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Pina's Bistro review

  • k

Just went for lunch there and the cafe is a cute little place. Named after Pina, the chef, who also has three daughters that work there if I'm not mistaken. The atmosphere is mini-mall, although on the inside there is that piped-in Italian music playing and framed photographs and statues from the old company. Menu looks like almost any other red-sauce Italian in town, except the prices are a little on the high side. And there is a special's blackboard with more exotic and interesting items, some veering from the red-sauce Italian school of cooking. From previous posts and according to the menu, everything is created fresh from the "best ingredients" and made to order. Anyways, I ordered from the menu (I felt like an old standby) and chose the egglant parmigiana meal which came with a little dinner salad which was quite good, and some bread that was kind of on the bland side. But the eggplant dish itself just wasn't that good, the cheese seemed a little rubbery, the sauce a little too watery, and the flavors didn't mesh together too well. I wasn't tasting any fresh, wonderful flavors, was in the mood for Italian comfort but didn't really receive it. And at 11 bucks for the dish that doesn't make me too happy. The prices are way high, given that the dish was so pedestrian. but then again maybe i ordered incorrectly. Maybe I should have stuck to the Neopalitan pizzas. But I still mustered by the gumption to order dessert. And that was the savior of the whole meal. The tiramisu was in one word: excellent. Definitely in the very top of the tiramisus I ever had. If the other desserts are half as good, it might just be a place to stay away from the food and use as a dessert place where someone can just relax over an espresso and a slice of cake. Anyways, should I try it again for the food. Anything I should definitely go for besides those desserts and what else should I stay away from. As stated before, that dessert saved the meal along with the homey atmosphere and pina's attractive, waitress daughter.

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  1. EGGPLANT? What were you thinking? Never tried it there never will (that's a MANGIA,MANGIA in HB thing EGGPLANT SORINTINO stuffed with fantastic Ricotta). The best items are PIZZA, anything with HOMEMADE SAUSAGE,Homemade Pasta, Antipasta SALAD, Pina's daughters(strike that! Kar reads these sometimes), ALL DESERT! Unfortunately you didn't get to have some of her other deserts which as good as the Tiramisu is (and it's AWESOME) will really get your attention. Let's not lose sight that it's a Semi Pizza place and not upper-scale italian dining. Today I was at Pastina in LA fighting with Kar over a 5lb Lobster(special order only). Second best Tiramisu is Pastina or Mangia , Mangia, all homemade.

    2 Replies
    1. re: russkar

      can't agree with pastina serving a good tiramisu, very boozy and not too tasty. the one served at pina's is a billion times better. but the other desserts at pastina are very good like the chocolate rasberry cake (pure heaven), the chocolate macadamia nut (though it is a little too rich and kind of like eating a candy bar slice), and the aforementioned cheesecake. and pastina makes good lobster raviolis, pizzas, and an excellent filet mignon in congnac sauce.

      i will try pina's again, if only for the desserts. but i may give the dinner specials board a try or one of the neapolitan-style pizza. i wonder if they make pumpkin or lobster raviolis there. i think somewhere on the specials board it mentions that they will honor special requests.

      1. re: kevin

        I think you all need to take Samantha's advice and go back to Pina's Bistro, it's like going home, the best Italian I have ever had. Her homemade sausage is to die for, and her and her daughters are great once you know the family you are family! Give it another try, and don't hesitate to customize your dish, I always have the fresh spinach and linguine with sauted sausage in a spicy arriabiata! You won't be sorry!

    2. You should go back and order something with sausage in it. You can actually add sausage to any of the entrees- spaghetti, ravioli, etc. I agree that the tiramisu is outrageously good, but in terms of the entrees I think you just ordered something that Pina's probably doesn't serve all that often. If you're up for it, I would try it again. I honestly think it is one of the best Italian restaurants I have ever been to and I am extremely picky about my Italian food. Gotta go for the pizza and sausage dishes-yum!

      1. I agree with you that Pina's food is kind of overpriced and just okay. I never have seen what others have in the place, though maybe it has just been one of those off-nights when we went. One big exception is the PIZZA ! Get "the works", it is very very good, IMO. Well worth the money, which is only slightly higher than any other good pizza if I recall correctly.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Mike Greene

          i do planning on getting the pizza. it's not terribly bad at about 11 or 12 bucks a pie. but the desserts are already more than worth it.

        2. After reading a mention of Pina's Sausage somewhere, I finally stopped by for a pizza. Ordered "The Works" to go.

          Got there right when they opened, so they weren't busy and spent some time chatting while the pizza cooked. Pina is very nice and very proud of her cooking.

          The finished pie gives the impression it was a "created", not simply piled together. No toppings overwhelm. "The Works" now runs $15 and $20, but it is amazing.

          We will definitely be back.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

            Friends of mine highly recommended this place, citing that the chef (Pina) was from Italy. After moving back from London and spending most of our vacations in Italy, I was excited to hear about such a place so close to home. When we pulled up to the Pina's, I had a sinking feeling that we had been there before moving to London and not thinking much of the food. But since we had my family with us, I made light of it and decided to give the place another chance.
            We went on Saturday night, and they had a large party outside. Being a little place with two waitresses (her daughters), they weren't really equipped to deal with the large party so the service for us was absolutely horrendous. We got our menus 10 minutes after arriving and our drinks didn't arrive for a while after.
            We shared two appetizers - the beef carpaccio and the tomato mozzarella with basil. The beef carpacio was delicious, but the weak slices of tomato and mozzarella were so disappointing. Made me wonder about the fresh ingredients.

            I then ordered the seafood linguine dish - boy was it a mistake! The seafood (especially the fish) tasted fishy and not fresh at all. The pasta and broth were so bland. If I was expecting the fresh Italian seafood pasta dishes of Positano, that dish killed it. I can't remember what my sibs and spouse had, but we were pretty disappointed.

            For dessert, we ordered the tiramasiu and gelato. Gelato - ha! It tasted like what I would expect of Dreyer's! Gelato Paradiso in NB has much better gelato. They should have just called it ice cream.

            The total bill was $170 for four. What a total waste of money. I should have splurged and gone to Ristorante Max in NB. It would have been expensive but it would have been worth it. I feel had by this place.

            1. re: cqt

              pina's also makes the best tiramisu almost anywhere.

          2. I agree with Kevin, stay away... far away.

            That way I can get a freakin' table!

            Folks, you don't go someplace that has homemade gnocci and order a red sauce, are you kidding? If you want red sauce, go to Roma d', not to Pina's.

            You go to Pina's for the Calamari Umodo (not tomatoes and cheese... sheesh). You go for the walnut gorgonzola gnocci with a side of sausage. You go for the pizza (order ahead) that is amazing. Get the wild salmon, you can't go wrong. The seabass....

            You don't order red sauce (clearly there on the menu to appease the less adventurous in the crowd) at a place with a creative menu with great ingredients. That would be like going to Sushi Wasabi and getting a California roll and telling me the sushi sucks.

            Please stay away...

            Signed,

            A local

            PS - Pina, I'll be calling in for take out tomorrow night after work. You know, the usual. ;)

            3 Replies
            1. re: holy chow

              I've had some hits and misses at Pina's,but always felt it was overpriced for the food quality...Anyway,isn't the mark of a good Italian kitchen what they can do with the simple dishes,ie a basic red sauce,a pesto or a bolognese.Pina's does these decently,but not in a stellar fashion.

              1. re: stormin norman

                Don't know diddly about Italy or London.
                I love Pina's pizza.

                Then again, I live between Tustin and Bangkok.
                I have been told I know nothing about Thai food.

                I guess ignorance is bliss!

              2. re: holy chow

                I stopped by today, but didn't see the walnut gorgonzola gnocci or the calamari umodo on the menu. And, what are the price for those dishes? There wasn't a dessert menu and hence no prices, but since people here liked the tiramasu so much, I ended up ordering that. Boy, that tiramasu ended up being kinda expensive. Overall, I thought the food itself was fine, but the prices are a bit high. But, I'm willing to give it another shot.