Salt & Water Pizza Bar & Restaurant To Open In Former Empirehouse Urban Palate Building In Hillcrest

December 7, 2019

The team behind Bernini's Bistro in La Jolla has taken over the 3,800 square-foot building in Hillcrest that last housed Empirehouse Urban Palate for the opening of Salt & Water, an artisan pizza shop, bar and Italian eatery.

After emigrating from Istanbul, Turkey in the late 1980s with only $400 to his name, Hamdi Gumustekin worked at area restaurants, saved his money and bought what was then Bernini's Café in 1998, which at the time only served breakfast. In 2000, he added lunch and dinner and changed the name of the space to Bernini's Bistro. Following Empirehouse closing in Hillcrest early this year, Gumustekin took over the two-story standalone building for a new concept centered around pizza and pasta.
Salt & Water is expected to open in early 2020 within the 1950s-era standalone building at 127 University Avenue. The eatery will have a full bar and a menu featuring Neapolitan-style pizza and fresh made pasta. It is believed there will be a bar on the base floor with a side outdoor patio and a dining area on the second story.