Friday, September 18, 2020

Costa Azul and Island Pasta Navigate Unprecedented Time

Carol and Brant Sarber are long-time Coronado restaurant owners.

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Life is too short to eat anything less than tasty food, and although many of us are good cooks and others have risen to the occasion in these times of the stay-at-home order, it is nice to have the option of ordering food from a restaurant for a change of pace. We are lucky that a dozen or so restaurants in Coronado are offering the option of take-out food right now, including two long-time favorites Costa Azul and Island Pasta, owned by locals Brant and Carol Sarber.

They originally opened Costa Azul in 1999 at 1031 Orange Avenue and closed for about a year and a half after almost the entire block was bought by Kleege Enterprises in 2018. The new Costa Azul had just reopened at the Ferry Landing on February 5. “We had an excellent first month and were on our way up and anticipating the summer season volume, when we had to suddenly close and move to take-out on March 16. We are only doing about a tenth of our usual business since COVID-19 hit, but we plan to keep going with our take-out food options. Unfortunately, all our wedding parties and large events that were booked for this summer have had to cancel with the uncertainty,” they say.

A take-out fiesta can be ordered from Costa Azul.

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Although they offer the entire menu at Costa Azul, the most popular carry out items have been carnitas, shrimp ceviche, Caesar salad with homemade dressing, and chicken pozole soup, which is unusual in that it contains no pork like the traditional version.

Long-time employee Genaro is well known at Costa Azul.

“Costa is known by locals for their strong drinks, so you can order ‘Costaritas’ to go individually or by the quart, which makes enough for at least five people. Just add ice when you get home and your drinks are ready,” comments Brant. They also offer half price beer and bottles of wine to accompany the food.

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Chris is busy customizing to go chip bags.

The popular Taco Bar-to-go comes with eight tortillas, carnitas, carne asada or chicken and all the fixings for four or more hungry people for $35.95, but is only $29.95 on Taco Tuesdays. Family dinner specials are popular and feed a hungry crew of four, usually with leftovers for $35.95. You can choose from carnitas, chicken or cheese enchiladas, chile rellenos accompanied by rice, beans, chips and salsa. Additional menu items can also be added like taquitos or guacamole.  All their food is made fresh – for salsa, they roast all the tomatoes, chilis and onions to create the perfect blend of mild and spicy flavors.

The Sarbers other business, Island Pasta at 1202 Orange Avenue, also offers the full menu of Italian food, including their ever-popular Rigatoni Bake and Island Pizza. Family meals include choice of pasta and sauces, with salad and garlic bread. Generous family portions are offered at $35.95.

Sarber opened Island Pasta more than 25 years ago, in part because of his Navy SEAL Dad. “I went with him to BUD/S training and saw that the guys needed to load up on protein and carbs, so Island Pasta was created with them in mind to offer homemade food at reasonable prices.”

“We still try to keep our restaurants affordable for locals,” highlights Brant. Carol says “We have seen generations of families eat at our restaurants. There are customers who met at Island Pasta and later got married. We also hire local kids to work with us that grew up eating here.”

This is an unprecedented time we are living through and at both their restaurants, they are strictly following all the Department of Health regulations and going beyond in keeping a sanitary environment. “We leave the door open with a pickup table between guests and employees. We are cleaning constantly throughout the day. We even sanitize pens used by patrons between each use,” Brant comments.

They are juggling family needs in the midst of this with their daughter Emily home from San Luis Obispo, where she is studying business, and Brant’s mom who recently broke her hip. They are committed to their 25 Costa Azul and 15 Island Pasta employees, but only have a few key long-term employees working at the moment. For example, Genaro and Miguel have been with Costa Azul from the start. They have applied for federal disaster loan monies but as of yet have not received any.

“Many people don’t realize that the walkway along the bay is open, so we encourage you to enjoy an escape down here as you pick up food,” says Brant. “You can call in your order or just walk up and order and we will have it ready for 15-20 minutes, and you can stroll along the pathway and enjoy the San Diego skyline view.”  When asked how they anticipate their food needs, they say they go day to day, but Carol pointed out that they have noticed more customers order if the weather is good or if the daily news is not too depressing.

When they looked into taking food to the Police and Fire Departments, they were told it couldn’t be accepted, but they have been sharing with some seniors in the community and are seeking other opportunities as they arise. In addition to their family specials and kids meals, gift certificates are available for purchase to use now or save for when the coronavirus crisis has passed.

For menu updates and specials, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Costa Azul 619-435-3525
Island Pasta 619-435-4545

 

 

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Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com
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