After Unexpected Tragedy, Del Mar's Dolce At The Highlands Reopens As Amici's Ristobar

June 27, 2018

Following the unexpected death of its owner, Dolce at the Highlands closed earlier this month, but close friends and business partners revived the restaurant and honored its previous founder with the opening of Amici's Ristobar, which grand opened this week within the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch in Del Mar's Carmel Valley.

A companion restaurant to Rancho Sante Fe's Dolce Pane E Vino, which opened in December 2009, Dolce at the Highlands originally opened in February 2016 and became an immediate hit for its seasonal, California-Italian fare complimented by warm and friendly service. Dolce was the product of Dr. Anthony Smith and longtime Vigilucci's Restaurant Group executive and general manager Steve Flowers. When Dr. Smith unexpectedly passed away late last year at age 57 due to complications with hemophilia, close friends and business partners Chris (who was previously CEO of Bumble Bee Seafoods before a federal indictment forced him to step down) and Louise Lischewski and Eric Nielsen decided to purchase his share of the Del Mar restaurant and honor their friend with a new concept. Smith's widow, Erin Murphy Smith, retained sole ownership of Dolce Pane E Vino.

Meaning "friends" in Italian, Amici’s captures the spirit that Dr. Smith hoped to embody in his restaurants. In addition to the new name, the space underwent a total interior redesign with an updated menu that includes new items and old favorites from Dolce. The neighborhood-focused Italian eatery offers an approachable and relaxed ambiance with a casual yet upscale feel and renewed outdoor patio. A native San Diegan, Executive Chef Rhoelle Gabirelle designed a refreshed menu with the help of consulting chef Mario Cassineri (BiCE, Madison on Park, Officine Buona Forchetta) that is inspired by the owners' travels through Italy and Gabirelle's tenure at Newport Beach's Andrea at Pelican Hill.

Amici's offers a menu of Southern Italian dishes complimented by California's fresh, seasonal produce and seafood, as well as handmade pasta prepared fresh daily. Menu highlights include Linguine Frutti Di Mare served with crab, mussels, shrim, clams, scallop, shallot, pomodoro tomato, chili, white wine and fresh herbs; Veal Milanese with arugala, cherry tomato and balsamic vinegar; and Angry Chicken with red chili and yogurt marinated Jidori chicken served with roasted fingerling potatoes, broccolini and green chili crema. There are also a variety of pizzas, as well as a full bar.

Amici's Ristobar is located at 5980 Village Way, Space B106 in Carmel Valley. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11am-10pm, Friday from 11am-11pm, Saturday from 10am-11pm and Sunday from 10am-10pm. For more information, visit amicisristobar.com