Come taste... the elegance of new Savoie French-Italian Eatery

Phillip Brents

Fri July 25, 2014 10:47am

It’s true. There really isn’t any restaurant quite like Savoie in the San Diego South County region.
The French-Italian eatery, which opened in early June, offers something for every taste — and every pocketbook.
“If you can’t get to Europe this summer, come and visit us,” general manager Mario Valerio said. “We have something for everyone — from a romantic candlelight dinner to a children’s menu and pizza.” 
Located at 2015 Birch Road, Ste. 720, in Otay Ranch Town Center, Savoie (pronounced sa-vwa) caters to both the gourmet palate and more grounded tastes. But it is the little touches that make the restaurant stand apart.
Like the hanging moss ball “chandeliers” in the main dining area and the governor’s ball gown in the women’s restroom. Like the outdoor wind-protected patio that beckons large parties, and the comfort zone fire pits that sit under a perpetually cascading waterfall.
But then, Savoie strives to be different from its sister restaurants in the Karina’s Group.
“We’re trying to create something different from the other Karina’s restaurants that have already mastered the concept of Mexican seafood,” Valerio said. “We want to bring a fine quality family restaurant to Chula Vista at a nice, reasonable price.”
The restaurant, which can seat 375 at one time, is clearly a showcase venue. It is not stuffy, yet it is elegant.
In all, there are three outdoor patios that ring the building, plus an interior lounge in the bar area that opens to an adjacent exterior lounge.
In turn, the double-sided bar opens to comfortable booth seating, a chilled wine room (kept at 57 degrees) and a private presidential dining room on the other side of the restaurant.
The main dining area also includes community and family tables that, in turn, open to the wind-blocked, upscale, outdoor party patio that is furnished with chandeliers and movable sofas.
Earth tones abound throughout the restaurant, accented by the hanging moss balls.
“I wanted to have the space impart a feeling of being outside,” said co-owner David Contreras Curiel, who personally laid out the restaurant’s interior decor. “It makes you feel like you’re outside and inside at the same time. With the double-sided bar and private dining room and the outside patios, you feel like you’re in a fairy tale.
“I wanted this to be a place where I would want to go and stay. I like to think of the restaurant as a hotel. The only thing missing is your room. We have it all.”
Savoie is named for the French part of the historic region of Savoy that sits in the Rhone-Alpes region of the French Alps. It borders Italy on its eastern side — thus the restaurant’s emphasis on French and Italian cuisine.
The lunch and dinner menus are surprisingly extensive though not exclusive. Prices range from $8 to $15 for lunch and $12 to $64 for dinner.
Valerio said the staff strives to satisfy any customer’s personal whim.
Feeling elegant? Try the steak Diane, a 10-oz. filet mignon pounded thinly and sautéed in clarified butter, shallots, Dijon mustard, chives and flambéed in Bristol cream sherry and Courvoisier cognac.
Or how about the lollipop lamb — New Zealand lamb served alla Milanese? Or even the signature bone in tomahawk steak for two — a 28-oz. rib-eye steak charbroiled and finished in the restaurant’s state-of-the-art oven?
Souvie does filet mignon quite well. The 10-oz. filet is charbroiled to perfection, served on a baked Portobello mushroom topped with a port wine reduction.
If you’re in for a quick lunch, try the cannelloni, calamari fritti or fettuccine a la Bolognese.
The cannelloni, one of the restaurant’s specialty dishes, is best described as the Italian version of the enchilada — fresh homemade pasta rolled and stuffed with lobster, crab and shrimp, then baked and topped with an Absolut vodka pink sauce.
The fettuccine dish features ground veal and filet mignon cooked in a delicate tomato sauce with a touch of herbs.
Popping in prior to a movie or show? Appetizers and desserts will keep hunger pangs at bay. Both the tiramisu ($8) and French pistachio torte ($8) are highly recommended desserts — the torte is a balance of near perfection.
The bar features more than a dozen specialty drinks. Happy hour specials are tailored to late night patrons — 3:30 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close. Caviar anyone?
The restaurant’s menu is founded on variety — seafood, pastas, salads, soups, meats and pizza. The Italian cuisine features both northern and southern Italian cooking.
The art of simplicity is complex here. The spaghetti and meatball will amaze you — a baseball-size meatball made from fresh ground filet mignon sitting on a mound of delicious pasta. It’s both picture perfect and palate pleasing.
Savoie hopes to offer Chula Vistans what they crave. The restaurant’s executive team includes brothers Arnulfo and David Contreras Curiel, Alejandro Navarette and Valerio. The four men meet each month to formulate ideas about the community’s culinary tastes.
“Chula Vistans like quality food at a reasonable price,” Valerio said. “They do want somewhere to go to feel elegant but they also want somewhere to go to get a quick lunch. They also like variety — things like seafood and meats. We’re trying to find that common denominator. We want to serve Chula Vistans like they want to be served.”
The Contreras Curiel family launched its first restaurant in Spring Valley in 1981. The current Karina’s flagship restaurant, located at 986 Broadway on Chula Vista’s west side, is celebrating its 23rd year in business.
Other Karina’s Mexican seafood restaurants are located in National City (1705 Highland Ave.) and Eastlake (866 Eastlake Parkway, Suite 110). The newest member of the Karina’s Group, La Tequila, is set to open soon at 89 E. Bonita Road in Chula Vista.