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JANUARY 29, 2015

Italian cuisine manages to blend delicious flavors into dishes that can just as easily work for a family gathering or a romantic dinner for two. Italian cuisine can have a comfort food flair to it or be gourmet wonder. With such a dichotomy, it’s no wonder that Italian restaurants can all differ greatly from each other and we love that Orange County is home to a wide range of Italian eateries. Here are some great Italian restaurants in Orange County to choose from next time you’re craving some Italian food.


Brunos Italian Kitchen

Brunos Italian Kitchen is reminiscent of an Italian trattoria and has an inviting, family-style atmosphere with simple wooden tables and warm lighting. The food is inspired by the chef’s homecooked meals that he enjoyed growing up in Venice. Must-trys include the Arancini appetizer, which consists of risotto balls filled with cheese and ham, and the Budino al Carmello, a decadent caramel pudding.

Address: 210 West Birch Street, Brea

Cucina Enoteca

Cucina Enoteca puts a focus on farm to table Italian cuisine with creative gourmet twists in a hip, trendy space with an open kitchen. Cucina Enoteca also has a great wine list to pair with your meal. Two locations are in Orange County: one in Irvine and the other at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. The menu ranges from pizza with unique toppings like pancetta and Brussel sprouts, to savory pasta dishes such as the short rib pappardelle, to sumptuous meat and seafood entrees.

Address: 31 Fortune Drive, Irvine, and 951 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach

Il Fornaio

This is one Italian food chain that doesn’t skimp on quality or authenticity and Orange County is lucky to be home to an Il Fornaio in Irvine. The upscale ingredients elevate traditional Italian dishes such as Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, Cannelloni al Forno, and Pollo Toscana. Much of the pasta is made onsite, as is the bread and pizza dough. The Irvine Il Fornaio has a bright, airy dining room and a large patio.

Address: 18051 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine

Lucca Café

You’ll love the array of choices when dining at Lucca Café. A welcoming atmosphere incorporates in a cheese shop and wine bar with delectable Mediterranean-inspired menu options. The ingredients are organic and all-natural and the cuisine options include salads and traditional pasta dishes plus burgers and seafood. Lucca Café also does a weekend brunch.

Address: 6507 Quail Hill Parkway, Irvine

Il Dolce

Craving a pizza that will remind you of the ones you ate while on vacation in Italy? Head to Il Dolce in Costa Mesa for some Naples-style pizza. Toppings range from the simple and traditional like Margharita (just tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella) and Napolitana (tomato sauce with anchovies and olives) to the more elaborate, such as the Pineapple Bianca, which comes topped with a garlic and butter sauce, mozzarella, pineapple, pancetta, ham, and jalapeños. Il Dolce also serves up beer and wine plus some pasta dishes.

Address: 1902 Harbor Boulevard, Costa Mesa

All of these restaurants are participating in Orange County Restaurant Week, which is running from March 1 to March 7, 2015 and offers multi-course dinner menus at participating restaurants in Orange County for a prix-fixe menu price ranging from $20 to $50.

Now Enjoy Some Italian Cuisine at Sea

After you feast on all that Italian food close to home, take your Italian dining to a new level by enjoying some Italian cuisine while you sail at sea. Onboard Celebrity Cruises’ award-winning Solstice-class ships, you can find Tuscan Grille, which has a modern rustic ambiance and a mouth-watering array of gourmet Italian cuisine. This type of fine dining is expensive on land, but at sea it’s only $35 for a multi-course meal.

To set sail on a Celebrity cruise and eat at Tuscan Grille and the other high caliber restaurants onboard, browse the cruise itineraries at Celebrity Cruises or speak with your local travel agent.

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