Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More to chew on in Irvine...

A little bit of San Diego is migrating North in the not-too-distant future, as we await the opening of CUCINA Enoteca. Featured at last week's Restaurant Rave, they ended the evening with a cooking demo by Chef Joe Magnanelli. I sampled some light bites with Carmelle, catering manager and social media director. Their ricotta gnudi ("the best vegetarian meatball", per Carmelle) was divine in its sage brown butter sauce, dusted with parmigiano and amaretti. I also took a shine to the housemade rosemary ricotta bruschetta. Decorated with fresh fig, pistachio dust and fine saba drizzle, I would eat fruit all the time if it tasted this savory.

They will be occupying a quarter of the 25,000 square feet previously inhabited by Fox Sports Grill. Features include an extensive patio, polenta bar (yes, you read that right), wine shop, and house-made grappa. While a specific date is unconfirmed, it's safe to say they will be serving famished holiday shoppers.

Spotted: Signage in Quail Hill (405/Sand Canyon) adjacent to CVS. Big bowls of broth to ease neighbors during the transition from hot to not-so-hot, or as the rest of the country refers to it, Autumn and Winter. This neighborhood center is becoming quite the multicultural food court in recent years. Lucca is still king, but we've seen movement by Turkish brand Wraps Xpress as well as O Fine Japanese Cuisine. Bacchus Secret Cellar has even brought cozy wine flights to these parts. A shiny new place to garnish and slurp, away from the bustling UCI crowd; just don't tell anyone from IVC.

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