Help: Best Fine Italian in Orange County
Hello fellow chowhounders,
I have been searching the boards for the best fine italian food in orange county. It is my brothers birthday and I wanted to take him out for a nice dinner.
Neither of us drink, so an extensive wine list is not in our criteria.
I am thinking Antonello's, Nello Cucina, Villa Nova, Dolce.
What do the chowhounders think?
I would also consider Onotria. It is up Bristol St. from Antonello's in Costa Mesa. It is Italian wine country cuisine. I would say that Antonello's is more upscale, but the menu at Onotria is decidedly more unique. It reminds me of the food I actually ate in Italy.
I feel Antonello's menu is pretty typical and overpriced. Fried calamari, scampi, minestrone soup, ravioli, caesar's salad etc.
I think saw capellini with shrimp on the menu for $31.00. It is quite beautiful inside though.
I went to Antonello's for a birthday party a couple of months ago with a group of 15 and we were able to get our own room. It was very nice and made the whole dinner very intimate. We shared some appetizers and all ordered different dishes so we could try one another's food.We tried a couple of pasta dishes, steak, veal, and seafood. I didn't think the food was very good at all.I'm quite picky with my Italian food. I've been to Italy twice and feel that pastas dishes in the US always leave me unsatisfied. And I thought it was extremely pricey.
I have gone to Onotria 3 times and every time, I've had a great experience. The food has always been stellar. Their menu is a lot better I then Antonello's. It has great seasonal dishes. My friend had the pork chop there and she was in love. You can really taste the freshness of their produce and the homemade pasta.
Thanks cdmedici and karynx78 for your suggestions as well. We ended up going to Antonello's and everyone enjoyed the meals they had.
Some of the dishes we had were the carpaccio, prosciutto, bresaola drizzled with lemon & truffle oil appetizer, we all really enjoyed this dish. For mains we had lobster and pasta dish, shrimp and pasta, cioppino, and a chicken milanese. I am sorry I don't remember the Italian names.
I will definitely try out Onotria for my brothers next birthday. Thanks again to all.
I went for the 1st time about a year and a half ago, and I won't go back. The atmosphere and view are nice, but the food just was not good. IIRC, I had the veal marsala with a side of severely undercooked vegetables. I probably would have gotten a better piece of veal at Olive Garden or Macaroni Grille, and paid half the price.
My vote would be for Ristorante Max's - it's a very new restaurant that opened in Newport Beach. When I was living in Europe last year, we went to Positano and ate at his father's restaurant there. So imagine my surprise when we moved back to So Cal and found a restaurant with nearly the same name.
If you enjoy "Italian" vs. "American Italian" pasta, you will like Ristorante Max.
Ironically, I didn't think that Ristorante Max in Positano was the best that the area had to offer - probably 4-5th down my list of favorites. The one here is still not the best that we had in Italy. But compared to the Italian restaurants here, it's good.
Antonello's is also a good bet for celebrations - probably more atmosphere than Ristorante Max's. But it's been years since I've been there.