Rosemary Trattoria Is Serving Up Traditional Italian Fare In Coronado - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Home And Business

Rosemary Trattoria Is Serving Up Traditional Italian Fare In Coronado

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Posted: Friday, June 28, 2019 3:58 pm

Trattorias in Italy are a family style, casual dining establishment usually owned by a family which serves traditional comfort food. Rosemary Trattoria, recently opened on Orange Avenue, achieves that definition with a variety of traditional dishes that have been received very well by the community. In fact the comments flying around town are very positive describing Rosemary as serving “good food.”

Owner/Chef Alejandro “Alex” Martinez has captured the homemade food style trend with dishes like chicken parmigiana, lasagna and pizzas. Rosemary Trattoria replaced Fonda Don Diego, a Mexico City style restaurant Martinez opened two years ago.

Martinez, who is also part-owner of Chez Loma with Coronado couple Andres and Lorena Girault for the past seven years, wasn’t always planning on being chef and a restaurateur.

Although of Mexican background, Martinez didn’t live in Mexico until he was 10 years old. He was born in Uruguay and spent his early years in South America. His father worked for a food industry corporation and the family moved often. Martinez’s family regularly held corporate dinners for the company and hosted Mexican style meals with ingredients brought in from Mexico when the family was there on vacation. Martinez’s food tastes were shaped by the variety of countries he lived in.

“I grew up eating different cheeses, meats and was used to the gastronomy from different countries,” he said.

Food was a big part of his upbringing and the family liked combining traditions of different countries with theirs. For example, after the family lived in the U.S. and celebrated Thanksgiving, they continued to celebrate the holiday even when they were not in the country any longer.

Martinez went to university in Mexico City and became an industrial engineer. “I liked it, but was not exciting,” he said.

Back when Martinez was growing up, being a chef was not considered a job to inspire to. He had helped chefs at his home while they prepared dinners for guests so he had some experience and knew he enjoyed doing it.

When his sister realized what was going on with her brother, she encouraged him to pursue his dream. Martinez then visited the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, N. Y. He immediately fell in love with the school. “I was like a kid in candy store…I looked at the curriculum and I was overqualified, but had no cooking experience,” he recalled.

So before starting CIA, he took six months to work at the Four Seasons in Mexico City as an apprentice while still finishing the thesis for his engineering degree. “I didn’t get paid. I worked six days a week, eight hours a day,” he said.

After six months, he finished his degree and started at CIA. While studying there, he worked on Norwegian Cruise line for six months as part of his degree, then went back to school to finish the program. After he graduated from CIA he worked at a small luxury hotel an hour away from Hyde Park.

Eventually Martinez returned to Mexico City where he got married and owned a few restaurants. When he and his wife decided to move they first considered Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara, then he remembered the Giraults’ offer that if he ever wanted to own a restaurant in San Diego they could partner. So 10 years ago Martinez moved to San Diego and purchased Chez Loma with the Giraults.

When Martinez decided to open another restaurant in Coronado, he chose the location on Orange Avenue for Fonda Don Diego, now Rosemary.

“It’s family oriented, everybody feels relaxed, comfortable coming here. The ambiance we’re trying to create is to have you feel you are invited to a friend’s house except that you pay at the end,” he said about Rosemary.

The trattoria’s decor features Edison lights, rustic tables and chairs, pots with herbs, and checkered tablecloths on the outdoor tables. The two murals on opposite walls from the Fonda Don Diego days are still there and the bright colors and unique design were created by an artist from Baja.

Because Martinez serves food people are familiar with there are no surprises and no guessing. “Everybody goes for what they know,” he said. Calamari Fritti, Nico’s Arancini, and Salumi Board are some of the choices in the Small Plates section of the menu. Salads include Burrata made with burrata cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes, arugula, pesto sauce. The Beet Salad which features beets, burrata, arugula and pine nuts is a dish everyone raves about and it also happens to be Martinez’s personal favorite. The Caprese made with vine ripened tomatoes is also an excellent choice. Martinez makes it with vine ripened tomatoes he keeps at the restaurant until they are just ripe.

The tempting pasta dishes include Pasta & Meatballs. “It’s super good; we make our own and it can be an appetizer or a pasta dish,” said Martinez. Fresh pasta at Rosemary comes from Little Italy.

Shrimp Scampi pasta is another favorite. Pasta dishes range from $15 to $20. Entrees include Chicken Parmigiana, Cheese Lasagna and Lasagna Bolognese. Pizzas are served with a fresh salad, and diners can chose a variety of toppings. One of the pizzas is the Rosemary, which features meat ragu, fennel salami, rosemary, olive oil and fresh burrata cheese. Prices range from $16 to $18. Kids have a number of choices with their own menu and can pick their own type of pasta.

Desserts choices are Tiramisú, Cannoli and Mike’s NY Cheesecake. The wine list offers varieties from Italy, Argentina, Baja, as well as more local ones from California and Washington State.

The restaurant is currently open for dinner only but plans are ongoing to open for lunch as well.

Martinez is very busy at the new restaurant with the many jobs of an owner and a chef. He always takes time to stop at the diners’ tables to talk to them to hear what they have to say and always make improvements. The menu is still being being perfected and more dishes will be added in the future.

Rosemary Trattoria, 120 Orange Avenue. Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call 619-537-0054.

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