Italian restaurants cover a lot of culinary ground from seafood to pasta dishes, as well as terrific wines that are an excellent compliment to whatever you order. If you’re in the mood for Italian food, try one of these five places in Orange County for a great dining experience.
6507 Quail Hill Parkway
Irvine, CA 92603
A lot of things can go into making a great Italian restaurant. One of the things is the use of fresh – not dried – pasta, which makes a huge difference in the flavor of the dish. Lucca Cafe never uses dried pasta, and it shows in the dishes like the seafood linguine with mahi mahi, salmon and shrimp. You’ll even find great Italian dishes – like lasagna and pasta with “Sunday Sauce” meat ragu – on the weekend brunch menu. Plenty of great wines are available to make your meal even better. Ask your server for pairing recommendations.
640 W First St., Suite C
Tustin, CA 92780
Located in a cozy little spot in the shopping center right off the 55 Freeway, visiting Pina’s means feeling very homey from the moment you walk through the door. You’ll get the taste of home too, no matter what you order. The basil vinaigrette and bread are made right in the restaurant, as are some of the pastas like the gnocchi. It tastes like the food your mom or grandma used to make for you – only better. Every dish here is made to order, so you’ll have to wait a little bit. However, it’s worth it, no matter whether you order the eggplant parmesan (pictured) or one of the other amazing pastas.
18420 Von Karman Ave.
Irvine, CA 92612
When it comes to Italian restaurants, authenticity is probably one of the greatest characteristics that patrons seek. It’s hard to get more authentic than Prego Ristorante, as the chef, Ugo Allesina, hails from Italy. Here you’ll find any sort of Italian dish you want; from pizza and pasta to vegetarian dishes and a variety of risotto. No matter what you order, you’re sure to find something you enjoy. The location makes this a great place for lunch, as well. And the elegance makes this a great location for date night.
1080 Bayside Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
While Orange County may boast a good number of Italian restaurants, it can’t boast many that have a location as desirable as Sapori. This place is right on the water on Newport Beach, and it’s only one of the things that makes this restaurant an attractive place to eat. The penne otero is definitely one of those reasons. It’s a pasta dish made with a vodka-cream sauce, fresh tarragon and bacon. The salmon in a lemon-caper sauce is another great reason to eat here. Adding to the charm of this place is a fireplace that makes for an extremely cozy atmosphere.
Bruno’s Italian Kitchen
210 W Birch St.
Brea, CA 92821
Peter Serantoni – the chef at Bruno’s Italian Kitchen – spent most of his childhood in Venice, Italy, and has mastered the cuisine of that area. Bruno’s provides an environment that feels like you’re eating at home. One of the dishes that makes a trip to Bruno’s worthwhile is the Papardelle Bruno, made with short ribs, mushrooms, and papardelle that is made in house. In addition to a great regular menu, you’ll also find great vegetarian and gluten-free options here, as well.
Related: Best Pasta In Orange County