Osteria Panevino and Greystone

Willamina visiting Panevino.

Osteria Panevino is a Tuscan restaurant in the Gaslamp of downtown San Diego (on 5th Ave. between F & G Streets.)  They participate in Restaurant Week and give out gift certificates on the radio.  I visited for lunch three times spread out over a long stretch of time and brought my dog each time (and a human once.)

At first they didn’t have anything labelled “vegan” on their menu, but they had a “vegetarian” section if I remember correctly.  I got the gluten-free veggie pasta (“no cheese, no butter”) my first two visits.  Their pasta is great and house-made. Ironically, I saw the same couple having lunch both times (they totally weren’t vegan.)

McFadden’s is across the street from Osteria Panevino

Eventually they changed their menu and took that pasta dish right off the menu. But now they have a “VF” (vegan friendly) omelette on the menu (under the “Breakfast” section), which I would have tried, but they were out of tofu that day.  However, the good news is that you can order the pasta with marinara sauce even though the menu says “Fettuccine Alfredo Spaghetti.”  They seem to only bring out bread if you ask, but I guess it all depends.

I also got bottomless mimosas each time and they’re strong.  The carafe they bring you could be large or small, so be prepared.

Greystone

Greystone steakhouse is their nearby sister restaurant and I got a similar veggie pasta dish as I did at Osteria Panevino, which was a modification of their shrimp pasta. (Ewwww!) (I’m proud to say I’ve never eaten shrimp in my life!)  They had musicians playing downstairs and dining upstairs.  I haven’t been there in ages.  They should go vegan!

Downstairs at Greystone

You know, I respect the freegans and all, but I prefer to dine for free in fancy restaurants than eating out of garbage cans like George Costanza. How about you?

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Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill: Don’t Resist the Vegan Demands

Willamina visiting Sammy's Woodfired Pizza

Willamina visiting Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza

Prior to winning gift certificates to Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill (locations in California and Nevada), I had heard of it from a restaurant guide by the San Diego chapter of Last Chance for Animals (revised 04/03/2012.) However, I didn’t visit until years later after winning.

When I first visited in early 2016, their menu indicated vegan options (01/28/16.)  The key had a V for Vegan and a leaf emoji for Vegetarian.  (It also had and still denotes GF for gluten-free.)  However, on subsequent visits I noticed that they took “vegan” right off the menu, which seemed passive aggressive.  Now the V is for “vegetarian” even though cheese aint a veggie (see their latest revised menu, 01/18/17.)  The waitress, however, informed me that none of the ingredients had changed and thus, whatever was vegan before was still vegan (that would be Baba Ghanoush, Edamame, Hummus, Wok’d Sesame Shishito Peppers, and Red Quinoa salad.)  No, not pizza!

BABA GHANOUSH. Yum.

BABA GHANOUSH. Yum.

Thus, I always got Baba Ghanoush and Red Quinoa salad. Both are quite good.  However, I felt that the salad had too much raw onion in it.  I once read in a cookbook called Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan that people consume too much onion and garlic and I agree (because then you can’t share with your dog!)  (By the way, the Scripps Ranch restaurant has a patio where you can bring your dog, but they don’t seem to like it.)

quinoia-salad

WILD ARUGULA AND RED QUINOA SALAD

Not until my last visit (after working a full day of temp labor) did I find out that I could order a vegan pizza.  At the Del Mar restaurant, an exceptionally knowledgeable waitress, Rachel S., explained how to modify a Margherita pizza to make it vegan.  I should have taken notes because I can’t remember what she said exactly, but it was something like rejecting the roasted garlic sauce, doing something with tomato sauce (maybe replacing marinara?), and substituting vegan cheese for a $2 surcharge.  Well, it was great!  I highly recommend that you win gift certificates on Entercom stations.

Vegan version Margherita pizza with Daiya Vegan Cheese

Vegan version Margherita pizza with Daiya Vegan Cheese

Sammy’s also sells cocktails with Han alcohol, so I decided to do my research and find out if it’s vegan friendly.  In March 2016, Michael Bacco of ProBev, Inc. said, “Yes. As are most all beverage alcohol products, HAN is vegan. No animal ingredients are involved.”  That’s good news, but are “most” beverage alcohol products vegan?  I hope so!

Margarita with Han tequila

Margarita with Han tequila

Here’s another tip about gift certificates.  If you win one that doesn’t have an expiration date, try to use it sooner than later because the restaurant could go out of business!  That happened to me with two (2) sushi restaurants, actually!  However, it turned out that one of them, Roppongi, was owned by the Ladeki Restaurant Group, the same company that owns Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill.  Thus, I contacted them and was pleasantly informed by Shannon Grillo from the Las Vegas Office that I could redeem my Roppongi certificates at Sammy’s.  Yay.