Gold Finch, A Modern Jewish Deli, Opens In La Jolla
We need more good Jewish delis around San Diego, and with the opening of Gold Finch, we’ve got one!
Helping to fill a void in Jewish-inspired culinary options in San Diego and drawing on her ancestral roots, Tracy Borkum, principal of Urban Kitchen Group (CUCINA urbana, CUCINA enoteca, Artifact) and Chef-Partner Tim Kolanko, opened the doors to Gold Finch, a modern delicatessen and full-service restaurant, at 3040 Science Park Road in Torrey Pines.
A resurgence of Jewish delis nationwide
Gold Finch’s debut coincides with a recent post-pandemic resurgence of Jewish delis and restaurants across the nation.
In an article published by the New York Times, it was reported that there were “an estimated 3,000 such delis in New York City in the 1930s. Today, there are just a few dozen, according to the New York Historical Society.”
Now, Gold Finch joins a new collection of eateries translating Jewish culinary traditions through a modern lens such as Mile End Delicatessen in Brooklyn, NYC, Call Your Mother in Washington D.C., and even the vegan-friendly Ben & Esther’s in Portland, Oregon.
“This has been a long-awaited passion project, and I’m excited to share our interpretation of what a modern delicatessen in a great city can be. San Diego doesn’t boast many Jewish delicatessens, you can count them on one hand,” says Borkum. “Historically, Jewish delis were the cornerstones of the neighborhood, and they represented a sense of identity for people, the feeling of being at home. With Gold Finch, I wanted to give that culture, that tradition, a little more relevance and share some of my favorite childhood memories with food.”
Rooted in Jewish immigrant culture and cuisine, Gold Finch focuses on recontextualizing staples of Ashkenazi and Sephardic-style cooking. The culinary program employs the same degree of rigor and slow food ethos associated with Tracy’s other Urban Kitchen Group brands and is led by Chef-Partner Tim Kolanko alongside Chefs Jeff Armstrong and Frankie Becerra.
An expansive menu offers a glossary of Jewish terms and descriptions to assist guests in their selection, and standouts run the gamut from twists on the traditional to bakery staples and a hefty selection of sandwiches—all while incorporating healthy, seasonal, and in some cases Mexican ingredients as a nod to Baja’s regional influences.
Shareable towers encourage build-your-own spreads with house-made bagels and bialys adorned with lox, cured meats or smoked fish, and a quick-service deli counter offers more than a dozen a la carte nosh items including trout rillete, pickled herring, smoked white fish, chicken liver pâte, and pastrami.
Below are a few notable highlights and team favorites from the menu:
Rise + Shine
A collection of egg-centric dishes alongside updated Jewish favorites like shashuka with poached egg, tomatillo, spinach, and za’atar served with house-made nine-grain toast, a loaded giant latke with fried egg, mushroom, broccoli rabe, horseradish, and labneh, or a torn challah french toast with blueberry, blackberry, lemon curd cream, and maple syrup.
Assortment of house-baked goods including bialys (red onion/poppy, brie/bacon, fig/goat cheese), knish (mushroom/goat cheese, pastrami rueben, spinach/feta/tomato), and baklava made with rose water and cardamon.
It’s A Tradition
Borkum’s grandmother’s beloved recipe for matzo ball soup joins other staples like berbere spice fried artichoke with a sumac aioli, chicken schnitzel with artichoke, tomato, arugula, and lemon caper vinaigrette, in addition to a seasonal mushroom noodle kugel.
Nine piled high creations including pastrami, bbq pastrami, or hand carved corned beef on rye, but also Italian-inspired sandwiches like a mortadella/coppa/prosciutto cotto muffeletta with provolone, giardiniera relish, basil, and house aioli on focaccia or the roasted pork with broccoli rabe and smoked provolone on ciabatta.
Short + Sweet
A nod to her bubbe’s specialty, Tracy encourages the banana fritters with cinnamon sugar, halvah ice cream and toffee coffee syrup, the arborio rice pudding featuring mango, passionfruit, pistachio, and candied lemon, or the ricotta blintz with apple, huckleberry, and creme fraiche.
Serving retro soda fountain favorites including a chocolate phosphate and seasonal pumpkin egg cream in addition to a selection of wine and beer, Dark Horse coffee, Paru teas, and smoothies.
Taking a page out of Tracy’s hometown and London’s Jewish epicenters, Golders Green and Finchley neighborhoods, for which the restaurant was named, Gold Finch has opened as the culinary anchor of Muse, a new LEED and WELL certified Class A life science campus in the Torrey Pines area of La Jolla—notably home to San Diego’s largest Jewish communities.
Offering indoor and outdoor full-service seating, the 1,800 square-foot space was artfully designed by Borkum to reflect a lighter, more modern delicatessen vibe. Traditional Jewish delis of yesteryear were decidedly masculine spaces, often named after Frankles, Bens, Levis—and, lest we forget, their sons and brothers.
Tracy considered what it meant to her to own a modern Jewish delicatessen as a woman and how that may evolve the stereotype of a traditional deli environment.
She designed the space with an intention of ‘lightness’, incorporating a neutral palate of white stone, natural white oak, organic wallpaper, and soft grey-hued light fixtures and furnishings.
A hybrid marketplace offers Jewish cookbooks, specialty food, and decorative elements, providing guests with a little retail therapy while dining on-site.
Tracy Borkum is widely considered one of Southern California’s most respected restaurateurs. Having founded Urban Kitchen Group (UKG) in 1995, her collective is credited with helping to blaze a trail for the emerging hospitality progression in San Diego and Orange County with concepts including CUCINA urbana (Michelin Bib Gourmand), cucina SORELLA (Michelin Bib Gourmand), CUCINA enoteca, and full-service industry leader, Urban Kitchen Catering.
Within the last 12 months, UKG’s collective has doubled with major projects in San Diego including Urban Kitchen food pavilion and marketplace at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, ARTIFACT and CRAFT Café inside Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, a recently acquired catering facility and café, and a forthcoming restaurant at The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Chef-Partner Tim Kolanko is a force in San Diego’s slow food movement, Tim boasts more than 30 years of experience working alongside industry innovators including legendary James Beard Award recipient, Stuart Brioza, and James Beard nominee, Charles Dale, before making a name for himself in San Diego at notable concepts including A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines (“Top Ten Farm to Table Restaurants in the U.S.” by Epicurious and “America’s Top Restaurant” by Zagat), Coronado’s Stake Chophouse + Bar, and San Diego’s premier Liberty Public Market. Alongside his partnership at Gold Finch, Tim is the Executive Chef of Tracy’s Urban Kitchen Group.
See you there…a lot!
Gold Finch is located at 3040 Science Park Road and is currently open Monday through Friday 8AM to 4PM for all-day breakfast and lunch. A weekend brunch will debut soon. Gold Finch also offers full-service catering and delivery.
See you there, San Diego!