By Claire Harline
Staff WriterCrush Italian Cuisine and Lounge, which opened this month at 437 S. Highway 101, offers a happy hour just like many places in Solana Beach. But it stands out above the rest for offering what could be considered a “happier hour” on Wednesdays through Saturdays — with late-night happy hour prices from 10 p.m. to midnight, and live contemporary and jazz music all night.
The new addition to the Solana Beach dining scene is an extension of a sister restaurant of the same name in Chico, Calif., which John Luciano, a longtime Rancho Santa Fe resident and partner in that operation, wanted to share with Solana Beach.
“The response has been really positive so far and people love our food,” said Luciano, president of Luciano Development Inc. “People feel like Solana Beach needs a place like this, a place for live music.”
A former disc jockey and musician himself, Luciano said he has a personal love of music and wants to share that with the community. A music schedule will be available soon.
“Crush is for people who enjoy live music in a comfortable environment, not a clubby scene,” he said. “Music is my life, and it’s something Solana Beach needed.”
Crush offers a mixture of classic Italian fare and farmers’ market finds, and will soon be open for lunch and Sunday brunch.
Since the restaurant’s opening, Luciano said a few of the menu’s hottest items include the scampi prawns ($8), meatballs ($10.5) and chicken piccatta ($19.50).
The bar offers 10 beers on tap and more than 160 wines that were strategically chosen by the house sommelier.
The 4,800-square-foot lounge and kitchen fills the space that was once Pacific Coast Grill. Luciano and local designer Karin Clark of InDesign Interiors brought in local artist Gustaf Anders Rooth to craft interesting chairs made from discarded French oak barrels, and local designer and engraver Soul Ryde constructed modern wall panels and modular wall hangings to add to the decor. The first thing guests see when approaching the restaurant at night is a community table on the front patio, featuring a modern fire element running down the center of the table to warm outdoor diners.
To both complete the experience and illustrate Crush’s combination of classic and modern, checks are presented in a vintage, classic hardback book, in which guests can leave messages and share their experiences.
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