Ciao Down: The Haute 5 Italian Restaurants in Orange County

When you’re not jet-setting to Rome for the weekend, sometimes it’s nice to know that quality Italian cuisine is at your Orange County fingertips. Whether you’re in the mood for handmade pasta or a modern take on Chicken Marsala, these haute restaurants will send you to Tuscany with their rustic and original food.

With its mixture of California Wine Country and contemporary Italian, this restaurant is sure to surprise you with their vast menu and interesting flavors. Get your appetite going with the zucchini blossoms, but save some of that pinot noir for your filet mignon, served with pomegranate-dry cherry & port wine reduction. Mmm bene!

Onotria is located at 2831 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA., (714) 641 5952.

Ti Amo
If you want a good home-cooked meal, but you’re not exactly fit to fry a fish, head to Ti Amo for a family feel and exceptional Italian meal. Laguna lovers pack this place on Valentine’s Day because of the quaint feel of romance on the small spot on the sea. The owner is known to walk the tables and check on your entree, like a true Italian chef. Since it was built in 1928, many special people have graced their red tablecloths, from Billy Joel to Magic Johnson. If you want a dish that will have you singing operettas, try their mixed seafood grille like the Spiedini de Ti Amo with hoisin lemon marinated and served over saffron rice, with papaya and almonds.

Ti Amo is located at 31727 South Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA., (949) 499-5350.

A Newport Beach culinary icon, Rothchild’s is known for serving the finest Italian Cuisine. Ditch the tortellini and lasagna, and transport yourself to royal Roma for the best vitello (veal) around. For a true taste of Italy, go for the Baby Rack of Lamb Abruzzi, a baby rack of lamb sautéed in sherry and served with basil, shallots, garlic, mushrooms, and rosemary.

Rothchild’s is located at 2407 East Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar, CA., (949) 673-3750.

Sorrento Grille
As the perfect ending to a stroll through downtown Laguna Beach, Sorrento Grille puts a modern twist on Italian bistro cuisine. Want to surprise the girlfriend with a romantic night? Reserve the private wine room for a tasting or a table by the fireplace. Chef Ryan Adams had the ingenious idea to host a happy hour, with 50 percent off all the food at early hours. Splurge on the Filet Mignon, which is served with blue cheese and shallot veal marmalade in a cabernet sauce.

Sorrento Grille is located at 370 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, CA., (949) 494-8686.

Canaletto Ristorante Veneto
Created by the owner’s of Il Fornaio, Canaletto aims to bring the best of Venetian cuisine from the freshest pesce to the best prosecco. Their Carpaccio di Spada is a hit–a house-cured swordfish with artichokes, some Canaletto-goers claim it’s the best they’ve ever had. If you’d like a meatier dish, try the Cannelloini di Pollo–pasta stuffed with rotisserie chicken, spinach, sundreied tomatoes, mozzarella, béchamel sauce, and portabello mushrooms. Top it all off with their Colombina di Cioccolato (chocolate mousse) and you may be here to stay.

Canaletto Ristorante Veneto is located at 545 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA., (949) 640-0900.