Toscana Cafe Shutters While Owner Opens New Italian Restaurant In San Diego's Gaslamp

January 21, 2021

Toscana Cafe & Wine Bar has permanently closed in the San Diego Gaslamp but the owner has opened a new Italian restaurant Il Sogno Italiano Ristorante in a nearby space. 

Local restaurateur Sean Shoja opened Toscana Café & Wine Bar in 2007 on the corner of 5th Avenue and K Street in San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter. Born in Tehran, Iran and raised in Montreal, Canada, Shoja got his start in the restaurant industry working in a bagel factory. Sean opened his first bakery in Miami at the age of twenty-three and eventually made his way to San Diego where he opened Woody’s Bagel Factory in La Jolla before selling the business 3 years later.  In 2005, Sean bought Café Lulu on F Street, which claimed to be the oldest coffee shop in downtown San Diego, and in 2007, purchased a coffee shop and renovated it to reopen as Toscana Café & Wine Bar. In 2012, Sean expanded his vision to the corner of 4th Avenue & F Street with the opening of French-Asian restaurant Red Light District, which he changed to Latin-inspired tapas concept ViVA Bar + Kitchen in 2013 and then rebranded to now-defunct All American Burgers. 

After permanently closing his 14-year-old Toscana Cafe, Shoja has soft opened his new concept Il Sogno Italiano in the 2-tier, loft-like space that last housed Machu Picchu Bar & Restaurant in the Gaslamp. Meaning "The Italian Dream", Il Sogno Italiano is a casual, family-style eatery with a menu of Italian appetizers, Neapolitan pizzas, handmade pasta, seasonal entrees and desserts. The restaurant also has a full bar with wine, local beer, and craft cocktails. 

Il Sogno Italiano is now open Wednesday through Sunday from 4pm to 9pm at 314 Fifth Avenue in San Diego's Gaslamp. For more information, visit and check out the menu below.