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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lunch at Alessa

One of the top-rated Italian restaurants in Orange County has come to Laguna Beach; Alessa! It has long been the dream of owner/chef Alessandro Pirozzi to bring Alessa to Laguna Beach and just over three months ago his dream became a reality.

In the heart of downtown, Alessa is located on Forest Avenue between Glenneyre and PCH (Pacific Coast Highway.) Patio seating directly off the sidewalk leads to an atmosphere that was elegant, yet relaxed. Sleek black tables, simple place settings and a splash of color from Gerber daisies gave the restaurant a European flare. With a collage of black framed photos of the Pirozzi family adorning the brick wall that led to the bar, which flanked the open-style kitchen, you felt as if you were sitting at the home of Chef Alessandro.

I started out with an Alessa fan favorite, Zucca.

Zucca: Homemade organic butternut squash ricotta ravioli, brown butter sage sauce.

This sweet ravioli appetizer literally melted in my mouth. The ricotta-filled ravioli was creamy and I especially loved having the crispy sage leaves to pair with each bite. I can see why so many patrons rave about this ‘Per Iniziare’ (appetizer)…it is perfection.

Burrata: Heirloom tomato carpaccio, arugula, Castelvetrano olives, fresh burrata.

If the Zucca, the Per Iniziare (appetizer) was perfection, the Burrata,  the Dal Giaradino (salad) was equivalent! Fresh arugula paired with imported Italian Castelvetrano olives and imported Italian burrata mixed to create a fresh and crunchy salad with just the right kick from the arugula. And I loved that it was plated so beautifully.

Tortelli Di Carne: Braised short ribs giant Tortelloni, walnut porcini cream sauce. 
Going off the recommendation of my waiter, I ordered the Tortelli Di Carne. Upon first look I was not sold on the dish, but the first bite changed my mind immediately. The pasta was well-stuffed with tender meat and topped with a cream sauce that brought out mushroom and walnut flavorings. (Alessa offers gluten-free pasta options for many of their dishes.)

No Italian meal is complete without dessert and an espresso. I topped my meal off with the traditional, and my favorite, Italian dessert, Tiramisu. Being a dessert lover, I inhaled my martini-Tiramisu faster than you can say, “Arrivederci.” It is one of the best I have had in a long time.

It’s easy to see why Alessa is loved by so many in Orange County. With all of the pastas being made in-house and many of the cheeses and olives imported directly from Italy, I can see why the food tasted so fantastic and authentic. The ambience was charming and the wait staff very helpful (I especially liked being called “Bella.”) And I can’t wait to go back to try samplings from their one-of-a-kind Prosciutto & Mozzarella Bar. We are so glad that Alessandro has brought Alessa to Laguna Beach!

234 Forest Avenue
Open Daily for lunch and dinner (breakfast coming soon)

By: Anne-Marie S.

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