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.
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.
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.
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.
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.