Chef Domenic Deluca is a seasoned chef and restaurant owner with a longtime passion for the food industry, serving as Owner of Domenic Deluca’s Fine Italian Dining in North Park since 1984. Deluca’s passion for food drove him to attend culinary school in San Francisco to further polish his cooking prowess in 1985. I sit down with Deluca at his current venture, Tap Room, where he currently acts as Executive Chef. Despite his long list of accomplishments, Deluca is down to earth and approachable, eager to discuss his experiences in the kitchen.
With over 20 years of restaurant ownership under his belt, Deluca applied his experiences to help other restaurants, mentoring restaurants all over San Diego County as a restaurant consultant for 10 years. Deluca helped restaurant owners realign their focus—analyzing everything from menus to customer service—providing solutions to make the restaurant more successful. Working with a variety of fine dining and casual restaurants specializing in everything from seafood to Italian cuisine; Chef Deluca’s passion for helping out his contemporaries stems from his relatable experience. He helped to point out mistakes and ultimately improve business for client restaurants.
Given his experience with both the business side and creative side of the restaurant industry, I asked how Deluca came to be a part of Tap Room: “I learned through word of mouth.” When he first began cooking at Tap Room, he kept the original menu, but as time went on he began to make changes: “I fine-tuned the menu, adding specials of the day. We usually have up to five or six specials per day.” Deluca has taken the daily specials to the next level by adding “Taco Tuesdays” which have proved to be very popular with locals.
Deluca points out that he has created a more upscale menu, elevating it from the stereotypical fried food found at many beer bars, adding Mediterranean influences: “although a little upscale for the neighborhood, the locals seem to like it.” He offers a description of The Grilled Chicken Foccacia Sub with herb basted flat bread, oven-roasted onions, Portobello mushrooms, pesto, mayo, and tomato balsamic olive oil vinaigrette-- a recent addition to the menu and customer favorite. He prefers using fresh ingredients over frozen, stating that “all of the food is fresh and never frozen."
Since the bar is specially focused on IPAs, I ask Deluca if any beer makes it into the food. He cites the Beer Mac & Cheese, his favorite dish on the menu, which is made with fresh local beer, Italian sausage, garlic, bacon, onions, and macaroni topped with white and yellow cheddar and bread crumbs.
With Chef Deluca in the kitchen be prepared to sip on your favorite local brew and chow down on something refined and tasty.