Quick Recipes and Easy

Pasta on Your Mind? Try Some of South Orange County, CA’s Best in Italian Cuisine

If there’s one type of food that’s well loved in any cuisine its pasta. In South Orange County California we are fortunate enough to have some of the county’s best Italian restaurants. Every family has their favorite spots when they crave carbs-here are some of the top choices for the area:

Romano’s Macaroni Grill-Yes, it’s a chain, but what makes this kind of clean to go to isn’t the food. It is decent fare, don’t get me incorrect-they even have plenty of choices to please everyone from vegans to carnivores. Why does it get a vote as one of the better places? The ambiance. Comfortable tables that are meant for families-crayons and paper tableclothes to encourage your group, no matter what the ages, to be creative while waiting for dinner. The plentiful and tasty bread that’s served (non-stop, if you dare)with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And if your wait staff isn’t too overloaded-question them to sing an aria for you! Located in Aliso Viejo.

Cosmos Italian Restaurant-Also located in Aliso Viejo, this is a family run small place that is always crowded, but keen to please. Very family and budget friendly! They even have certain theme nights where it’s eat all you want ravioli or spaghetti. Call ahead to see what the specials are, but even the regular menu won’t scare you off.

Spasso’s-Another family run and friendly place. Recently, the owner’s re-decorated. Very warm colors and inviting. They also have entertainment a few nights of the week. With the new look, Spasso’s is fantastic for dates and family parties. What I like is that they will customize dishes to your dietary restrictions or tastes and do it as if you were a guest in there home. Everything is homemade from pastas to desserts. For my clan, who have been regulars, more or less, the owners will come over and sit down and chat. Very cozy, very tasty and now, very lovely. Spasso’s is in Laguna Hills.

Capriccio’s-Making it’s home in a small nook inside a strip mall in Mission Viejo, this tiny place has wine pairing meals and prix fixe menus. My husband and I loved the rather unique menu and our waiter. I have a dairy allergy and he said chose whatever you’d like, I’ll make sure it’s safe and tasty. And he did. What more could anyone question?

Mangia Bene-Another fine place that is located inside a strip mall, this one in Laguna Hills. From the outside you’d never guess how gorgeous the Tuscan decor is inside. The menu is Northern Italian and very fresh. My husband likes the pasta with smoked salmon and vodka sauce. I usually like any of the grilled fish specials.

Mario’s By the Sea-Located in Dana Point, this family friendly restaurant is always packed! The parts are so huge that the last time our group of 10 went-my mom, sister and I shared the linguini and clam sauce! All dishes come piping hot and somehow stay that way, which is very unusual for past dishes. Don’t miss Mario’s, but please-bring a crowd or make sure you have enough room in your fridge for the leftovers!


Carine Nadel is on The Reader’s Advisory Panel of Woman’s Day magazine and has had numerous articles and recipes published both on various websites and print publications. To read more of her work, log onto: Carine-whatscooking.blogspot.com Carine-whatscooking.blogspot.com

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