Archive for the ‘Italian Food’ Category

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.

Maggiano’s Little Italy — Make Reservations If You Don’t Want To Wait.

May 4th, 2010 No comments

One of our longstanding favorite restaurants in Costa Mesa is Maggiano’s Little Italy.  It’s even better now that it has taken over the former Corner Bakery portion of the restaurant and built a much needed Bar and wait area.  It was way too small before and Maggiano’s gets busy.  Without reservations last Friday, we almost waited an hour and a half.  You can make reservations on their website or directly through Open Table — It’s highly recommended.

During this visit, dare I say that I had the best tasting appetizer in my life?!  It’s quite a statement, but Maggiano’s Grilled Steak Bruschetta is amazing.  It’s made with a Gorgonzola Fondue that’s topped with slices of Steak, Red Onions, Spiced Walnuts and Fresh Spinach.  The combination is superb and the Steak is tender.  This appetizer in on their “Eat A Dish for Make-A-Wish” special menu, whereas when you order from it Maggiano’s makes a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in your honor.  It’s truly a win-win situation.

We also enjoyed the Chicken & Spinach Manicotti (above) and the Italian Boneless Short Ribs (below) that’s served with Roasted Butternut Squash, Chard, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Garlic Herb Cheese & Couscous.  Both were terrific at the restaurant and for leftovers.  The portion sizes are always generous, which is another thing we love about Maggiano’s.

And had to have the Dessert Sampler too — All that you see is baked in house.  What a treat!

Note: Click HERE to view more dishes enjoyed at Maggiano’s Little Italy.

Panettone French Toast — And The Winner Of The Giant Panettone Is…

December 14th, 2009 2 comments

Panettone FT 012

I made French Toast with the last slice of Panettone.  It’s not the best photo above, but the Panettone French Toast Recipe is a good one.  It’s a taste combination of Bread Pudding and French Toast, if that makes sense.  I often like adding citrus zest to recipes, thus appreciate the Orange Zest in this French Toast.  And now I’m truly a Panettone lover — I want more.  After all these years, I didn’t know this traditional Italian Sweet Bread was so delicious.

Panettone FT 002Panettone FT 009Panettone FT 004Panettone FT 010

And the winner of the Giant Panettone, plus Bauducco’s amazing Panettone with Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Chips is… Kat Foster.  Congratulations Kat!  We’ll be contacting you shortly to learn where to send your prize.  Thanks to all who entered.  We wish we could have given another Panettone to Vic, Alexis, Kathy and Jade for their diligent entries and touching stories.  We sincerely appreciate all. 

NOTE:  Nibbles of Tidbits always draws its contest winners fair and square, which is out of a hat, box or jar of folded names of all who entered.

Please Pick Me Bertolli — Doesn’t this look good!?

October 4th, 2009 No comments

Misc - 100409 024

To become a “Bertolli Influencer” at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, it was required that applicants submit a MENU using Bertolli products — One Appetizer and One Entree.  Bertolli and Foodbuzz have teamed to offer a brand scholarship program to provide (10) Featured Publishers with free airfare and transportation to/from the festival, and accommodations for (2) nights in the heart of San Francisco.  Please pick me. 🙂

Misc - 100409 009Misc - 100409 012Misc - 100409 018

Pictured HERE is the 2nd Course of my Bertolli Tasting Menu.  As an entry, I proposed the following:

1st Course (Appetizer): Melt in your Mouth Meatballs with Bertolli’s Fire Roasted Tomato and Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce w/ a Garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Crostini.

2nd Course (Entree): Roasted Asparagus and Red Peppers tossed with Penne Pasta and Bertolli’s Garlic Alfredo Sauce with Aged Parmesan Cheese and Pine Nuts.

Misc - 100409 023Misc - 100409 026Misc - 100409 034

Although I propose the use of Bertolli’s “Garlic” Alfredo Sauce, the original was substituted here, since the other wasn’t available at the store I shopped. Instead I roasted a bulb of Garlic in the oven and mixed in a few cloves.  All was a flavorful combination.  The (10) winners should be announced tomorrow, then Foodbuzz readers will vote for the top (3) menus to possibly be prepared at the festival — My fingers are crossed.

UPDATE 10/22/09:  Unfortunately I didn’t win this one, but you can review the winning menus here.  Thanks for the opportunity Foodbuzz and Bertolli.

The Italian Torpedo Sandwich From Quiznos.

June 26th, 2009 4 comments


This is a good Sandwich and the Bread is excellent for it.  We stopped in for a quick Italian Torpedo from Quiznos.  It’s only $4 — Love that.  And since I walk by a Quiznos a few times a week, I was bound to try one at some point.  It’s thinner than I thought it would be, which I liked.  And it’s made on very soft Ciabatta Bread, which makes a Toasty Torpedo tasty.  We highly recommend it.

Free To Make Biscotti On A Memorial Day Monday.

May 25th, 2009 1 comment


The sacrifices of our American Soldiers past and present is tremendous, and it’s the reason I’m free here today to make homemade Biscotti.  Let’s honor, respect and support all who fought and fight for continued freedom and liberation.



This is the first time I’ve made Biscotti — Since it’s pretty dry, I’m generally not a fan.  I added Powdered Sugar and drizzled Chocolate for sweetness and excitement.  Overall it was fun learning how it’s made, but I like Cupcakes, Pies, Cookies and other goodies a lot more.

(The recipe calls for “2 Egg Equivalents” but I used 3 medium Eggs.  I also added chopped Almonds and Orange Extract).

What is Biscotti?:

What is Memorial Day?:

Rao’s Meatball Sandwich Slider, YUM-Bondanza.

April 19th, 2009 1 comment


meatball-slider-0081One of the best things I’ve done is freeze some of the Rao’s Meatballs I made.  With the final small frozen batch I prepared these yummy Meatball Sliders.  I just re-heated the Meatballs in Marinara Sauce and voila — I added all to Toasted Buns with a slice of Mozzarella Cheese.  I so appreciated the convenience, taste and quality of this quick meal.  Rao’s Meatballs are the best.  Make a batch and be sure to freeze a few — If you love these Meatballs, you’ll be glad you did.  They are an abundance of yummy-ness.  Abbondanza.

Rao’s Meatball Recipe:

Roman Cucina In & Around Orange County.

April 3rd, 2009 No comments


Here we visited the Roman Cucina Restaurant in Costa Mesa.  They are also in Sunset Beach, Laguna Hills and Fullerton.  The service is good and I like the decor, especially the chandeliers at Costa Mesa’s Roman Cucina off Newport Blvd.  This night we had the Shrimp Scampi with Penne (above), and the Pasta Rosa with Chicken Milanese (below), which needs an extra side of Sauce for the Chicken — Once received we were happier.


And we had the “Ala Checca” with Spaghetti, Olive Oil, Garlic, Roma Tomatoes and Basil.  All dishes were served with really good Bread and a Salad — They’ve got a tasty House Italian Dressing too.  This location has indoor and outdoor seating and a fabulous, hip and comfortable atmosphere.


More INFO & Menu:

Rao’s Meatballs On Wednesday Nights In Harlem.

March 11th, 2009 2 comments


It takes months to get a reservation at Rao’s in Upper Manhattan New York.  The hundred year old restaurant hardly has more than ten tables in a corner of East Harlem.  I’ve read “the dishes are magical” and since I’m in California, I bought Rao’s Cookbook.   It’s my way in.  I’d love to eat in the restaurant someday, but until then I THANK Anna and Frankie for the BEST Meatball Recipe ever.  I need no other.


I make the exact recipe and my own Breadcrumbs, but I bake the Meatballs instead of fry them.  It’s a lot easier and turns out great.  I bake them in a preheated 400° oven for about 25-30 minutes, and then add ’em to simmering Marinara Sauce as noted in No. 4 of Rao’s Recipe below.


I’ve included a link to their Cookbook and posted “Anna and Frankie’s Meatballs” Recipe HERE — They’re only served on Wednesdays at the restaurant.  They really are tasty and I can now eat them all week long in California.  I’ll also freeze the Meatballs individually and reheat a few in Sauce whenever they sound good.  It’s an easy way to be reminded of their authentic Italian flavor and be transported to happiness.


Rao’s Cookbook Link:

Easy Read Recipe Link:

Il Farro Caffe Trattoria Near The Newport Pier.

March 4th, 2009 1 comment


We went to Il Farro Caffe Trattoria for their prix-fixe meal during Orange County Restaurant Week.  It’s a small Italian restaurant within walking distance from the Newport Beach Pier.  We tried the Carpaccio di Bue al Sedano as an appetizer (above) and the Pollo all Pizzaiola as an entree (below).


Our other appetizer was the Ravioli di Funghi al Gorgonzola, and the entree was the Braciole al Forno, translated means Flank Steak filled and rolled with Rosemary, Sage and Parmesan in a Sherry Sauce.


It was a beautiful evening, the sun was going down and the food was good.  HOWEVER, there was something that bothered my friend and me (and I hope it’s isolated) — To preface the story, we had 5:30 p.m. reservations on a Friday night and arrived on time.


We were then seated in a small area in the front of the restaurant near the deli counter, which would have been fine if it was packed.  The restaurant is divided into two dining areas.  We were being packed up front, while no one was sitting in the larger back dining room. 

I asked if we could sit in the main dining room, but was told by the server that they’re “saving that area because [they] expect to be busy tonight.”  SAY WHAT?  It wasn’t until I asked if it was warmer in the back that they moved us — The entry door was propped open near the front dining area.  It was cold.

Then it was kinda funny because we were moved to the worst seat in the larger dining room, against the half wall of the clanging bus station.  Again, this would be okay, if they were packed.  Instead, we were the ONLY ones in there shortly before our move, which makes it almost comical.

And it wasn’t that they had a lack of servers, since several (5-7) walked by without offering Water or perhaps a glass of Wine.  To us, it seemed like they were saving the comfortable dining area and tables for the more important people, and then they were just oblivious.  It got better, but I guess we didn’t measure up that evening. 🙂

Related Links:

Restaurantica’s Blog Post About Nick’s Pizza.

November 5th, 2008 No comments

Nick’s Pizza Ristorante Italiano is on Restaurantica –

Nick’s Tortellini and Chicken with Artichoke Hearts, Prosciutto and Green Peas in a Light Cream Sauce.

Related Links:

Nick’s Pizza Is A Lot More Than Pizza.

October 25th, 2008 No comments

Here’s Deep Fried Crab Ravioli with Spicy Marinara Sauce, an uncommon Appetizer at any restaurant.  Nick’s Pizza in Costa Mesa is family owned and has been open since 1968.  And the name ‘Nick’s Pizza’ doesn’t do it justice, since it offers so much more. 

I hear its Pizza is great, but haven’t gotten around to trying it yet, because the Pasta is excellent.  Below is the Chicken Portobello, a grilled boneless Chicken Breast and Portobello Mushroom, with Artichoke Hearts and White Wine, served with Pappardelle in Gorgonzola Sauce.

I’ll be posting more about Nick’s Pizza on Restrauntica, so please check there for more food pictures and information, and then check back here for more to come.

Related Links:

Maggianos Little Italy Is Bigger And Better Now.

October 23rd, 2008 2 comments

Maggianos in Costa Mesa just recently expanded their bar area.  It’s a much needed expansion, since the bar and waiting area was way too small for the volume.  They took over the Corner Bakery and it’s now all Maggianos.  I thought I was going to be walking in through the Corner Bakery as usual and was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s more of Maggianos.  There’s now plenty of room to spread out and meet friends for a drink in the bar.

This night we had Mom’s Lasagna and Veal and Mushroom Ravioli al Forno.  All was fabulous as usual.  Abbondanza!

Related Link:

Ratatouille, Not The Movie & Maybe Not The Dish — It’s an Eggplant Experiment.

October 21st, 2008 No comments

This was more of an Eggplant experiment turned into a what’s on hand Ratatouille.  Many Eggplant recipes require that you Salt and drain the Eggplant for an hour before cooking.  Salt is supposed to pull out the bitter flavors sometimes found in Eggplants — But I don’t want to do that.  Call me impatient, plus the process makes the Eggplant seem unappealing to me afterwards, so I never do it.

Here I conducted an experiment.  I cubed an Eggplant and sautéed half in a little Olive Oil and Salt over the stove, and baked the other half with some Olive Oil and Salt in the oven.  Since Eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge, I add more as needed while trying not to add too much.

Overall, I thought the texture of the baked Eggplant was more desirable than the sautéed Eggplant.  The baked Eggplant is pictured above being added to the Sauce.  I thought the stove cooked Eggplant was a little tough and less flavorful.  None were bitter.  I enjoyed eating the baked Eggplant straight from the oven, but the other wasn’t as enjoyable.

I added both Eggplant batches to sautéed Sweet Onion, lots of minced Garlic, chopped Tomatoes and served all over Angel Hair Pasta with a little Shaved Parmesan.  I would have been satisfied if I had just baked the Eggplant, ate it from the oven and skipped everything else.

Related Links:

Mazzottis Is Friendly & Pre-Established.

September 23rd, 2008 4 comments

Mazzottis Italian Deli & Catering settled right into the former Dolcissimo Cupcake’s location.  It looks nice inside.  They utilized the space well by raising the counters and adding bar stools.  They even added three umbrellaed tables outside, which is most often my preference. 

Although Mazzottis is new to Costa Mesa, it was pre-established in Huntington Beach for about 30 something years, near Olive and Walnut.  There’s a picture of it on their new walls — I think I remember seeing it as a kid growing up while hanging out on HB Main Street.  And now they just re-opened on 19th Street in Costa Mesa with new family members.

I received a menu and 15% off coupon in the mail, and since it’s minutes away, of course I tried it.  They were so nice and allowed me to order a smaller portion Salad than listed on the menu.  I just wanted a side Salad, instead of the larger House Garden Salad — It was really fresh and the House Italian Dressing is good.  

I also tried Mazzottis Spinach Canneloni, which had a generous amount of Spinach.  I’m told that the Calzones are IT and referred to as “World Famous” — I haven’t truly enjoyed a Calzone in my life, but may need to give theirs a try.  Maybe I’ll be converted?

Garlic Bread came with the Canneloni, which was a nice bonus.  And I tried their Garlic Cheese Fries.  I wanted more garlic on them, but maybe that’s just me.  I’d go back and try some more stuff.  I’ve read the Meatball Sandwiches are good.  It’s great to have them in the neighborhood.

Related Links: – Mazzottis is mentioned in a comment near the bottom of the page.  OCThen is a great blog too. 

UPDATE 07/03/09:  It looks like they’ve closed.  That’s always a bummer to see.

Dolcissimo Where Did You Go?

August 21st, 2008 4 comments

Dolcissimo Cupcakes on 19th Street is NO MAS.  I’m not sure if they just moved or closed.  Their website doesn’t currently state.  It just shows business as usual, but their telephone number is out of order.  I’ll update this post later if I get the full story.  It appears the property owners didn’t have trouble securing another tenant.  The sign is already posted — Mazzottis Italian Deli & Catering, which doesn’t sound bad, but I’ll miss those Cupcakes.  I guess it’s another reason to make my own Cupcakes.

UPDATE 08/03/09:  It appears that Mazzottis opened, then closed a few months later.  The space is now occupied by Thai Tastee.

What I Did With That Sauce.

July 20th, 2008 No comments


What Sauce?  The Sauce associated with this post –

I added a little Cream and Shaved Parmesan, then had it with Penne Pasta.  The Sauce is good without Cream too, but it does add a needed dimension of flavor if you don’t have fresh herbs.  I think I’ll try it with Vodka next time.


A serving without the Cream.

Related Links:

Great Meatballs in Newport Beach.

June 4th, 2008 No comments

Great Meatballs are at the Spaghetti Bender on PCH.  I like to swing by to pick some up, even if it’s out of the way.  The Meat Sauce they are served in tastes homemade with hours of love.  The Meatballs are airy and filling, not dense, nor hard like too many others.  Two large Meatballs come in a side order.  That’s what I got, plus an order of Garlic Bread.

The Meatballs and Sauce are consistently good.  In comparison, the Garlic Bread is just okay.  It’s a little dry and doesn’t really have much of a Garlic flavor, but it’s nice to dip in the Sauce.  Another item worth mentioning here is the Original House Salad, which is different and delicious.  It has capers, avocado, tomatoes, and a few other ingredients I’ll need to report about next time I get it.

As a bonus, there’s a large Rosemary bush out front.  I usually pick a piece on the way out.  It comes in handy sometimes and smells good.  Now what should I use it for this time?


Related Links:

A Sampling of Nick & Niko.

June 1st, 2008 1 comment

I met a local food lover for dinner.  This guy knows his stuff too.  He suggested we first get an appetizer at Nick’s Pizza Ristorante Italiano, then walk across the parking lot to Niko Niko Sushi for some Yellowtail Cheek he had previously reserved.  I thought it was a great idea and here’s what it all looked like.

Don’t let the name Nick’s Pizza make you think it’s just a Pizza place.  It’s much more than that.  They serve some of the best Italian food in Costa Mesa.  It’s located in an odd spot in the middle of a parking lot, but once you get inside you don’t know that.  They have great service too.  We shared the Bowl of Mussels, described as steamed Mussels with Garlic, White Wine, Parsley and a Red Spicy Sauce.  I thought the mussels and the sauce had great flavor.

We then walked over to Niko Niko Sushi to collect our Yellowtail Cheek.  I’ve never had it before, but was game.  However, when we arrived, they informed us that they were out of it.  Bummer.  Instead we got Himachi, which included a bonus “we’re sorry” piece.  That was nice. 

They also made us an Octopus Salad and Seaweed Salad, which was surprisingly good.  I write ‘surprisingly’ because I’m not really a fan of either.  All Octopus I’ve had thus far has been too chewy to enjoy.  This actually wasn’t.  It was nicely marinated and tender.  And I have to also say that the Seaweed was the best I’ve had thus far too — Not too fishy tasting, like some can be.  Here’s the related pictures.

rubios-nicks-niko-007.JPG     rubios-nicks-niko-011.JPG

Thanks to my food friend for suggesting all.  It was delightful.

Related Links: , I do not see a website for Niko Niko Sushi at this time.