Inside Fratello's Italian Family Restaurant & Sports Lounge, large picture windows display views of green grass and leafy trees, filling the dark-wood-trimmed dining room with natural light. Sunbeams spill over plates crowned with hearty fare such as grilled New Zealand lamb chops in chianti wine sauce and rib-eye marsala. Chefs also stuff their signature gnocchi Fratello with asiago cheese and sautée fresh clams in garlic and wine sauce. In an attached sports lounge, four 52-inch flat screen televisions broadcast the outcomes of sports games, which fans can celebrate with heartfelt acoustic covers of their team’s fight song during karaoke nights.
Walk roughly five minutes west of the beaches of Capistrano Bight and you’ll find Surfside Pizza. There, charmed by the not-too-distant sound of the waves, chefs spend their days pounding out dough for a hearty assortment of hand-tossed pizzas. Most of it goes toward making the eatery’s 30-inch pie—aptly named “The Big One”—that can be topped with everything from simple cheese to specialty ingredients such as barbecue chicken or homemade meatballs and mushrooms. In addition to pies, the chefs also craft scratch-made favorites including sub sandwiches, calzones, and cinnamon-sugar donuts drizzled with chocolate from Willy Wonka’s infinity pool.
Crushed tomatoes and a special blend of spices underpin the secret sauce that gets slathered on every pie at Stuft Pizza. The dough is made by hand from unbleached wheat flour, then strewn with quality meats and cheeses. The chefs have been at this since 1976, and to this day they're still busy churning out pizzas along with wings and lasagna. To wash it all down, customers can sip private-label ales brewed by Firestone Walker.
When the chefs at Italian Cravings Irvine created their menu of Italian favorites, they decided not to be too fastidious with their recipes. So in addition to their traditional Italian recipes, they also created fusion dishes using the flavors and ingredients of other cuisines. Plates of tender veal in a marsala wine sauce sit next to the chicken tequila—a bed of fettuccine topped with chicken, bell peppers, and cilantro, all drizzled in a tequila lime sauce. Alongside the Italian entrees, chef also toss pizzas with traditional and unusual ingredients, from pepperoni to barbecue chicken. They pair all of this with tall glasses of beer or wine, which help ensure that meals are long, jovial affairs—like marathons emceed by a standup comic.