Ciao Bella: The Top 5 Italian Restaurants in Orange County

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Living la dolce vita isn’t tough with so much to celebrate here in Orange County. And there’s no better way to fete or feast than with a great Italian spread. Here are the hottest places to get your pizza, pasta and more. One meal at any of these Italian eateries and you’ll feel like part of the family.

1 Canaletto Ristorante Veneto

Canaletto lost its new kid on the block rep fast. With food that’s not the norm for Italian – its regional Venetian cuisine is lighter and more seafood-based – it’s already become a favorite. It’s location at Fashion Island doesn’t hurt, either. For Italian food with a side of coastal shopping, there’s one stop you’ll be at over and over.

545 Newport Center Dr.

Newport Beach, CA 92660

949.640.0900

www.ilfornaio.com/canalettonb

2 Nello Cucina

Sitting pretty in Atrium Court at South Coast Plaza, there’s no place like Nello Cucina. Get away from the bustle of the center by coming over to this restaurant, which serves up specialties like osso bucco and their specialty veal burger. Whether you’re refueling or just need a quiet escape, this kitchen’s got comfort food down.

3333 Bear St. at South Coast Plaza

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

714.540.3365

www.nellocucina.com

3 Antonello Ristorante

Since ’79, Antonello has been wowing critics and foodies alike, who proclaim it the best Italian in all of OC and LA, but see for yourself why this restaurant’s an institution. For every occasion and celebration, there’s Antonello, but if you’re just looking for authentic Italian eats any day of the week, this is your place, too. No special occasion necessary.

3800 S. Plaza Dr. at South Coast Plaza Village

Santa Ana, CA 92704

714.751.7153

www.antonello.com

4 Cucina Alessa

This cozy restaurant is bustling with the county’s big hitters (think Rob Hurley) but don’t get it wrong, it’s still serving up the simple Italian that made it a crowd favorite and critical darling. The original location (there’s also one in Surf City and one coming to Laguna) is cozy without being cramped – be sure to ask for the off-the-menu specialties.

6700 W. Coast Hwy.

Newport Beach, CA 92663

949.645.2148

www.cucinaalessa.com

5 Ecco

The real new kid on the block, Ecco is the Camp’s spot for oven-baked pizza and a contemporary spin on Italian staples. And being that it’s at OC’s greenest center, you can be sure they’re sourcing locally and highlighting the best of the season’s ingredients. One visit to Ecco and you can eat up without feeling on ounce of green guilt.

2937 Bristol St.

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

714.444.3226

www.eccocm.com

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