Pasquale heads north after La Jolla success

The Del Mar area’s newest addition to the restaurant and nightlife scene launched its grand opening on July 16, in time for the start of the new race season. Located at Polo Plaza, Pasquale Del Mar occupies the former sight of Scalini’s Restaurant, which closed its doors after 23 years in business.

The new owners include, Pasquale Angelotti of Pasquale La Jolla along with baseball great Steve Finley as operating partner and a group of backers rumored by industry sources to consist of several Padres players, the wife of a pro skater and three billionaires. The group has brought a mix of home style Italian cuisine into a contemporary environment in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the United States.

With a reported budget of $1 million, Amy Finley (wife of Steve Finley) of Finley Design has created a clean, sophisticated and upscale environment. A covered patio provides a bird’s eye view of the polo fields directly across the street. Two private dining rooms are available for special events. The Finley Lounge provides plenty of seating and offers direct access to the full service bar.

Considered one of the most bankable names in the restaurant business, Angelotti admitted that the recipe for his success is good food and getting the money back in the hands of his investors. Confessing that he can’t cook a thing, Angelotti said that his partner Vincenzo Mauri of Umbria handles matters related to the kitchen and menu. The two have worked together for the past 15 years.

“We’ve got a great relationship,” Angelotti said. “Now we only fight once every other week. We’re like a husband and wife team.”

Having proven himself on Prospect Street, considered to be the toughest street for a restaurant in San Diego, Angelotti said that he isn’t taking anything for granted. The new restaurant has become his number one priority. He isn’t relying on any formula to duplicate the success of his La Jolla location. “Although many of the players are the same, everything is different,” he said.

Angelotti’s approach to the restaurant business focuses on hospitality first and service second. The underlying belief being that if you’re nice to people, the service aspect will take care of itself. Several longtime employees said that if he doesn’t know your name on the way into the restaurant, he’d definitely know it on the way out.

“I’m stuck in the witness protection program,” said the accomplished and charismatic restaurateur as he described how it was that he came to settle in San Diego. Originally from the Bronx in New York, Angelotti was on his way to work in a restaurant in Scottsdale Arizona and only expected to stay here for three months. “I never made it,” he said.

While working as a waiter at Tuscany’s in La Costa, Bob Friedman offered to bankroll Pasquale if he ever decided to go into business for himself. Eventually taking him up on his offer, the two opened a restaurant in the Hyatt Regency La Jolla in 1994, which was later relocated next to George’s in the Village.