The super prolific Tao Group Hospitality, whose restaurants and nightlife venues span the globe and include Herringbone here in La Jolla, is extending one of its well-known brands to San Diego where it replaces Searsucker, which shuttered in Summer 2020 after a decade in the Gaslamp Quarter. The downtown corner space is reopening in June as Lavo, Tao’s glitzy Italian destination, and the new Fifth Avenue outpost should align more its splashy relations in Las Vegas and New York City than the more restaurant-focused iteration that recently opened on LA’s Sunset Strip.
The 235-seat, loft-like restaurant will have a luxe SoCal vibe, with an open kitchen, a large bar set up for sports watching, and a plush dining room decorated in custom artwork by longtime collaborator Peter Tunney.
Starting off with dinner, Lavo San Diego will launch lunch and brunch service later this summer. Created by chief culinary officer Ralph Scamardella, the menu leans towards Southern Italian classics, from baked clams to tagliatelle al limone and veal chop marsala. There are also salads, brick-oven pizzas, seafood, and grilled meat, ranging from a 24-ounce prime aged rib eye to chicken under a brick. Lavo’s also known for a few over-to-top dishes, like its hefty one pound wagyu meatball and a 20-layer chocolate cake. The Italian influence continue at the bar, where the cocktail list includes negronis and gin and tonics made with Italian bergamot liqueur.