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DINING: Pacifica Del Mar

Scallops with a white bean puree.
Photo by Steven Persitza

It was the best of times, it was the…well, it was never the worst of times but things did go from exhilaration to impatience in the span of an evening. Pacifica Del Mar is a well-established, iconic restaurant. You want location? How about being nestled in the heart of delightful Del Mar amidst luxury shops and delectable dining establishments? Pacifica is a frequent scene for locals and business folk. This was affirmed by the steadily growing dinner crowd on a random Tuesday night. Add an amazing view gazing over the ocean with the sun setting on the horizon and you have an evening to remember.

Arriving for an early dinner, we had the pleasure of owning the place. Our choice of tables was endless, and we fixated on the perfect setting at the edge of the patio against the glass wall protecting us from the elements, but allowing the scenery to dazzle our senses. The ocean is a stone’s throw away, with the sun just beginning its lazy decline into the sea. Add a lovely cocktail and all is perfect.

Ann was our endearing and gracious attendant for the night and she kicked the evening off with smiles, composure and swift responses. Order a drink, it's there in 30 seconds. What are the specials? Ann has them eloquently described before you even view the menu. Ask for Ann if they didn’t already slam her withfive tables at the same time as they did while we were there. Hostess training please.

Pacifica has a very unassuming décor. White linens grace the simple table setting. The bar is lively upon entering and immediately creates a friendly, fun vibe. You know good times are ahead. Napkins encased in wooden fishes create a whimsical touch and a humble style is cultivated.

Pacifica Del Mar is all about seafood. Yes they have the obligatory steak and chicken dishes but why go to seafood joint and order land dwellers? Just let the fish have their day in the sun (or sunset) and relish the unique flavors and offerings that Pacifica is famous for. Plus new chef, Thomas “Tommy” DiMella has taken over in the kitchen and is prepared to take Pacifica to a whole new level. Previously of Pamplemousse, he clearly knows his way around a kitchen and the most exotic of ingredients.

Come just for the halibut.

Photo by Steven Persitza

Let’s start out with the bread. Not the usual brand of table rolls here. Instead, enjoy the house-made sourdough with bountiful olives in a thick and hearty concoction with the olives delivering just the right amount of kick. Our recommendation: request some olive oil for dipping. Speaking of kick, be sure to sample one of their signature martinis. The Oregon black raspberry lemonade was a sweet blast of flavor while the crushed ginger martini delivered multi-layered flavors and spice. Both were wonderfully creative and refreshing.

Starters presented an interesting variety of cultures, most of them seafood related, yet with distinct differences like Indian mulligatawny soup (roasted chicken, curry, wild rice; $8) which was scrumptious and completely unexpected for this venue. The “special-of-the-night” appetizer of scallops with a white bean puree, fennel and pine nuts was dead on. Magnificent consistency with a soft, yet toothsome texture. The puree was a tad bland but the overall flavor balanced the dish nicely ($12).

Entrees included the sautéed Alaskan halibut (asparagus, quinoa, sundried tomato, olives, mint, tomato-mascarpone sauce - $35) and the grilled long-line swordfish (warm potato salad, bacon, Italian kale, grain mustard crème fresh - $29). The halibut was mild yet robust, enhanced by the perfect balance of the seasonings and well prepared fish. Equally delicious was the swordfish with its ample flavor and a dish we’d order again.

Pacifica Del Mar captures exactly what the San Diego area is all about. Beautiful scenery, divine seafood and a hip, constantly vibrant venue. We are excited for the new chef DiMella and his creations, sure to add some new sparkle to the menu. That alone makes it worthy of another visit for some sun, fun and great eats.

The Good: Can’t beat the view, although as the sun sets it does get a little blinding and hot.

The Bad: Service went from 60 mph to 10 mph as the servers got over-seated.

Details »
  • City: Del Mar
  • Phone: 858-792-0476
  • Name: Pacifica Del Mar
  • Address: 1555 Camino Del Mar