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Celebration Dinner in Irvine - Italian Restaurant Recs?

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Taking a friend out for celebration dinner in Irvine area, looking for a good italian restaurant. Any recommendations? Close to Irvine also ok. Thanks!

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  1. Antonellos in Costa Mesa (across from SCP) is very good.

    Il Fornaio is pretty good. Chain restaurant, but nice atmosphere and good food in Irvine.

    1. Vessia on Barranca & Culver in Irvine is really good. Roma d'Italia on Camino Real in Tustin is a family run place that;s been there for years.

      1. I really like Prego, the Agnolotti d'Aragosta is delicious.


        1. I know it's a chain, but when I worked in Irvine people I talked to really liked Maggiano's near Southcoast Plaza. I can't vouch for it myself though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: crystaw

            Maggianos is pretty good. They have a family style dinner (I think 4 or 6 persons minimum) for 22 dollars (this price may have changed) that is 3 courses, all you can eat. They even pack up all the leftovers for you to take home. Buca di Beppo is another chain, they're in Tustin off Jamboree, decent food at a decent price. This is a family style dining place, so everything is large portions intended for sharing.

          2. I second Vessia. I am from Irvine and my family goes there all the time for celebration dinners...It is off of Barranca and Culver in the Crossroads mini-mall...

            Just had dinner there 1 month ago and loved it!

            1. Are you looking for more authentic Italian or American style? What about atmosphere?

              1 Reply
              1. re: cdmedici

                Thanks for suggestions!! Really appreciate your input... will check out Vessia.

              2. One more to throw into the mix if it's not too late: Ristorante Max. Owned by a family who has a restaurant in Positano that I've been to.

                Try the lobster with spaghetti as a split starter and the shrimp scampi (it's like the scampi you get in Italy with the hard-shell claws but super-sweet meat)!

                Very authentic and not as saucey as American Italian restaurants.

                2 Replies
                  1. re: brekkie_fan

                    brekkie fan:

                    It's in Newport Beach:
                    1617 Westcliff Drive, Newport Beach

                    It's expensive but a different Italian than Antonello's and Maggiano's. I like the fresh pastas. I miss the preparations of fresh seafood and pastas in Italy - this place was not the best in Positano but it's pretty good for OC.

                1. Antonellos is better than Il Fornaio. However, it's pretentious and a little tacky.....murals of Italy, waiters with Pantomime Italian accents and fancy plates.Food beats Il Fornaio though which is about as Italian as Taco Bell is Mexican

                  Think I'd take a drive to LA

                  1. I would highly recommend Onotria in Costa Mesa. High end. Great wines.
                    For Southern Italian and more family style, try Roma d'Italia in Tustin. Been there forever and always busy.