Share this:
A Taste of Southern Italy

“ ‘La cucina povera’ is a way of life in the Campania region of southern Italy, where cooks use fantastic local products to create a bold, flavorful cuisine that is affordable for every family,” says Frank DeLoach, the executive chef of Neapolitan Pizzeria, which opened in early November in the old Café Vienna location in south Laguna. “Creating cuisine with California products and the spirit of ‘la cucina povera’ is our passion.” Using all natural, seasonal ingredients and a Stefano Ferrara Neapolitan pizza oven—a true work of art that turns humble products into unique dishes, the chef says—the pizzeria boasts soulful salads, pizzas and sweets. Unique offerings include the octopus and potato salad, Autumn pizza (pumpkin and agrodolce) and affogato (coffee-based drink with vanilla gelato) dessert. (949-499-4531; —A.B.

Italian Culinary Secrets Revealed

If you are familiar with the Alessá restaurants in coastal cities, or if you have dined at the local trendy Mare Culinary Lounge, you might have gushed about the mouth-watering Italian cuisine that left you mentally hungry for more. Now, you can learn the secrets of that great Italian cooking by taking culinary lessons at Mare from Alessandro Pirozzi, an award-winning chef and owner of the Alessá family of restaurants and Mare Culinary Lounge.

With two four-class cooking collections—Collection I through November 2012 and Collection II in January/February 2013—Alessandro teaches eager learners the art that goes into the making of appetizers, pasta, main courses, panini and pizzas.

In the appetizer course, foodies will learn to make three hors d’oeuvres and be served three special wines. The pasta course features tips on making the perfect pasta dough and different sauces. The main course class allows culinary students to pair fish or meat, along with savory side dishes, with the chef’s selection of wines. And finally, the panini and pizza course demonstrates the secrets behind Mare’s famous thin, crispy crust. Each class includes a tasting of all demonstrated dishes and a participation gift. —J.H.

Out-of-This-World Dessert

There’s vanilla ice cream and a hint of maple. It’s hot, cold, sweet and salty. But what is it? Opened in Laguna in summer 2012 with a unique beach-themed interior, Umami Burger introduces the UFO (Unidentified Fried Object)—a delectable vanilla-maple, cream-filled oatmeal cookie sandwich tempura battered and fried, topped with a mint leaf, vanilla bean ice cream and course sea salt. A savory mix of sweet and salty, the UFO is a popular choice at Umami, even though it is not printed on the menus. “It’s a huge hit,” general manager Kywan Lee says. “People order it before their burgers to make sure they don’t become too full for dessert. Part of the fun is that when customers order it, they don’t know what’s in it.” The delicacy is only available at the Laguna Beach and Los Feliz locations.

More tantalizingly epic desserts around town:

Hog Heaven Pie from Lumberyard: A colossal slice of peanut butter mousse fused with chocolate ganache set upon a cookie crumb crust and drizzled with chocolate and caramel syrup.
Kona pie from Rock’n Fish: An oversized ice cream cake with three layers of chocolate, vanilla and coffee ice cream, mixed with Butterfinger, toffee and Oreo crumbs, and topped with sugared almonds and whipped cream. —J.H.

Tantalizing Holiday Specials

Laguna Beach restaurants are celebrating the holiday season the best way they know how: with lots of food and drink specials and specially crafted holiday menus. Here are just a few to look out for; contact your favorite restaurant in town to find out what they have planned.

Treat your taste buds on Dec. 25 with the Christmas menu from Raya at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. The first course is a savory butternut squash soup served with apple chips and crispy iberico ham. Three options are offered for the main entree in addition to one vegetarian option: your choice of New York sirloin, seared bass, achiote roasted turkey or grilled chayote. A warm gingerbread cake served with apple cranberry chutney and praline ice cream is served for desert just in time for the holidays. Bon appétit from 6 to 9 p.m., $110 per person. (949-240-2000;

French 75’s Christmas Eve menu served on Dec. 24 features entree options such as truffle Parmesan risotto served with wild mushrooms and filet mignon with a dijon pomme puree and sauteed broccolini. Save room for desert choices like an apple tarte tatin, Guittard Chocolate souffle or pumpkin cheesecake. The special holiday meal is $55 per person for three courses or $70 per person for four courses. (949-494-8444;

Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink celebrates both its one-year anniversary and the holidays with events on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. On Dec. 24, enjoy prime rib with all of the fixings, $35 per person and $17.50 for children ages 10 and under. On the evening of Dec. 31, chef Ryan Adams invites the community to Three Seventy Common to sample special appetizers and entrees to bid adieu to 2012. The regular menu will also be available on both nights. (949-494-8989; —B.T.

New at Stonehill Tavern

Celebrity chef Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern at The St. Regis Monarch Beach welcomed new executive chef Raj Dixit in October, along with a new menu. Having worked under chef Craig Shelton at the Ryland Inn in New Jersey, Raj says the knowledge and experience gained from this has been immeasurable to his current success. Raj also brings his experience from New York’s fine dining scene at New Bouley Restaurant and was more recently the executive chef at The Inn at Dos Brisas in Washington, Texas. While studying at The Culinary Institute of America, Raj traveled the world, from France to Japan, gaining skills and global influences along the way. Raj has always lived by the ideal that less is more, and has learned to be true to ingredients and locations. Of his new tasting menu at the St. Regis, he promises, “Every dish will have a story.” (949-234-3318; —B.T.


dine list


BJ’s Pizza and Grill
280 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-3802;

The Deck on Laguna Beach
627 Sleepy Hollow Ln.; 949-494-670;

328 Glenneyre St.; 949-715-8234;

The Cliff Restaurant
577 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-1956;

The Cottage Restaurant
308 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-3023;

Hennessey’s Tavern

213 Ocean Ave.; 949-494-2743



384 Forest Ave.; 949-715-3900;

Ruby’s Diner
30622 Coast Hwy.; 949-497-7829;

Splashes Restaurant and Bar 

1555 S. Coast Hwy. at Surf & Sand Resort;

Stonehill tavern
One Monarch Beach Resort;


Tommy Bahama Bar & Grill 

400 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-376-6886;

Tivoli Terrace
650 Laguna Canyon Rd.; 949-494-9650;
Tivoli Too!
650 Laguna Canyon Rd.; 949-494-6044;



Brussels Bistro
222 Forest Ave.; 949-376-7955;


California Contemporary

230 Forest Avenue
230 Forest Ave.; 949-494-2545;

Café Anastasia
460 Ocean Ave.; 949-497-8903

Blue Laguna
696 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-376-2583;

Cafe Zoolu
860 Glenneyre St.; 949-494-6825;

K’ya Bistro Bar & The Rooftop Lounge
1287 S. Coast Hwy. at Hotel La Casa del Camino; 949-376-9718;;

The Loft
30801 S. Coast Hwy.
at Montage Laguna Beach; 949-715-6420;

Madison Square & Garden Cafe 

320 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-0137;

Mosaic Bar and Grille at 

Montage Laguna Beach
30801 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-6420;

Nirvana Grille
303-101 Broadway; 949-497-0027;

Sundried Tomato
361 Forest Ave.; 949-494-3312;

Tabu Grill 

2892 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-7743;

The Terrace

425 S. Coast Hwy. at the Hotel Laguna;

The White House Restaurant & Nightclub

340 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-8088;

Watermarc Restaurant

448 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-376-6272;



Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen 

31732 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-499-6311;



Mandarin King 

1223 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-8992



Dizz’s As Is 

2794 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-5250;



C’est La Vie 

373 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-5100;

French 75 

1464 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-8444;

Studio at Montage Laguna Beach 

30801 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-6420;


Global Cuisine


1 Ritz-Carlton Dr.; 949-240-2000;

Sapphire Laguna Restaurant & Pantry 

1200 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-9888;


Italian & Pizza

Cucina Alessa

234 Forest Ave.; 949-497-8222

Gina’s Pizza 

610 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-4421;
1100 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-4342;

Pizza Lounge

397 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-2277;

Polina’s Salerno Italian Restaurant
220 Beach St.; 949-497-2600

Ristorante Rumari  

1826 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-0400;

Romeo Cucina  

249 Broadway; 949-497-6627;

Ti Amo Ristorante 

31727 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-499-5350;

Z Pizza  

30902 Coast Hwy.; 949-499-4949;

GG’s Café-Bistro 

540-108 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-9306;

Zeytoon Cafe 

412 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-9230;




480 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-5533;

Avila’s El Ranchito 

1305 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-376-7040;

Coyote Grill 

31621 Coast Hwy.; 949-499-4033;

Laguna Feast 

801 Glenneyre St.; 949-494-0642

La Sirena Grill

347 Mermaid St.; 949-497-8226;
30862 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-499-2301;


Las Brisas 

361 Cliff Dr.; 949-497-5434;


1100 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-4148;

papa’s Taco 

31622 Coast Hwy.; 949-499-9822;

Taco Loco 

640-1B S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-1635;



The Beach House 

619 Sleepy Hollow Lane; 949-494-9707;

Claes ovation

425 S. Coast Hwy. at Hotel Laguna;

House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer 

540-200 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-4500;






One Ritz-Carlton Dr., Dana Point; 949-240-2000;

maro wood grill

1915 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-793-4044;

Mozambique Steakhouse  

1740 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-7100;

Rock’n Fish

422 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-3113;


30832 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-9200;



Laguna Culinary Arts 

845 Laguna Canyon Rd.; 949-494-4006;



242 Café Fusion Sushi 

242 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-2444;


858 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-793-4030;

O fine japanese cuisine

30872 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-5551;

San Shi Go 

1100-303 S. Coast Hwy. (upper level);



Laguna Thai by the Sea 

31715 Coast Hwy.; 949-415-0924;

Royal Thai Cuisine 

1750 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-8424;

Thai Bros.

238 Laguna Ave.; 949-376-9979;



Zinc Cafe 

350 Ocean Ave.; 949-494-6302; LBM

Share this:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here