First, there were tacos. Now, there are sandwiches and salads. San Diego-based cooking aficionado Sam ‘The Cooking Guy’ Zien will open a second eatery next year in a space that’ll be part of the Little Italy Food Hall, just steps away from his other restaurant.
Zien – partnering with local hospitality group Grain & Grit Collective – plans to open a restaurant dubbed Graze by Sam the Cooking Guy in early 2020 in an area directly across from the Little Italy Food Hall at the Piazza della Famiglia. The nearly 1,650-square-foot space is an extension of the food hall and will be located at 555 West Date St.
Zien’s new eatery will also boast a full bar – with indoor and outdoor components – and will specialize in organic wines, craft beer and cocktails, and a bottle shop. The plan is to hold wine and beer tastings in the space, too.
Meanwhile, the menu at Graze will feature a mix of globally-inspired sandwiches and salads during the day. At night, the menu will morph – as the restaurant’s name suggests – into a “grazing” menu of sharable plates.
In an announcement Tuesday, Grain & Grit Collective said Graze will have a cozy, laid-back, living room-style vibe “meant to embody Zien’s home, where his passion for feeding people first developed.” Some of the décor was even hand-picked by Zien and his family.
“We want to serve items that I would serve you in my own home,” Zien said in a press release.
And, for those who follow Zien’s cooking career, his home is a huge part of his brand.
Zien, who has authored several cookbooks, is also known for his TV show, “Sam the Cooking Guy,” which has been shot out of his house for the past 17 years. Fans enjoy his “everyday guy” approach to cooking; often, he cooks with whatever he can find in his fridge, including quirky ingredients that at first don’t make sense, but after the first bite, somehow do.
Graze is Zien’s second project with Grain & Grit Collective. His first-ever eatery – Not Not Tacos – debuted at the Little Italy Food Hall in the summer of 2018. That restaurant remains in its original location at the food hall.
By the way, Zien – who has won 15 Emmys over the years – is known to host live cooking demos at the Little Italy Food Hall. When he’s not cooking on TV or in Little Italy, he whips up dishes and shares the process on his YouTube channel, which has more than 1.2 million subscribers.
The Little Italy Food Hall (LIFH) – located next to the Piazza della Famiglia, on West Date Street between India and Columbia streets – opened in summer 2018. In January 2019, it ranked No. 7 among USA Today’s “10Best Readers’ Choice Awards,” in the category of “Best Food Hall.”
Operated by Grain & Grit Collective, the food emporium features six stations offering everything from tacos, pizza, Italian food, seafood and sandwiches to Japanese and Asian comfort food.
The LIFH also features a central bar cranking out craft cocktails, local craft brews and wine, as well as a mobile outdoor chef’s area where pop-up cooking demonstrations are held, sometimes by Sam the Cooking Guy himself.
The LIFH is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.