After spending 38 years cooking for her husband and seven children in New York, Mama D decided to move to California. She packed her grandmother's recipes, arrived on the West Coast, and opened a traditional Italian eatery. Nowadays, Mama D, Papa D, and their children take turns supervising the eatery's kitchen, where chefs roll signature homemade raviolis and fill them with chicken, sautéed spinach, or lobster and crab. Using dough made with filtered water, they knead Mama D's Neapolitan pizzas and top them with homemade sauce and freshly grated parmesan. Most of the restaurant's dishes are named after their inventors. Names such as Julianna's homemade meatball, Gary's veal parmigiana, Jr.'s chicken limone, and Cheryl's steamed clams contribute to Mama D's family atmosphere and make it easier for Julianna, Gary, and Cheryl to remember their favorite dishes.
The door to Mama D's rests beneath a green awning and opens to a casual eatery with tables veiled in red-and-white checkered tablecloths. Passing through the interior, diners arrive at an outdoor seating area decked out with a fireplace and sun umbrellas.
Though it has no legal bearing in the U.S., the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 is gospel at Newport Beach Brewing Company. It stipulates that only three ingredients should be found in beer: barley, hops, and water. Brewer Derek Bougie sticks to this 16th century decree when creating all of Newport Beach's beers, which include hefeweizens, pale ales, and the comically named Evil Monkey and Village Idiot. And the Bavarian approach pays off: Derek's beers have earned the brewery two bronze medals, two silver medals, and one gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
While Derek sticks to tradition, Newport Beach's head chef, Gabriel Beltran, prefers putting an contemporary spin on classic bar food. Made entirely in-house, his cuisine ranges from bourbon stout salmon, 1/2 lb. Harris ranch raised burgers, and fish and chips to brick-fired, garlic-crusted pizza topped with macaroni and cheese. His innovation even extends to desserts such as calzone filled with white and dark chocolate. Beer-fueled feasts unfold in front of Newport's HD televisions and 101-inch flat-screens, which stay tuned to the latest sports and weather reports from neighboring planets. Patrons may also visit the beer garden and patio located near the beach and the bay on Balboa Peninsula.
Original Pizza II dishes out a menu of pizza, cocktails, and other bar fare in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. The pizza parlor invites patrons to engineer their own pies ($10–$21 with up to four regular toppings) topped with tidbits such as anchovies, jalapeños, canadian bacon, and pineapple. A crew of crust-conjurers also fires specialty pizzas such as the Balboa, a white pizza with grilled chicken, fresh tomatoes, and seasonings ($15.50–$24) and the Meat Lovers ($11.50–$19.50), which comes with an official membership badge to the Loyal Order of Protein. Beer, cocktails, and a bloody-mary bar usher succulent chicken wings ($6.95 for six pieces) and zesty greek salad ($7.50) into waiting bellies. Flattened spheres of dough and cheese or a selection from the restaurant's array of fried appetizers and salads can come accompanied by a beer, cocktail, or a bloody mary from the full bar.
To Master Chef Massimo Navarretta—who grew up farming and wine-making in Campania, Italy—it makes little sense to separate wine from food. At his eatery Onotria, which received Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence in 2011 and 2012, he groups dishes on the menu by wine pairing, rather than by main ingredient or ability to be balanced on the tip of a tiny dessert spoon. Seafood-based plates, such as prosciutto-wrapped tiger shrimp or poached octopus with artichokes, complement a glass of dry, sparkling white wine. Lightly breaded pork medallions accompany a light, dry red, while hearty lamb chops or filet go with a bolder varietal such as zinfandel or merlot. These dishes can serve as tasting plates for groups, entrees for individuals, or finger food for visiting giants.
To create the seasonal menu, the kitchen uses hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, as well as organic and biodynamic ingredients. Meals are served under a high-peaked ceiling with wooden rafters, in a dining room with exposed-brick columns and mottled walls that echo the look of an old-country trattoria.