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Archive for the ‘Italian Food’ Category

The ‘Real’ Fresh Brothers Pizza-Salad-Wings Land In The OC.

August 24th, 2014 No comments

Fresh Brothers Pizza

The real brothers of Fresh Brothers Pizza-Salad-Wings are pictured above at the opening of a new Fresh Brothers in Newport Beach.  It’s their first in Orange County.  I’m not saying they’re fresh, but their Pizza is.  And they really are brothers, but their last name isn’t actually Fresh.

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Their Pizza is good, but I fell for the Fresh Knots aka Garlic Bread tied in a knot and dusted with Parmesan Cheese, served with Pizza Sauce on the side.  I’d make a meal of it.

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Their Pizza liked me too — Thumbs up to much success.

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Samples of most items were offered to media invitees and passers by this day — Thanks Bro’s!

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Fresh Brother’s Wings are baked and never fried — They offer 6 different kinds.

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Meatball Sliders served on Kings Hawaiian Sweet Rolls are available too.

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What do you see below?  Not Chicken Tenders.

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They’re Vegan Tenders that seem like Chicken and they’re pretty good too.

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One of my plates (above) — All was enjoyable.

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Fresh Knots reiterated (above) — Yum.

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They also offer Make-Your-Own-Pizza-Party packages for kids — A fun idea.

Pieology Pizzeria: The Study Of ‘K’ustom Pizza At One Fair Price.

June 21st, 2014 No comments

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At Pieology Pizzeria, I can finally get all the Pizza toppings I want without worrying about cost.  I usually limit Pizza toppings to 3 max, otherwise it gets expensive.  Here it makes sense to have more.  For one price — $7.95 — You can have them all if you want.  And it’s fast too.

Pieology

It’s easy — Just go through the assembly line and tell them what you want.

Custom Pizza

What kind of Sauce?  What kind of Cheese?  1/2 and 1/2?  Simple?  Complex?

Kustom - Custom Pizza

It’s all up to you.  Want more Pepperoni than generally allotted?  You can have it – I like that!

Cheese Options

To simplify, you can also choose one of Pieology’s 7 Specialty Pizzas from $6.45 – $7.95.

Pieology Pizza Oven

It’s a nice sized Pizza with a perfectly crisp, thin crust, for one or two people.

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A friend of mine works at a movie theater near a Pieology Pizzeria and says many sneak Pieology Pizzas into the theater.  I’m not sure how, but it’s done.  And he says… it’s the most coveted leftover by those cleaning theaters – Some like it so much, they’ll eat a stranger’s last slices if they’re left in the theater.  Yikes!  I surely wouldn’t do that (hahaha), but it goes to show how good it must be, or theater employees need to eat before going to work.

What The Happiest Place On Earth Is Going On?

May 27th, 2014 No comments

Downtown Disney Pizza

Have you tried Naples Ristorante E Pizzeria in the Downtown Disney District?

Naples Pizza

If not, you may want to skip it — Not because it’s bad, but because it’s ridiculously priced.

Naples Patio - Pizza

Disney related prices are high indeed and going up, as recently reported.

Downtown Disney - Olive Oil

After watching a Food Network Special on Pizzas, I had been craving a great one — Naples Ristorante E Pizzeria was the first Pizzeria we stumbled on after the show.  It didn’t satisfy, mostly because I have an aversion to being gouged.  Our “Individual” Pizza (pictured) was $19 and the next size up is $32.  We got the Finocchiona Pizza, which is made with Salami, sautéed Onions, Tomato and Mozzarella.  Again, it wasn’t bad, but I know there’s better.

Naples Pizza - Downtown Disney

We appreciate taste and value in a Pizza — It makes us happier on earth.

Two Saucy Broads In Fullerton: A Yelp (Meatball) Sandwich Pick.

November 18th, 2013 1 comment

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Though you can’t see the Meatballs in this photo (above), it’s a Meatball Sandwich from Two Saucy Broads in Fullerton.  They’re reported to make some of the best Meatballs around, says Yelp.  Since I’m in the process of moving to Fullerton and was nearby, I gave them/it a try.

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The Sandwich is called Mom’s Meatball Parmesan – It’s different than the average Meatball Sandwich in that it’s baked in Pizza Dough, similar to a Calzone, but they don’t call it that.

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Also pictured are two Pepperoni Pinwheels with a side of Marinara Sauce.

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Both were very good and I love the name… Two Saucy Broads (one is pictured below).  Though the original focus was on the Meatball, it’s the Sauce and Dough that I liked best.

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Once settled in, I’ll go there again, once they’re settled in their new, larger location too — They plan to move from Commonwealth to Hyland in Fullerton by the end of the year.  I’ll be there.

Carrabba’s Beef Brasato Recipe: Taste It Without Being There.

March 10th, 2013 No comments

Brasato (Prep)

Linked here is a video of a Carrabba’s Chef making their Beef Brasato, which is featured in one of Carrabba’s Italian Grill’s commercials.  Though I’ve never been there, the dish Beef Brasato looks and sounds pretty good – It’s basically slow braised Short Ribs, Italian style.

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Carrabba’s Beef Brasato RECIPE has the makings for a great dish… Wine, Beef, Fresh Herbs, Garlic, Onion, etc.  All ingredients are pictured but not listed – If visually indecipherable (Olive Oil, Dried Sweet Marjoram, Crushed Tomatoes, Lemon Zest), the complete list is here.

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Carrabba’s Beef Brasato recipe is (somewhat) summarized here in a few photos.

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Cut, dice, chop, crush and press the Garlic, Herbs and Vegetables.

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Flour, Salt, Pepper and sear the Beef Short Ribs.

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Sauté the Mirepoix.

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Add Garlic, Red Wine, and return the seared Beef and add the remaining ingredients.

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Apologies for the poorly seared Beef, pan wasn’t hot enough (a common story on The Bad).

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Braise all covered together in the oven at 300° – 325° for 4 hours, until Beef will fall apart.

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Serve over Rice or Risotto — It was flavorful, though I added too much Crushed Tomato.

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I’d make it again or try it at the restaurant someday — The pics don’t validate it well.

Happy Valentine’s Day: Pre & Post Celebrate Days Before And After.

February 14th, 2013 No comments

Egg and Toast Heart for Breakfast -- Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day — To avoid the crowd, we celebrated a couple days before with dinner at Soprano’s (soon to be reported on) and further plan to observe the holiday with cards and surprises the day after.  Heart shaped Toast today with much to look forward to tomorrow.

Pizzeria Ortica Fall/Winter Menu Tasting: Happy To Taste This Place.

September 10th, 2012 No comments

I’ve come to realize that any tasting at Pizzeria Ortica is going to be scrumptious.

We loved the opportunity to try several dishes on Pizzeria Ortica’s Fall/Winter Menu.

Many are pictured here and fully described below – Eat dish packed a lot of flavor.

I was reminded how good this restaurant is — Don’t let it go undiscovered.

Can you match the photos to the dish descriptions?  Hope so, as they’re not retyped.

The “Chick” (directly above) — Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano and Extra Virgin Olive Oil is simple and plain looking, but so good.  It’s named for a customer with standing reservations who inspired and loves it.  I surprisingly loved it too.  Thanks Chick.

And other favorites included the Pork Belly Terrine, Pancetta e Zucca and Ricotta Gnocchi.

The photos don’t do the food justice – We’re most impressed after each visit.

They also offer space for group mixers up to 60 people and a private dining room for 35.

We look forward to going back soon for more of the same — All was that delicious.

Thank you Pizzeria Ortica!  Enlarge MENU for a better view.

Jazzed About Spaghettini’s Brunch: It’s Not Cheap, But It’s Worth It.

August 3rd, 2012 1 comment

Brunch at Spaghettini Fine Dining & Entertainment aka Italian Grill and Jazz Club.

I’ve liked Spaghettini for years, but hadn’t experienced their Brunch.

Thanks to a friend who won Brunch for Two at Spaghettini’s, I got to partake.

Spaghettini’s Brunch is $49.95 per person for (1) off the menu Entrée and Buffet.

And Bottomless Champagne — Something I always appreciate in a Brunch.

Pictured are just a few of the Entrée Choices (above) and Buffet offerings (below).

It’s nice they don’t overwhelm with too many options, instead a well-prepared, fine amount.

The quality, taste and selection of all made me happy.

Unlimited Champagne with hours to enjoy the Buffet and Entrée makes for a great Sunday.

I particularly liked the Artichoke Dip (below) — It’s much tastier than it looks here.

On to Dessert – Again, not all offerings are shown here.  There’s a lot more.

One bummer about Spaghettini’s Brunch is… No food will be packaged to-go.

I guess Spag’s doesn’t want you to mow down the Buffet to take your Entrée home for later.

That’s what I’d do (written above), but instead I have to think to myself… I don’t want to load up on the Buffet so to save room for my Entrée, since I can’t take any of it home.  Darn.

See MENU at top to learn more about the Sea Bass, Salmon and Sirloin Steak revealed herein.

The Wave 94.7 broadcasts live from Spaghettini during Sunday Brunch and some danced to the smooth jazz playing in the lounge.  In a Wave giveaway, my friend won the basket above.

Pizzeria Ortica Family Style Communal Dinner With Old Friends And New.

June 27th, 2012 No comments

It was a pleasure to see you here at this communal table at Pizzeria Ortica.

Pizzeria Ortica is set to launch a new round of three-course Italian family style dinners.

The restaurant occupies the old Turner New Zealand spot and I love its East Coast feel.

Our food appreciative group felt like family after sharing Verdure and Panzanella.

Also known as Grilled Zucchini, Cippolini Agro Dolce, Roasted Green Beans and Marinated Eggplant, and Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Cucumber, Green Onions and Basil with Rustic Bread.

Mint Salsa Verde, Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Peas and Cippolini — Yum.

Roasted Nectarines with Mascarpone Cheese and more I’m not sure about, but it was good.

We’re always looking for a tasty outdoor patio too – Pizzeria Ortica goes on that list.

Blurry I know, but I like its sentiment — Sharing a Brown Butter and Hazelnut Torte.  Grazie.

Update:  Upcoming dinner dates for the Italian family style dinners are July 31st, August 28th, September 25th, October 30th and November 27th.

Panini Cafe: The Chicken Shish Kabob Is (A Must) Indeed!

June 2nd, 2012 No comments

The Chicken Shish Kabob Mediterranean Entree is A MUST, as noted on Panini Cafe’s Menu and verbalized by friends.  Four of us recently had lunch on their patio in Irvine to celebrate a couple birthdays.  My original sights were set on Lamb, Mousaka or a Panini, but had to try the Chicken Shish Kabob due to the hoopla.  We all ordered the same plate, not a food bloggers dream, but WOW is the word — It’s beautiful, extremely flavorful, tender and juicy baby.

It’s the Best Chicken Kabob we’ve ever had — My friends go to Panini Cafe for it as often as possible.  Their office is within walking distance and now I wish mine was too.  It’s superb.

The pictured dessert isn’t served at Panini Cafe.  It was made by a dear friend and amazing baker for our birthdays – A tasty lunch indeed.  Let’s meet back here soon for another Kabob.

The Old Vine Café At The Camp: We Are Still Talking About It.

May 24th, 2012 No comments

WOW!  We had one of the best meals ever at the Old Vine Café at The Camp.

It’s a relatively small restaurant with airy, open indoor/outdoor seating.

We thoroughly enjoyed our patio seat and hope for the same one next time.

We like the Tasting Menus so much, we want to try them ALL.

There are 9 Tasting Menus to choose from, which are basically four course meals, with Wine paired with each course – The food portions and Wine pours are extremely generous too.

The Old Vine Café is stylish and its virtuoso menu is presented on painted canvas.

It was hard to decide, but we chose The Premium Tasting Menu and Savory Tasting Menu.  

TOAST between each course and if you fancy a Wine, take a bottle home.  We fell for the 2007 Von Hovel Riesling Spatlese, Mosel Saar Ruver Germany.  It was crisp and not too sweet.

The pictured are generally described — See Dinner Menu for complete (better) descriptions.

At top from first course down, we savored Large Shrimp with a Lemon Grass Curry Sauce.

And Seasonal Greens with Crispy Prosciutto, Fried Onions and Maytag Blue Cheese, a giant Hand Made Raviolo with Smoked Duck, Goat Cheese and Porcini Mushrooms in Brown Butter with Sage, and Prosciutto Wrapped Baby Artichokes with a Citrus Infused Olive Oil.

Char Grilled Lamb Chops with a Blueberry Malbec Demi Glace — The Sauce was magical.

Beef Tenderloin Stroganoff with Shitake Mushrooms served over Hand Made Fettuccini.

Artisan Cheese with Marcona Almonds and Fresh Fruit.

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake — Cheers to that with Port.

All is set near tall pine trees, a CAMP fire, hammock and the largest wind chimes I’ve seen.

Mark McDonald is the Old Vine Café’s Chef and owner, and a true expert on Local Cuisine, where Orange County’s Best Restaurants are highlighted .  I’m also a listed expert and humbled to be named amongst others far more knowledge, especially after this meal.

It’s worth the sometimes parking hassles of The Camp – Once you’re there, it’s a delicious escape.  I love it, I love it, I love it, like a Joyologist, and should have my leg kicked up high.

Already ready for the next OVC Tasting Menu.

No Sour Grapes Over Warm Grapes: Just A Copycat Fix-er Up-er.

April 16th, 2012 No comments

We like Plums Café, but weren’t thrilled with their Oregonzola and Roasted Muscat Grapes (below).  We like the concept of it, but the warm Grapes just didn’t taste right to us and the Oregonzola (Gorgonzola from Oregon, where the café owners are from) was a bit too hard.  Since we left cheerless about it, I made a copycat to get its potential out of our system.

For our copycat (top), I used Cal-Gorgonzola, if you will, with chilled Grapes and Cashews instead of Hazelnuts.  Both are drizzled with Wild Flower Honey.  Plum’s Bread was better than ours, but we preferred this copycat/version and have much respect for its ($11) source.

Anna And Frankie’s Meatballs On A Monday: Baked Not Fried.

November 14th, 2011 No comments

The Best Meatballs in the World are Anna and Frankie’s Meatballs at Rao’s – I have Rao’s Cookbook and make ‘em all the time.  No other Italian Meatball recipe will be necessary.  Rao’s all the way!  Also, instead of frying Meatballs, I always bake them, which is easier and they still turn out fantastic.  Pictured is Moroccan Kefta prepared for a food competition last year.

Maggiano’s Little Italy: Marco’s Meal Deal Is The Tit-Tallys.

October 26th, 2011 No comments

Have you heard about Marco’s Meal For Two at Maggiano’s Little Italy?

It’s more like a meal for four than two, and it’s only $39.95 any day at Maggiano’s.

You choose any Appetizer, Two Classic Pastas and a Dessert (plus more later).

We opted for the Stuffed Mushrooms, Mom’s Lasagna Marinara, Baked Rigatoni Pomodoro and Tiramisu — All was generous in size and amazing to eat.  We’d go back again for the same.

And as if that’s not enough, you get to take home two additional Classic Pastas.

Further details are shown above — See MENU for Classic Pasta options.

Cheers to a wonderful Italian meal in Little Italy for dinner.

Two Take Home Classic Pastas, plus leftovers to enjoy a couple times after – A fine value.

The above was pegged an Oil & Vinegar Pac Man and post title includes a fictitious word inspired by another, who expressed Maggiano’s is ‘tops’ in three other letters after the t.

So many love Maggiano’s and I’m always reminded why — Fly me to the spoon and dish up.

Maggiano’s South Coast Plaza yesterday and take away Eggplant Parmesan today.

Marco’s Meal For Two At Maggiano’s: Thanks To A Chicago Maitre D.

October 22nd, 2011 No comments

Can’t wait to get my hands on this spectacular deal at Maggiano’s — Enlarge for a better view.

Mushroom Ravioli al Forno above and a Gnocchi Special below at Maggiano’s Little Italy.

Marco’s Meal for Two is available every day – The pictured are from earlier days.

Homemade Pasta: Check It Off Your List Of Things To Make.

March 8th, 2011 No comments

I’ve had this Pasta Maker for way too many years and it’s not even mine.  Isn’t that terrible?!  And to make it worse, this is my first time using it.  I’ve periodically reminded my friend that I still have it and did intend to use it someday.  Since she hasn’t been ready to use it, my confiscation was overlooked.  Thanks Nora — I’m finally making Pasta.  I’ll try to save you some Fettuccine, Linguine or Spaghetti.  This Marcato Atlas Pasta Maker works really well.

Two cups of Flour, two large Eggs and a little water was used to make all that’s pictured.

Make a well of Flour.

Add the Eggs to the center.

Stir the Eggs before or after adding to the Flour well.

Slowly start to bring the Flour into the Eggs.

Add a little water, enough necessary to arrive at a Dough consistency.

Ta – Dough… My very first Pasta Sheet.

How exciting — It’s easy when you work with a little Pasta Dough at a time.

Making the Pasta Sheet longer and thinner – A little tricky, but fun.

I was very impressed with the quality of this Pasta Maker — It was still shiny too.

I believe Fettuccine is being made, but unsure of Pasta’s subtle name/size variations.

Turning Pasta Sheets into Noodles.

Separating the Noodles.

It’s Fettuccine graffiti in the hood.

And Spaghetti graffiti in the house.

Straightening out our act. :)

‘Make Homemade Pasta’ can finally be checked off the list.  Next it’ll be Tortillas.

Boiling Water was awaiting the Spaghetti.

And a pre-made Marinara Sauce was heated and ready.

I boiled the Noodles a couple minutes, drained ‘em and added Sauce and shaved Parmesan.

All went so well!  I pre-laid parchment everywhere before starting, which helped.

Noodles ready for future Sauce action — An Ala Limone from Cook’s Illustrated stands by.

Here’s the recipe used to make the above and here’s how to freeze the leftovers.

Rao’s On Top Chef Tonight: We Love Their Meatballs – Say Hi To Bubbles.

February 2nd, 2011 No comments

Rao’s was on Top Chef tonight — As previously reported, we LOVE their Meatballs and will (most likely) never make another.  The above photo is hanging on the wall at Rao’s Caesars Palace.  When we visited, we met Bubbles who you might see there.  If so, please say hello.

Wish I was at this table – Learn more about Rao’s here.

Tapenade: An Impressive Appetizer Isn’t That Complicated At All.

January 10th, 2011 No comments

A good friend brought Tapenade to a party I had last month and left the leftovers, which I LOVED having the next day.  It tasted and looked like it was from a restaurant.  Her husband made it and I finally got the recipe (kinda).  No measurements, but I understand.  Prepare it to taste.  He simply wrote — Two kinds of Olives, Garlic (not powdered), Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper and Italian Seasonings.  For the Italian Seasonings, I used Oregano and Basil.

I think mine (pictured) tasted like his, but I’ll have to find out if he adds more “Italian Seasonings” than Basil and Oregano.  At first the above Tapenade had too many Green Olives in it and then I overcompensated a bit with the Black Olives.  Overall, I learned that good Tapenade can be made in an instance with items always on hand.

Just In Time For Top Chef All-Stars: Fantastic Food, Fun & Fabio.

November 29th, 2010 2 comments

Top Chef All-Stars starts this Wednesday, December 1st on BRAVO — Bravo to that!  Here’s the contestant line-up, which includes Fabio Viviani from Season 5.  He has a restaurant in Moorpark, California — Café Firenze, where Bonnie, our traveling Guest Blogger recently dined.  She raved about her experience, thus we’re certainly rooting for him.  Other Top Chef All-Star picks will be selected after first airing.  Until then, Bonnie reports about her meal by Fabio.  I think she’s in love.  I sure wish she’d get a camera, as her Fabio photo and most didn’t turn out.  Nonetheless, I appreciate the report and wish I’d been there.  Go Fabio!

Fantastic Food, Fun & Fabio. Fabulous!  That’s how I would sum up our dinner Saturday night at Café Firenze in Moorpark, California.

BRAVO TV’s Top Chef Runner-Up and upcoming Top Chef “All Star” contender Fabio Viviani was on hand to greet us and, after spending several hours at his restaurant, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. While he is just as charming off the screen as he is on it, it is his food that truly stands out as exceptional.

In fact, the five course tasting menu that Fabio designed especially for us was magnificent, but since we let him use his own discretion rather than ordering from the menu, I can’t remember every detail.  There were three appetizers, including a silky smooth Imported Burrata Mozzarella, a pasta with homemade Duck sausage and a pancetta wrapped Jumbo Shrimp filled with gorgonzola cheese.  I think the latter was the best shrimp I have ever eaten.

The entrée consisted of grilled Colorado Lamb with braised pistachios – a truly unique combination of flavors – and the desert was something so creamy and luscious that all I can remember is how delicious it tasted, rather than its name.

And dinner was a lot of fun too, thanks to bartender Damiano Carrara. What’s with all the charming Italian men at Café Firenze?  I don’t know, but Damiano’s accent and prowess with a bottle — ala Tom Cruise in “Cocktail” – was quite the show.  His signature cocktails, one made with 2 Nite Vodka from Italy and the other with pomegranate were the perfect accompaniments to our tasting menu.

At this point I probably have convinced you about the food, but I have to inspire you with the interior design as well.  Naturally, everything has been imported from Italy (Firenze is the town where Fabio was born) and no detail was spared.  So don’t forget to check out the coffered ceilings and stunning chandeliers.

Moorpark isn’t exactly known as a dining mecca, so Fabio’s restaurant stands out as an exceptional experience.  I can’t wait to go back!  Good luck on Wednesday night, Fabio, I will be rooting for you.

(Note that what we had is very similar to what is called “The Chef’s Table” where you get five courses paired with either wine or martinis to compliment each dish for $75 each or five courses without alcohol for $50 each.  We loved this innovative concept.) 

by Bonnie Flamm, Guest Blogger, Interior Designer, Writer

OC Restaurant Week Is Happening Now: Prego’s Kick Off Party & Dinner.

September 28th, 2010 2 comments

Be sure to make dinner and/or lunch reservations this week in Orange County.  Restaurant Week is happening now through Saturday.  You can learn more about it here.  In celebration, we attended its Kick Off Party at Prego Ristorante in Irvine.

We enjoyed seemingly endless appetizer platters, Coppola Wine, Agave Tequila and Sobieski Wodka (Polish Vodka).  I had not been to Prego in years.  The service and food was as good as I remember.  We didn’t fall in love with the Kick Off Party appetizers, but our subsequent Three Course Meal for $30 was fantastic.

All were on stand by ready to serve food and drinks — Love that!

I enjoyed the Coppola Wine, while my guest had the Wodka.

As soon as one appetizer platter ran out, Prego staff brought out another.

Jill-FM Radio (92.7) DJ was playing great tunes for the crowd. 

Important people were being interviewed — I don’t know who.  It was a Sunday and I don’t get paid to know, hahaha.  The dining room is beautiful at Prego and the bar is larger than it used to be.  The dessert cart is also pictured below.

After the party, we took pleasure in Prego’s Three Course Meal, which includes a Glass of Wine.  It’s an amazing deal for $30.  And I was thrilled to see Carpaccio Cipriani as an option for the First Course.  I was sold on that alone. 

For the Second Course I had Risotto Mare with Arborio Rice, Shrimp, Scallops, Manila Clams and Black Mussels, and my friend had Costata Di Bue, a Mesquite Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Potatoes and Sauteed Vegetables.  Both meals were excellent, especially the Rib Eye and the Sauce that tops it.  Unfortunately the photo didn’t do it justice, thus it’s not posted.

And dessert includes a choice between Tiramisu and Torta Di Limone.  We got one of each.

We love Orange County Restaurant Week FOOD and prices — As previously mentioned, it’s the best time to dine out in the OC.  Eat now before it ends.

Join OC Foodies to stay on top of the latest Orange County food and restaurant news.

Rao’s At Caesars Palace, The Best Joint Next To Harlem.

July 2nd, 2010 4 comments

We finally got into Rao’s!  Obviously not Rao’s original Harlem location, since the wait is two years to never to get in, and California is a bit too far for a New York dinner reservation.  However, during our recent trip to Las Vegas we had lunch at Rao’s Caesars Palace.  We already booked dinner reservations elsewhere, but knew we had to make time and room for Rao’s Meatballs too.

We have Rao’s Cookbook and consider their Meatballs to be one of our favorite recipes.  We’ve made them on a few occasions, thus had to try the actual Meatballs at the restaurant.  They were equally amazing as expected and we are so happy to have the recipe.

The pictured dining room is a replica of Rao’s original location with handfuls of tables.  Fortunately Rao’s Caesars Palace built two identical dining rooms to offer more people the Rao’s experience, since most of us will never know the magic of Rao’s Harlem.

Rao’s outdoor patio is just steps away from Caesars Palace’s happening swimming pools, where we polished off our stiff Cadillac Margaritas.  We also had the pleasure of meeting Bubbles (pictured below), a special Host at Rao’s.  We first saw him sitting at the end of the bar and knew he was a kool kat.  For some reason we b-lined to him wanting to know his story, and was somehow transported to New York during our interesting conversation.  We initially didn’t know he was/is with Rao’s and now we’re excited to send our signed, framed photo (as instructed) to be hung amongst all the remarkable, nostalgic photos decorating their walls.  We’re honored and delighted to be a part of it.  Thanks Rao’s and Bubbles. :)

* The unrelated frog painting was approved as an entry into the OC Fair’s Fine Arts Category and was painted by my talented Niece Bailee of Kids in the Kitchen.  The frog’s eyes match the colors in the Rao’s photograph and both were on the table – Plus it looks cool and we always want to promote the fabulous Fair, as seen by Chef Lexi’s entry here.

Maggianos Little Italy: They Consistently Serve Large Portions Of Goodness.

June 7th, 2010 No comments

Upon each visit to Maggianos Little Italy, we’re amazed that they’re always so busy.  They still pack ‘em in and we know why — Large portions, excellent Italian food, nice atmosphere, Sinatra music and great service.  This time we tried a couple new dishes, starting with the Pepperoni and Arugula Flatbread Pizza (above).  It’s a seemingly simple appetizer, but very tasty.  We’ll definitely get this appetizer again.

We also enjoyed the Veal and Mushroom Ravioli Al Forno, a Gnocchi and Shrimp Special, Sauteed Spinach and Strawberry Shortcake.  As usual, all dishes were fantastic.  We’ve never been disappointed after dining at Maggianos.  Click here to view other meals we’ve enjoyed in the past.

As previously noted, it’s highly recommended that you make reservations, if you don’t want to wait too long.  Even with reservations, we waited 20 minutes, which is fine with a Glass of Wine in hand.  Without reservations, the wait could be a couple hours on some nights.

So This Is The Pizza New Yorkers Love So Much?

May 20th, 2010 No comments

In AAA‘s Westways Magazine, Al’s New York Cafe in Costa Mesa was recently named one of the “Best Cheap Eats”  in Southern California, and most on Yelp rave about it too.  We tried their Pepperoni Pizza and unfortunately thought it was a bit too greasy for us.*  We might be a little too CPK.  We’ll try a couple of Al’s other specialties next visit.

* We’re not grease snobs – Pizza photo was taken after blotting.