Bearing the initials of the Big Apple, NYC Cafe & Catering keeps Southern California bellies full with its expansive spread of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. The family-oriented establishment makes everything from scratch, from its marinara sauce to bread baked fresh every morning. Visitors bask in this freshness while feasting on specialty pastas, sandwiches, or pizzas, including a special New York pie loaded with pepperoni, sausage, and double cheese. They also offer a variety specialty gyros, where meat and pita come together in an effort to learn how to love again. Conveniently, the cafe caters to Orange County, meaning patrons don't have to stuff their cheeks with lasagna if they want to enjoy their meal at an alternate location.
At Romeo Cucina, the chef prepares fresh pastas daily, from gnocchi to stuffed ravioli and tortellini, alongside a menu of pizzas and other Italian specialties such as veal scaloppini and linguine with fresh clams and mussels. Both eateries also share a similar inviting d?cor, with white linen-covered tables along with Italian-inspired art on warm yellow or exposed brick walls.
At Bistro K, traditional Italian recipes merge with eclectic New World flavors for a menu that's reflective of the international history of the family behind it. That story starts back in Italy with the four Bagatta brothers, all chefs who later traveled on to France, South Africa, and Southern California. It was during these wanderings that Tony Bagatta met Massimiliana, the woman who would become his wife. Today, Massimiliana and her daughter Katia run Bistro K as a mother-daughter team, serving up hearty plates from traditional Italian gnocchi to gourmet burgers smothered in gruyère.
Mario's By The Sea serves a menu of Italian specialties including more than 20 pasta options and a long list of entrees starring chicken, veal, seafood, and veggies. A combination of chilled melon cloaked in imported Italian prosciutto ($10) and a hot, crispy calamaretti fritti ($13) combines cool and warm fronts to prepare stomachs for a pasta downpour. The veal tortellini champagne pasta ($14–$19) employs a bubbly infused cream sauce to help diners celebrate recent purchases of full-sized yachts constructed carefully in bottles.
Nearly every night of the week, Brio Tuscany Grille buzzes with live entertainment and special events. Of course, the food adds to the overall experience, too. Since 1993, the restaurant has treated its guests to award-winning Italian cuisine all week long, even until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Ocean breezes surround diners as they sit down to wood-fired pizzas and nearly a dozen different pasta and risotti options. Oftentimes, though, it's Brio Tuscany's signature crab and lobster bisque that steals the show. It features Maryland crab and local Pacific lobster simmered with fresh herbs, spices, and a splash of sherry wine. On weekdays, visitors can also pop in for a light lunch before returning to the office or their job making sure clouds stay in the sky.