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The Sculpture Court Café

Sculpture Court Cafe by Giuseppe
Courtesy photo

In early July, Balboa Park received an infusion of Italian flair. Giuseppe Ciuffa, owner and chef of the Museum Café in La Jolla, has taken over The Sculpture Court Café—and re-named it Sculpture Court Café by Giuseppe.

Given Ciuffa’s background—he was born in Cori, Italy, a small village just outside Rome—the concept of opening a European bistro was a no-brainer. He also runs a high end catering operation, Giuseppe Restaurants and Fine Catering.

The new restaurant uses the available wide sidewalks to lend the ambience of a Euro street café. Inside, half of the restaurant is casual dining. Patrons have the choice of dining on Niman Ranch steak and pomme frite or a “salume” plate—a wonderful array of Italian cured meats, mustards and bread.

The other half is a deli style “grab and go” offering high end sandwiches (including his Museum Café favorite, the Ultimate Grilled Cheese--pesto, prosciutto, mozzarella on sour-dough bread), as well as soups, salads and a complete deli-style glass case with fine items available for sale in quart and pint sizes. Patrons can dine in the restaurant or al fresco in the sculpture garden.

When not cooking and/or eating, Ciuffa is training. A tri-athlete and spinning instructor, he believes in sumptuous but healthy foods. He learned to cook initially from his mother, a typical Italian mama, the spitting image of Picasso’s paintings of Gertrude Stein. Ciuffa looks a lot the same. He has big hands, excited eyes, a barrel chest, a bold personality and a sexy Italian accent. His food has as many varieties of flavors as his interests, but keeping food simple isthe main goal.

“My style is clean and fresh," he says. "It’s seasonal but does not compromise on quality. You can be showy in the presentation, and still stay true to your niche. The quality of your ingredients is what’s most important."

Sculpture Court Café by Giuseppe fills a void. San Diegans can enjoy great food without leaving Balboa Park. With his years of success next to the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla, this new venture is a natural symmetry of art and food.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-702-6373
  • Venue: Sculpture Court Café
  • Address: 1450 El Prado