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Feb 19, 2007 05:13 PM

Lake Elsinore

The great weather this weekend was just one of the good things. We finally found a restaurant that makes the mark in Lake Elsinore. Arrivederci Roma. (However, don't start comparing to the finest LA restaurants.)

After being tired of following recommendations of "great places" in Lake Elsinore only to find it a 3 on my scale of 10, I was beginning to wonder if this city would ever host a place worth patronizing. But, we tried it again and went for dinner at Arrivederci Roma.

I was in the area of the place at lunch when I saw a few people walking to their car with their "doggie" boxes. I asked what they thought of the place and they said it was very good. So, we tried.

It was very good. The best, we decided, was the homemade bread brought warm to the table and refilled if requested. They provide butter and offer to serve oil and balsamic for dipping. We both chose the option with our entree for salad instead of soup. It was lovely mixed greens (but no iceberg or romaine) with a house oil and vinegar. The vinegar tasted like a fine balsamic with a hint of sweetness and not much bitter or too sour. The portion was quite large for a starter salad.

The ambiance is professional and cozy. The service was excellent.

I ordered a chicken picata. The sauce was thicker than I am used to, but the lemon flavor came through quite fresh, but not overpowering. I kind of wish they had broccoli or some vegetable on the plate, but the side served ith it was pasta.

I didn't have a taste of any other dishes so can not comment. But, everyone seemed pleased. The people at the other table also had a guest drop in who said the newest italian place in place Elsinore, Ravioli's (on Main Street), has a zillion people waiting to get in. I think it's been open about a month. But, they'd eaten there and enjoyed Arrivederci Roma
just as much. Plus, it's more comfortable and cozy at Arrivederci Roma. (But, I still want to try Ravioli's, too)

It's been open since 2005, but because of the location, I was thinking it might just be another over-rated place. But, I was happy to find that not true.

Here's to hoping others will follow suit and there will be more great restaurants in Lake Elsinore. Temecula offers a few (at wineries and Pechanga), but that's too far to drive (15 miles) after a great day on the lake.

Arrivederci Roma
31731 Riverside Drive
Lake Elsinore

Has anyone else tried this place?

Knowing the finer dining in LA and using my scale including those, I still give this place a 7 on a scale of 10.

Other good places we've found in the area (but not a comfortable dinner house)

(1) that hot dog stand (hole in the wall with about 4 parking spaces) on the northwest corner of Diamond Drive/Railroad Canyon and Mission Trail/Lakeshore Drive. It's near "The Storm" baseball stadium. Can;t rememnber the name.

(2) Tacos Elsinore on Grand Ave (corner of Corydon)

(3) Valley Pizza on Grand (next door to Tacos Elsinore)

(4) the burger place on Main Street (hole in the wall) about three blocks from the I-15. Can't remember the name. Charbroiled burgers that taste like backyard bbq. Simple stuff. Just tasty.

(5) Elvira's Restaurant (Mexican), 32391 Riverside Drive, Lake Elsinore

Does anyone else have their list for Lake Elsinore?

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  1. Could you tell me a little more about Tacos Elsinore and Elviras?

    1 Reply
    1. re: kare_raisu

      Considering the number of Mexican restaurants in the area, I would say the two I mentioned lean to the standard "gringo" style of Mexican cooking.

      Tacos Elsinore is a to-go place with tables. Good fish tacos and charo.

      Elvira's is clean and fresh (I guess that's improved according to some people who live in Elsinore) Very mild salsa with chips and that appeals to me. I can't take a lot of heat in my food. I had a very tasty chicken enchilada verde. Other Mexican places I'd tried tasted like commisary food - I liked Elvira's better than Guadalajara and Las Palmas in L.E. and Guadalajara Grill in Temecula

      I am waiting for the remodel to be done before I can try the place on the corner of Main Street park. I think it is called El Unico. Anyone tried that place?

      I can't say I am the ultimate expert on the intracies of authentic home-cooked Mexican dishes. And, from the looks of it, there may be a few hole-in-the walls to try that might fit that bill. But, I like it fresh and clean, sort of predictable, and with the flavors distinct and harmonizing.

      There is an abundance of Mexican restaurants in Lake Elsinore. What ones do you like?

    2. Arrivaderci Roma had a kithcenn fire a wekk after the original post and is still not open.
      Another GREAT Italian (better then Arrivaderci) is Vincenzio's on Casino Drive in Lake Elsinore. The best.

      1. I don't know about Arrivaderci's - I haven't been there yet but want to try it. We have, however, been to Ravioli's on Main St. It is the best food I have EVER had, I crave it daily. I can't go there enough, it is pricey, but service, atmosphere and everything is spectacular! There are a few great mexian restaurants in Elsinore, I haven't been to one I didn't like as of yet.

        1. have started going to this area a lot in the past 6 months. seem to be stuck on "vincenzo's" italian. have had wonderful food and great service. especially like their pasta with roasted garlic and olive oil.

          last time i checked, arrivaderci roma had still not re-opened after the fire. will now definately have to try ravioli's - we've walked by it before, but decided to drive to vincenzo after thinking about the pasta.

          are there any other specific recommendations out there? especially in lake elsinore itself? or canyon lake?

          6 Replies
          1. re: justanotherpenguin

            Well, I am happy to report that I have been finding more good places to eat in this Lake Elsinore area. While chains are still quite popular here (a new Lone Star Steak House going in pretty soon), I have found some one-of-a-kinds that are really good.

            I still love Vincenzo's - - but it depends on what you order. The owners are the chefs and they offer handmade gnocchi (a rarity anymore). I love gnocchi, but don't prefer red sauce. Their portions are magnanimous! A half order (HALF!) of a meatball sandwich stills gives some leftovers!

            Someone mentioned Ravioli's already.
            I agree it's really good. Several seem to agree, since Ravioli's expanded into the store space adjacent them after just a few months of being open. Ravioli's Italian Bistro is in the historical district of Lake Elsinore on Main Street. Also recently opened there is Flour Fusion, a cute little gourmet bakery with coffee tables (and expressos) and sandwiches.

            Just down the street is a really good Mexican place - to-go order, but eat in patio/garden area. The name is el Unico. Sometimes, their carne asada is really tough. I like their Chili rellano plate. Others love their burritos. It is hard to see this tiny place, but its on the corner of Library St and Main St, which is the location of the oldest park in Elsinore.

            Many people will recommend Guadalajara (sp?) on Main Street, but I've never been impressed (except the service). And, it's so loud in their - always - that my ears hurt.

            I have also enjoyed Mexican breakfasts at el Comal on Mission Trail (toward Wildomar). Very clean, bright, cheery. Standard gringo menu. Great service. Dirt driveway.

            Another good restaurant (that varies with what you order) is at the new golf course, The Links at Summerly (kind of across the street from The Storm baseball stadium). It closes at sundown since its is the golf course clubhouse. So. . . . lunch everyday, on-the-go breakfasts only during the week, and full breakfast menu and lunch menu on Saturday and Sundays. My experience is that most of their one-time specials (listed on the chalkboard) are usually very good. I had a smoked salmon salad one day that beat anything I found in L.A. I hope they do it again some time.
            Here's their menu.

            I've been finding more good restaurants in Murrieta, but nothing totally mind-blowing.
            The Brick Marble
            The Asia
            Richie's Diner
            RJ's Sizzlin' Steer

            Meanwhile, that hot dog stand I recommended before is now closed; new place went in.

            I am really praying for more new restaurants around here besides chains. I even called Taco Mesa owner and asked him if he would . . . (balsy, huh?) and he said he is expanding into LA and San Diego before Riverside County. Darn! My friends around here make me drive into OC to pick up orders for them!

            Let me know when you find a good one. Someone said there are only about 16 restaurants in L.E. (???), but I think there are more. They were looking for participants in an upcoming "tasting" event. Ravioli's will be there, but they also signed Pizza Hut as a participant . Go figure !??

            From what I hear, the best pizza in town in at Pizza Bowl on Riverside Drive.

            Canyon Lake doesn't have many restaurants in their city, but the Canyon Hills area of Lake Elsinore serves them and is expanding. Amato's in Canyon Lake is kind of good, but I don't patronize Italian restaurants often because I've been trained alot on making it myself. But, Ravioli's and Vincenzio's I will go to, gladly.

            Anway, don't know of many great finds yet in Canyon Lake. Let me know what you've found, too.

            1. re: kc girl

              first of all, kc, thank you for the info. i will attempt to post my own observations from my visits to the area every 2-3 weeks or so.

              was down there today and had lunch at "pepe's mexican restaurant and cantina" which is in a shopping center across from the main entrance to canyon lake. (31780 Railroad Canyon Rd) it was ok.

              the two of us shared an order of their buffalo wings, then i had a chile colorado tostada while the wife had a chile relleno and a taco. the wing sauce was good, had a bit of a bite, but the wings were not crispy enough for our taste. waitress said that we can order the wings crispy and the sauce on the side (rather than smothered) - may try this at some future time.

              the tostada was not special. the lettuce and other greens were not as fresh as they should be and the chile colorado was very tender, but did not have much flavor. also, they put the colorado and the cheese directly onto the tortilla, then put the green stuff on top. so the bottom was mush and the top soggy. would not order it again.

              the taco also left something to be desired. the shell was not warm, so everything turned cooler very quickly. taste was on the blah side, needed salt. the chile relleno, however, was very good. hot, lots of cheese, tasty chile. the batter was very light and created a "puffy" appearance on the plate. would definately order again.

              so for the above plus 4 margaritas and a glass of wine, bill was $50 before tip. btw: i thought that the margaritas were way too sweet, but wife liked them. house cabernet was good. also: the chips and salsa were very good. chips very light, salsa with a bite.

              i think that ravioli's will be next.

              1. re: justanotherpenguin

                Vincenzos does nothing for me, very americanized italian. Been there 5 times and never felt inspired, just generic home cooking, Calimari is very good cold dipping sauce I could do without.
                Raviolis in Lake Elsinore is excellent, you would never expect this place in Elsinore. I'm a New Yorker spoiled by a chef father and am disgusted with food in this area between Temecula and Corona, there have been a few decent places like Kokoro Sushi in Elsinore and the new Hibachi tables at ZipFusion are very good. Raviolis is excellent, I was a cook in NYC (no longer) and intend to bring a famous east coast chef friend to Raviolis after our meal tonight, I really think he will enjoy it. The deserts were not as good as the main course but out of 4 different main courses they were all top notch and hot, great service as well, the chef came out to greet us a few times and they do cooking classes, I'm signing up next week with the wife and I'm 51 been cooking all my life, my brother is a part owner or 3 Lebanese restaurants in the east coast so I know good food. I intend to go back at least once a week.
                Support this place, it is a gem in a very baron area. Not for the bargain hunter but worth every penny.

                Mexican... La Unica on Main is OK and they own the one in the park I've heard people talk about.
                But the best thing they do IMO is the Chili Rellenos Plate, very good, everything else is maybe too authentic for me.

                Still looking for Pizza after 15 years, we make our own in a Green Egg, buy the dough in Aneheim at Cortinas (good Italian deli)
                Also from Temecula there is Excellent sandwiches, coldcuts and lunchtime soups, no real seating though except outside. Pizza dough is OK in a pinch, too fluffy but Cortinas dough is excellent, get a oven stone crank the overn to 550 let the stone heat up for 30 minutes and make your own NY Pizza.

                NYPD in Corona is OK for Pizza, sauce is a little strange, I prefer a more simple sauce. Food is OK but they are really from Brooklyn, it is a good choice if in that area for a movie or something.

                Raviolis will be getting my money for a while until I have tried the whole menu !

                1. re: jsuhr

                  You sound like an experienced pallete and I would like your opinions.
                  Have you tried the pizza at Valley Pizza on Riverside Drive?
                  Also, have you tried Joe and Tony's (famous Chicago Pizza) on the west side of the lake (Lakeland Village) on Grand Avenue? They have changed some menu items and recipes since they opened last year. Fast food. Still iffy to me. I liked their cornbread crust, but seems that changed it. Counter order, tables available. Good cheesecake.
                  Finally, any opinon on the clubhouse restaurant at The Links at Summerly(new golf course)?

                  One recommendation I have for YOU is the artichoke at the sports bar inside the new bowling alley, Trevi Entertainment Center. I love it !

                  I, too, am praying for some improved dining in the Lake Elsinore area.

                  1. re: kc girl

                    Ooops ! Not Valley Pizza on Riverside. It is on Grand (I like it). But, I meant Pizza Bowl on Riverside. Any opinion?

                2. re: justanotherpenguin

                  had an opportunity to try ravioli's yesterday. very, very nice! different from vincenzo's - what we would consider more northern italian versus sicilian. (though having spent about three weeks in italy over the last couple of years, we found it pretty mixed up over there as well.)

                  started with an appetizer of fried calamari, shrimp and zucchini. its a large order, very lightly cooked with an outstanding red (warmish) sauce. would definitely have again, but would like to have a larger group than two people to split. wife had house salad - very fresh. (it seems like everything was very fresh!) i had pasta e fagioli soup. more vegetables than i found in most places in italy, but absolutely delicious.

                  wife then had half cheese/half meat ravioli with bolognese sauce. great! cheese were better than meat. i had lasagna - very cheesy and saucy. the bread (panini, i guess) was hot and served with butter, an olive spread, and roasted garlic. didn't have butter when you can have delicious olive spread and roasted garlic!

                  service was excellent by a young lady named tamika. bill for above with two drinks and a glass of house chianti was $78 before tip. wine list is on the shorter side, but appears to have been carefully selected. i understand that they have entertainment on weekend evenings, we were there for lunch.

                  absolutely wonderful place, will definitely go again and want to try more stuff but would not hesitate ordering any of the same. thanks to those who brought ravioli's to our attention. sure hope that it makes it in the long run. almost hard to believe that it is in lake elsinore!

            2. had an opportunity to check out amato's in canyon lake for lunch on thursday. both ravioli's and vincenzo's are superior. amato's is somewhat run down, and the food is average at best. we split an antipasto and a pizza. ok, but definitely not worth going out of your way for. they do have a separate full bar area, but not attractive at all.