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Orange County, CA Restaurant News

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After decades of languishing in the shadows of Los Angeles, the Orange County food scene has as of late been able to craft a strong identity all its own. Find out GAYOT's picks for the 10 Must-Visit Restaurants in Orange County.

RESTAURANT NEWS


Openings

Cucina Enoteca has rolled out a second Orange County location Cucina Enoteca has rolled out a second Orange County location, in Newport Beach’s famed shopping center Fashion Island. Like the original OC space, the new space features an array of rustic Italian cuisine and an extensive list of wines that may be purchased at retail prices. Cucina Enoteca, Fashion Island, 401 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-706-1416.
 
Din Tai Fung, the Los Angeles-area restaurant that has built a cult following around its Shanghai-style soup dumplings, has opened in an 8,000-square-foot space in South Coast Plaza. Din Tai Fung, South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714-549-3388.
 
The contemporary Chinese restaurant Twenty Eight will be opening its doors in the heart of Irvine’s original business district in Fall 2014. The restaurant is the brainchild of executive chef and partner Shirley Chung, whose pedigree includes an appearance on Top Chef and a successful stint as executive chef at China Poblano by Jose Andres. Chung promises to bring regional Chinese dishes to the venue, made with local seasonal ingredients and progressive flavors. Twenty Eight, 19530 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92612, no phone.
 
The people that were behind the departed Downtown Santa Ana restaurant The Crosby have reemerged with The North Left, a contemporary dining spot located in The Crosby’s old digs. The restaurant is serving small plates of contemporary food inspired by the flavors of the Pacific Northwest, but made from fresh and local ingredients. The venue is also offering a rotation of craft beers on tap, as well as barrel-aged cocktails. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner Mon.-Sat. The North Left, 400 N Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714-543-3543.
 
A&O Kitchen + Bar Opens at the Balboa Bay Resort The Balboa Bay Resort has jumped into the world of the gastropub with the opening of A&O Kitchen + Bar. The restaurant, which is housed in a completely renovated space, where Duke's Place once resided, opened in June and features casual yet innovative contemporary fare, as overseen by the resort's executive chef, Vincent Lesage. Menu items range from pork belly sliders and a sausage flight to beer-marinated fried chicken and orchiette pasta. Lunch & Dinner daily. A&O Kitchen + Bar, Balboa Bay Resort, 1221 West Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, CA 92663, 949-630-4285.
 
Costa Mesa’s Triangle Square shopping complex is the home of the Mexican culinary concept La Vida Cantina. The restaurant is housed in the former location of El Corazon de Costa Mesa. Guests can sit on the venue’s massive outdoor patio and enjoy margaritas and other specialty cocktails, or indulge in modern Mexican dishes made with organic ingredients, such as lobster enchiladas served with a poblano cilantro tomatillo sauce. For more information, visit www.lavidacantina.com. La Vida Cantina, Traingle Square, 1870 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92627, 949-612-2349.
 
Break of Dawn, the popular breakfast and lunch venue located in Lake Forest, has reopened after a three-and-a-half-month closure. The restaurant has changed addresses, but has only moved into a different, expanded spot in the same shopping center that it previously called home. Executive chef/owner Dee Nguyen fills the larger venue with a host of Asian fusion-inspired dishes, like the pork belly and tempura fried egg, and Hawaiian sausage with green papaya and rice. For more information, visit www.breakofdawnrestaurant.com. Break of Dawn, Laguna Hills Mall, 24291 Avenida De La Carlota, Ste. P4, Laguna Hills, CA 92653, 949-587-9418.
 
Island Hotel Newport Beach has opened its new culinary concept Oak Grill. Executive chef Marc Johnson brings his interpretation of contemporary cuisine to the sleek, completely redesigned dining space, creating dishes that highlight refined techniques and strong relationships with top purveyors. Also debuting is the adjacent Aqua Lounge, a bar concept featuring outdoor seating, craft cocktails, an extensive wine list and small bites. For more information, visit www.oakandaqua.com. Oak Grill, Island Hotel Newport Beach, 690 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-759-0808.
 
Celebrated Orange County chef and restaurateur Alessandro Pirozzi has opened Pirozzi Corona Del Mar.  The Italian eatery, which is located in the heart of the iconoclastic subsection of Newport Beach, will be serving up hand-made pasta and pizzas baked in a 900-degree, wood-burning oven. The restaurant will also feature a prosciutto and mozzarella bar and homemade gelato. Lunch & Dinner daily. Pirozzi Corona Del Mar, 2929 East Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, CA 92625, 949-675-2932.
 

Find more recent openings with our list of the
Top 10 New & Notable Restaurants
and round-up of all the NEW Restaurants in Orange County


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MEATY MATTERS
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Beef Cuts: A Primer for Steak

News Bytes

Roast chicken and frites from the Frites Grill menu at Mimi’s Cafe Frites Grill Menu at Mimi's Cafe
Chef Katie Sutton, the head of the culinary team at Mimi’s Cafe restaurants, spent two months in France perfecting her version of the French frite that’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The results can now be found on the Frites Grill menu, offering steak frites, grilled salmon & frites, grilled chicken & frites, mussels & frites, and roasted chicken & frites. For more information and locations, visit www.mimiscafe.com
 
Andrea at The Resort at Pelican Hill offers a two-course express menu at lunch Two-Course Lunch Express Menu at Andrea
Andrea, the flagship restaurant of The Resort at Pelican Hill, offers a two-course menu espresso (express menu) at lunch served in 45 minutes or less Wednesday through Sunday. Diners select one appetizer, soup or salad to begin, followed by one hand-made pasta dish or lunch entrée. The meal concludes with coffee service. The cost is $45 per person, plus tax and gratuity Andrea, The Resort at Pelican Hill, 22701 Pelican Hill Rd. S., Newport Coast, CA 92657, 949-467-6800.
 
French Pop-Up at Little Sparrow
Little Sparrow is hosting their own pop-up restaurant concept within the confines of its downtown Santa Ana restaurant. The pop-up concept will be based exclusively on French cuisine, as created by the restaurant’s executive chef Eric Samaniego. Select menu items will include skate grenobloise, moules frites, coq au vin and steak au poivre. For more information, visit www.littlesparrowcafe.com. Little Sparrow, 300 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714-265-7640.
 
Bistango Gardens Menu Debuts
Bistango, the sleek contemporary restaurant situated in the heart of Irvine’s classic business district, has created a special Bistango Gardens menu; a mélange of modern bites, craft beers, and carefully chosen wine selections designed to capture the metropolitan essence of the surrounding area. Guests can lounge in relaxing, earth-toned furniture and indulge in light modern fare such as hummus with kalamata olive, feta cheese and olive oil; Peruvian ceviche served with red onion, cilantro, and lime juice; and lamb sliders with goat cheese, arugula, and brandied balsamic cherries. For more information, please visit www.bistango.com. Bistango, The Atrium Building, 19100 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, CA 92612, 949-752-5222.
 


Chef Shuffle

Roy Hendrickson has left his post as executive chef at Zimzala, the flagship restaurant at the Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach. Hendrickson has migrated south to San Diego, where he oversees the kitchen at Vessel Restaurant, the flagship eatery at the Kona Kai Resort & Marina. The replacement for Hendrickson has not been officially announced. Zimzala, Shorebreak Hotel, 500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, CA 92648, 714-861-4470.
 
Bruno Massuger has been appointed executive chef at Back Bay Bistro, the flagship restaurant at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort. Massuger comes to the Newport Beach eatery armed with several years of experience culled in similar resort-type venues. In addition to overseeing the restaurant, he will also be managing the sprawling resort’s catering operation. Back Bay Bistro, Newport Dunes Resort, 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-729-1144.
 
Cody Storts is no longer the executive chef at HopScotch. The popular chef parted ways with the downtown Fullerton restaurant in late July. Storts has resurfaced at Nieuport 17, where he is working with executive chef Greg Moro, while the Tustin venue goes through a renovation process. HopScotch, 136 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, CA 92832, 714-871-2222.
 

 

Closings

CLOSED FOR GOOD
Take your taste buds on a walk down memory lane! Check out our exclusive closed restaurant database for Orange County to virtually visit your favorite dining spots from yesteryear. Aqua, R.I.P.

Landmark in Corona Del Mar has closed its doors. The restaurant, which was known for its steaks and its late-night scene, held its final day of operation May 10. Plans for a new restaurant to occupy the now-vacant space have been announced, although the actual dining concept is still under wraps. Landmark, 3520 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, CA 92625, no phone.
 

CULINARY EVENTS
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learn to cook? Try new dishes? Meet a foodie friend for fun? Check out our compilation of culinary events in your area.


View our calendar of Wine Dinners & Tastings in Orange County

Discover the top restaurants for various cuisines and categories like sushi, steakhouses, pizza, happy hours, and romantic dining. Find the best restaurants in Orange County here!

Discover the best restaurants in Orange County, CA

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RESTAURANT AWARDS 2014

Check out the 2014 edition of GAYOT's Annual Restaurant Issue, which features the Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S., Rising Chefs and more.

SUSTAINABLE SEAFOODThere's a lot of fish in the sea, but not all should end up on your plate! Learn which kinds of seafood were caught using sustainable practices.