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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.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Laguna Beach Uncorked! An International Wine & Food Fest, Saturday, March 10, Highlights the Four-Day Celebration of Laguna Beach a la Carte

Laguna Beach Uncorked! An International Wine & Food Fest, takes place on Saturday, March 10, from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on the Festival of Arts grounds. 
VIP admission begins at 10:00 a.m. Event attendees will experience tastes from 25 wineries from around the world, a local brewery, sake producers and 24 Laguna Beach restaurants. A portion of the proceeds benefits CHOC Children’s Hospital.

“We are thrilled with the caliber of food and wine offerings planned for this event,” said Karyn Philippsen, event Committee Chairman for the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau.

General admission: $75 pre-sale (by 3/9/12); $95 at door, day of event (3/10/12); VIP: $125 (limited to 150 tickets); includes a 10am wine seminar with Master Sommelier, Peter Neptune, and an early 12 noon entrance to the Laguna Beach Uncorked tasting event. VIP Event sponsored by Rohl. Both tickets include a commemorative wine glass and access to all restaurant and winery tastings. VIP ticketholders will receive a Laguna Beach tote bag.

Complimentary parking will be available for general admission ticketholders at Act V parking lot, located at 1900 Laguna Canyon Road (based on availability), with free shuttle service from 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. between Act V and Festival of Arts only. Complimentary VIP parking will be available in the Laguna Beach Uncorked lot just west of Art-A-Fair (based on availability).

 or call (800) 595-4849 (4TIX). Call Center operators are available 24 hours per day/7 days per week. Please note: The Call Center can only be used to purchase tickets. Event questions or inquiries, call the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau at (949) 497-9229.

2012 Official Sponsors include: HÔM Sotheby’s International Realty, Union Bank, Verterra, Laguna Beach Independent, Laguna Beach Magazine, Waste Management, Fiji Water, Rohl, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and Dining Out.

“Union Bank is proud to sponsor an event supporting such a worthwhile cause as CHOC Children’s Hospital. Laguna Beach Uncorked! promises to be an exciting event showcasing the diversity of Laguna Beach restaurants,” said Ann Roth, Branch Manager/Vice President of the Laguna Beach Branch for Union Bank.

Waste Management of Orange County, another event sponsor, will bring their Zero Waste component to the event. “Waste Management is thrilled to be an environmental partner of Laguna Beach a la Carte and excited to keep the signature event, Laguna Beach Uncorked, in line with Laguna Beach’s green initiatives and provide a solution that lightens their environmental footprint,” said Michelle Clark, community relations manager for Waste Management of Orange County and the environmental committee chair on the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. This Zero Waste goal calls for food waste recycling, in addition to traditional recycling of paper, plastic and glass. Food waste will be collected, processed and turned into a sustainable product. Let’s toast to an exciting and green event!”

Laguna Beach Uncorked! An International Wine & Food Fest is part of Laguna Beach a la Carte – A Food & Wine Experience, a four-day celebration of food and wine taking place in Laguna Beach, March 8-11, 2012. Attendees will enjoy special offers from various restaurants, prix fixe menus, daily events, chef demonstrations and more. Click here to download a Laguna Beach a la Carte brochure with all of the happenings over the four-day period.

All event attendees must be at least 21 years of age. ID will be checked at the door.

For more information, visit

Special hotel rates are available for Laguna Beach a la Carte attendees at the following lodging properties:

Aliso Creek Inn
(949) 499-2271

Attend Laguna Beach a la Carte and receive a 20% rate discount. Valid 3/8-3/11/12.

Casa Laguna Inn and Spa
(949) 494-2996

Laguna Beach a la Carte attendees will receive 20% off any room type. This offer is good on new reservations only and cannot be retroactive to existing reservations. Valid 3/8-3/11/12.

Hotel Laguna
(949) 494-1151

For the true Laguna Beach experience, stay at the newly renovated historic Hotel Laguna. Mention Laguna Beach a la Carte for 10% off regular room rates from March 8-12, 2012, subject to availability.

Inn at Laguna Beach
(949) 497-9722

Rates starting at $149 night plus complimentary parking. Be sure to mention Laguna Beach a la Carte.

La Casa del Camino
(949) 497-2446

Book any room and receive two complimentary Mojitos and one appetizer from The Rooftop Lounge or K'ya Bistro Bar. Valid March 8-11, 2012. No cash value not valid with any other special offer.

Pacific Edge Hotel
(949) 281-5709

Pacific Edge a La Carte VIP Package: Four-night stay in a waterfront room (check-in 3/8, check-out 3/12), Free Entry into Sunday's Snack, Sip, and Surf event, Free Prix Fixe Dinner at The Deck or Beach House, Surf Cabana for 10 guests (on 3/8 or 3/9), Massage in Spa Cabana, for $1,199. Restrictions Apply. Based on availability.

A la Carte Long Weekender's Package: Three-night stay in a waterfront room (check-in 3/9, check-out 3/12), Free Entry into Sunday's Snack, Sip, and Surf event, Free Prix Fixe Dinner at The Deck or Beach House, for $799. Restrictions Apply. Based on availability.

A la Carte Package: Two-night stay in a waterfront room (check-in 3/10, check-out 3/12), Free Entry into Sunday's Snack, Sip, and Surf event or Free Prix Fixe Dinner at The Deck, Free appetizer or cocktail at The Deck, for $599. Restrictions Apply. Based on availability.

Snack, Sip, and Stay Sunday Package: One-night stay in a waterfront room (check-in 3/11, check-out 3/12), Free Entry into Sunday's Snack, Sip, and Surf event, Free Cabana on 3/12, for $350. Restrictions Apply. Based on availability.

Locals Discounts: 10% off of your stay if you live in Orange County; 10% discount on room if you purchase a ticket to Sunday's Snack, Sip, and Surf Event; 10% off regular menu with room at Pacific Edge Hotel. Restrictions Apply. Based on availability.

Surf & Sand Resort
(949) 497-4477

Stay in a Sea View Room for $425 on Thursday or Sunday; $499 Friday or Saturday. Book by mid February; based on availability. Some restrictions apply; Savings up to $50 off rack rate.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Family Affair at Gina’s Pizza and Pastaria

The smell of roasted garlic and onion fill the air. I can also detect the smell of roasted tomatoes and peppers most likely from a slow cooking marinara sauce somewhere deep within the kitchen.  It’s mixed with the sweet dough smell of fresh-from-the-oven-pizza causing my stomach to grumble with hunger. The aromas led me to imagine what an Italian grandmother’s kitchen would smell like on a Sunday afternoon as the family gathers to take part in the weekly ritual of breaking bread together…and I know that this is going to be a home style meal that I will LOVE.

Gina’s Pizza is a family-style Italian restaurant that was opened in Corona Del Mar in 1975 by Gina. She had impressed more than her family with her Sicilian cooking and decided to open up a restaurant that focused on the home spun recipes of her childhood. Now, more than 35 years later Gina’s has expanded to seven locations in Orange County, with three of them here in Laguna Beach. Their two main Laguna Beach locations have become a local favorite for casual dining and finding a GREAT slice of pizza. Their third location in town resides on the Festival of Arts grounds and is only open for business during the summer festival season in July and August.

House Special

The famous House Special Pizza still starts with the same dough recipe that Gina used in 1975. The pizza is double-baked with the dough and sauce going into the oven first. Next, the toppings are added: pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, roasted peppers (roasted fresh daily), red onions and mozzarella, resulting in a delicious pizza pie that is finger-licking good.

Gina’s Pizza is still family-owned and lead by one of Gina’s sons who keeps his mother’s memory alive at every location. You will  see family photos dressing the walls, and of course smell and taste her recipes that come to life. Even the ranch dressing is a Gina secret recipe! Rumor has it  that many locals buy this dressing by the pint because they love it so much. When you are dining at Gina’s you get a sense of family pride from the staff. In North Laguna, the locals know the delivery driver by name, (Ishmael), as he has been with Gina’s since the mid 80s. In fact much of the kitchen staff has been with Gina’s for many years. Their children’s  placemat menu features the  adorable Amelie, Gina’s 3-year old Granddaughter, who has even added a few items to the menu.  

Over the years new items have been added. One of the tasty new items featured is the Calamari Fritti, a hearty helping great for sharing or to be enjoyed as a main entrée, made with homemade spicy diavola sauce.

Many of the newest menu items are ‘tested’ at the summer festival alfresco location. Each summer you can experience new and beloved menu items and even a few specialty dishes that can’t be found at any other location.

The South Laguna Gina’s location is the pizza-by-the-slice hot spot for locals and tourists, as they are finishing up a day at the beach. You can challenge yourself to finish the mega 38-inch slice if you dare.

All in all, Gina’s Pizza is a food-centric concept, with all ingredients prepared fresh and never frozen. This  is a perfect family dining spot or casual night out with friends. Visit this Laguna favorite and prepare to have your senses tantalized and your belly filled.

610 N. Coast Hwy. (at Boat Canyon)
Happy Hour from 2pm to 6pm with food and drink specials
Wednesday’s kids eat free
Banquet room available for rent
1100 S. Cost Hwy (at Oak St.)
Happy Hour from 2pm to 6pm with food and drink specials
Wednesday’s kids eat free

Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road
Open in July and August during the summer festival season

By: Anne-Marie S.