pecorino and Burrata) and the Clam Pie (Fresh Mozzarella and Fontina, Chili Oil, Parmesan, Lardo and Parsley) all crisped to perfection by Beatrice, the restaurant’s 5,000 pound wood burning oven, named after the heroin in Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Completing the Catania menu is a thoughtful selection of handcrafted desserts overseen by Whisknladle Hospitality Corporate Chef Jojo Rossi, a first generation Sicilian-American. The menu’s decadent offerings include the Torta di Pistachio (with Fresh Strawberries and Lemon Sorbet) and the Chocolate Budino (with Cabernet Reduction and Biscotti).

Behind the bar, cocktail curator Adam Lockridge has injected his artistic flair to develop an Italian-inspired list of signature libations. A natural cocktail savant, Lockridge’s standouts include the Signora e Signore (Aperol, Cynar, Amaro Nònino, Prosecco and Angostura Bitters) and the Bavende Fumoso (Gin, Sage Liqueur, Carpano Bianco, Celery and Smoked Olives).

In addition to a vast selection of handcrafted cocktails, Catania also boasts an all-Italian selection of draft, small and large bottle beers with the exception of Birra Catania, a Belgian/Italian herbed ale brewed exclusively for the restaurant in collaboration with San Diego-based New English Brewing Company.

Rounding out the beverage program, Catania’s all-Italian wine list is comprised of a curated selection of familiar names as well as more esoteric gems intended to satisfy everyone from the novice taster to the seasoned oenophile.

To complement Catania’s culinary and beverage offerings, award-winning Little Italy-based Bluemotif Architecture infused the space with a dynamic interplay of colors and textures, all evocative of time traversing a coastal Italian village. Modern in its approach, the restaurant’s intimate interior boasts eye-catching design elements from patterned ceramic tiles reminiscent of those found in Catania to olivewood veneers commonly seen throughout Sicily. As a nod to the volcanic ash and pristine coastline visible in much of Catania, located in Southern Italy, Bluemotif injected the restaurant with a color palette of muted greys and vibrant aqua to mimic the landscape of the city. Occupying more than half of the restaurants seating while capitalizing on Catania’s top floor vantage point, the restaurant’s expansive patio and outdoor bar space was thoughtfully designed in a minimalist way intended not to detract from the picturesque ocean views.

Catania is now open Sunday through Thursday from 11am to 9pm and on Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to midnight. Happy Hour runs daily from 3-6pm and again on Fridays and Saturdays from 10pm to close with pizza and select beer, wine and cocktail specials. 

For more information, visit and check out Catania's current menu below.