Chef Accursio Lota To Take Over Cardamom Cafe In North Park For New Italian Eatery & Pasta Shop

July 20, 2019

After 11 years in business, San Diego bakery & breakfast favorite Cardamom Cafe will soon close its doors, but the space will quickly be filled by former Solare Executive Chef and one-time pasta world champion Accursio Lota, who will open a scratch-made Italian eatery and pasta shop in the North Park space.

Founded in 2008 by first-time restaurateur Joanne Sherif, Cardamom Cafe became a neighborhood destination for breakfast and lunch dishes based around fresh-baked pastries. Favorites have included the almond croissants and the spicy jalapeño cream cheese croissants. After recently celebrating 11 years in business, Joanne decided it is time to close Cardamom, and she will be doing so this summer after finding a replacement tenant in local Italian chef Accursio Lota.

"It is with a full heart that I am writing to announce the impending sale of Cardamom Café and Bakery," said Joannne Sherif in a statement posted to Facebook. "We, (me, my kids and crew) are so grateful for the 11 years that Cardamom has called North Park home. We have had the pleasure of baking for and serving the best customers/friends ever. Many of you have forever worked your way into our hearts and we will miss your smiles, children and fur babies. Together, we have shared so many meals, swapped stories, hugs and tears. Alas, 2019 is a year of change. Though it may be painful it also rings of promise. The youngest two of my five children are graduating University and moving on. It will be the first time in over 31 years that I am not responsible for anyone but me (and our fat cat Stanley)."

We reported last year that Solare Executive Accursio Lota was looking to lock down a lease on a central San Diego space in order to develop and open his very own Italian restaurant. Originally from Sicily, Chef Accursio first entered the epicurean spotlight when at age 18 he was chosen to represent his school at a national culinary competition. He then went on to work with famed Chef Sergio Mei at the Four Seasons in Milan. Accursio moved to California when he was 22 to work at the Biltmore Four Seasons in Santa Barbara, where at one point he catered a fundraiser for then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama at Oprah Winfrey's home. The first restaurant Accursio cooked at in San Diego was at The Marine Room in La Jolla. In 2012, Accursio and his wife started an underground fine dining restaurant club called Limone, where they designed pop-up events with themes related to the seasons. In November 2012, Accursio became the Executive Chef at Solare in Liberty Station, where he has received numerous awards and accolades during his tenure, including winning the 6th edition of the Barilla Pasta World Championship in 2017 and earlier last year receiving the prestigious Three Gamberi acknowledgement from Gambero Rosso - Italy’s top food & wine rating group that is frequently compared to the Michelin Star system.

Cardamom Cafe will continue to operate under regular hours through most of this summer, with the impending closure set to occur sometime this August. Once Accursio moves into the space, he intends to renovate it to make a modern Italian restaurant and pastificio, with a menu centered around fresh made pasta and Italian comfort foods. The restaurant will also serve beer and wine. Accursio hopes to open his yet-to-be named concept (currently dubbed "Lotaria") by this fall.

Cardamom Cafe is located at 2977 Upas Street in North Park. For more information, visit cardamomsandiego.com and check out Joanne's full statement below.