Dining Out

The term “fast-casual” was apparently coined by Paul Barron in the late 1990’s. The creator of FastCasual.com, Mr. Barron’s claim to the phrase has been disputed, but the terminology certainly stuck. Restaurants have popped up all over the nation in the last twenty years that set claim to the phrase, and serve up a similar experience: moderately priced meals, self-service or limited service format, and made-to-order food with more flavors than your neighborhood McDonald’s or Taco Bell. With 33 stores in Colorado (and 3 under construction), six stores in Phoenix, three in Dallas/Ft. Worth and now three in California (Laguna…
312 Chicago136 N. La Salle Street Old World charm and authentic Italian cuisine is at its finest in the heart of the Chicago Loop. Located adjacent to the Cadillac Palace Theatre inside the Hotel Allegro, 312 Chicago is presided over by executive chef and Italian native Luca Corazzina. Taste your way through plates of silken Burrata cheese, pappardella bolognese, and Mediterranean branzino (a skin-on sea bass with yellow pepper puree, crab meat, green onions, radishes, fresno peppers, lime juice, olive oil and micro cilantro) so fresh you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to Italy for dinner. Eleven City Diner…
Starting a new tradition at Ricardo’s Place in San Juan Capistrano When Ricardo’s Place invited us to learn how to make tamales, we couldn’t say no! While we didn’t learn the exact secret to their famous family recipe, we did see how to put it together. Ricardo recommends using any of your favorite tamale recipes, and told us you can really make a tamale out of anything. He recommends using onions, garlic, cumin, black pepper, salt, and chicken. After combining those ingredients, pack them into pre-soften husks, with your choice of filling or in our case, corn mush and the…
Germano’s300 South High Street (at Fawn St.)(410) 752-4515 A few years ago, a friend of mine mentioned that she’d stayed in something called an “affittacamere” when she and her husband were travelling through Italy. Living like locals, Airbnb style, except that the apartments were actually owned by locals, and there was no way to find them on Airbnb. Having an authentic Italian experience outside of the hustle of Rome is difficult to find, but Germano’s Piattini is one of those places. Created as a “terzo”, or a home away from home and work, the restaurant’s signature dishes - like Polpette…
Here in South Orange County, we’re pretty blessed to live so close to the coast and have an abundance of wonderful dining destinations to choose from. But for inventive cuisine and exemplary service in the spirit of much-loved classic American steakhouses and taverns, there are precious few establishments that rival Selanne Steak Tavern. Situated along Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, the restaurant is housed in a historic 1934 two-story country cottage complete with a faux water well and bucket pouring water, red brick walkways and wooden shingled roof tiles. Step through the hand-carved wooden door into the main entry…
Serving up some of the best Italian dishes this side of Venice If you’re in the mood for delicious, authentic Italian fare served in a romantic atmosphere where the owners and staff make guests feel as welcome as a member of the family, experience Casanova Ristorante. Literally everything I’ve tried on the menu here has been nothing short of superb. The service is excellent – attentive and unobtrusive – the ambiance is warm and friendly and its popular cocktail lounge featuring an extensive, specially selected wine list (and full bar) has a loyal following among locals and visitors alike. Start…
Paying homage to an icon, this reinvented Newport Beach restaurant offers a new generation of connoisseurs a world-class culinary experience In the months since the new Ritz Prime Seafood opened its doors to a new generation of culinary enthusiasts, much has been written about how this reinvented restaurant stacks up against the iconic Newport Beach establishment from which it draws inspiration (founded by Hans Prager in 1977, The Ritz enjoyed a 30+ year run as the go-to special event venue before closing its doors in early 2014). Where the throwback dining institution was characterized by Old World charm and three-martini…
RAYA and 180blu offer inventive dishes, hand-crafted cocktails and unparalleled, awe-inspiring views Here in South Orange County, we’re pretty lucky to live so close to the coast and have an abundance of wonderful dining destinations to choose from. But for inventive cuisine coupled with awe-inspiring ocean views, there are few establishments that rival RAYA and 180blu. Both reside in The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel - RAYA boasts a bright, open space with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Pacific while the aptly named 180blu is an outdoor lounge/deck situated 150 feet above Salt Creek Beach, defined by the same breathtaking 180 degrees of…
Delicious dishes, an extensive - and impressive - wine selection and impeccable service defines this signature restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel The menu at this intimate, contemporary steakhouse highlights “sustainability-focused cuisine” - each grilled-to-perfection, mouthwatering steak comes from prime grass-fed, pasture-raised beef with no growth hormones or antibiotics. The organic produce used to create the inventive salads (think asparagus Ibérico salad with a poached egg and caviar crème fraîche) and side dishes (including the sauteed wild mushrooms and petite peas) is grown locally and harvested at the peak of the season, allowing for maximum flavor. Everything is sourced from…
South County locals looking for the ideal destination for fine wine, delicious cuisine and live entertainment need look no further than Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar in San Juan Capistrano. Located at 27211 Ortega Highway, Tannins is characterized by a blend of Old World charm and rustic décor artfully enhanced with a modern flair – from its strong focus on wine and food pairings to its expansive menu of Northern and Mediterranean and Southern Italian cuisine along with delectable desserts and specials prepared fresh daily. I personally love Tannins for a few reasons; the food is exquisite, the service always…
Exceptional cuisine, live entertainment and unobtrusive service define this popular Dana Point restaurant Thanks to Brio Tuscany Grille, I recently indulged in an evening filled with impeccable service, amazing Italian food and live music. If you haven’t had a chance to try this restaurant out, it will undeniably exceed your expectations. From the moment I walked in I knew I was going to have an enjoyable experience. I didn’t have a reservation, but they graciously sat our party right away. The lighting was turned down and the live music was just starting, adding to the overall ambiance. The music to…

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