With the turn of a dial, “Dante” is alight, a ring of flames burning at 600 degrees. The new Neapolitan brick pizza oven at the UC San Diego Faculty Club is the centerpiece of a revamped contemporary lounge designed to host departmental gatherings, conferences, private parties and more. The campus community is invited to join in happy hour from 4-7 p.m. every Wednesday and Thursday this fall quarter.
Located in the southeastern corner of the Faculty Club, the lounge utilizes both indoor and outdoor space. The interior bar and dining area is directly connected to an outdoor patio through expansive sliding doors, creating an open environment that allows guests to seamlessly move from one space to another. Behind the bar a backlit photograph of the campus’ iconic eucalyptus grove serves as a focal point, while tree branches are incorporated into the décor.
“We felt that this was an opportunity to transform the lounge into an active social space with a lively ambiance and comfortable atmosphere,” said Tom Mignano, director of the Faculty Club. “The style of service is new as well. Guests can move around and mingle while tasting small plates and enjoying the indoor bar and outdoor fireplace.”
The menu is inspired by medieval poet Dante Alighieri’s trilogy, Divine Comedy—specifically, Inferno. The giant oven cooks pizzas and flatbreads as well as barbeque chicken, baked macaroni and other dishes. A suite of nine spices are offered to those with daring taste buds, a direct reference to Dante’s nine levels of hell. In addition, a diverse selection of craft beer and wine from local vineyards will be featured, with special emphasis on alumni companies like Ballast Point and Stone Brewing.
Strolling outside to the patio, guests are treated to a view of the Stuart Collection’s “Sun God” and neighboring eucalyptus grove. A pergola provides shade for tables during the summer, while overhanging heaters offer warmth during nighttime occasions. Groups can also congregate on the couch near the fire table, or watch the chef in action at the outdoor kitchen.
Mignano encourages all faculty, staff and graduate students to visit during the fall quarter happy hours to experience the space. In addition, a grand opening event will be held from 4-7 p.m. on Oct. 20 for members and a guest. “We want to appeal to our members, while also attract a younger demographic, by offering a modern design reminiscent of other downtown hotspots.”
More than just a place to dine and chat with colleagues, the Faculty Club serves as a central forum for engaging the campus and local community. Comprised of more than 1,000 members, including faculty, staff, graduate students, alumni and community friends, the club accommodates diverse interests and needs.
To learn more about the Faculty Club, visit their website here.