Onotria Wine Country Cuisine (Costa Mesa)

2831 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Phone: (714) 641-5952
Master Chef Massimo Navarretta

For Father's Day, we went to Onotria on Friday evening to avoid all the weekend crowds. The restaurant is located where the 55 and 73 freeways meet. One critic said the area is a "heartless dead zone." But the rustic ambience took me out of the normalcy lifestyle of Orange County and into a semi-experience of an Italian villa. Artichoke and lavender plants lined the sidewalk. Grapevines intertwined the trellises and hung over our heads as we approached the front door. They also had their own herb and vegetable garden. As you walk in, you will see a charming spiral staircase, stored wine bottles and archways to match its rustic decor.

The servers talk to its patrons like old friends. I was a taken aback when our server came and said in a bit sarcastic, yet friendly tone, "So, I guess you're stuck with me tonight." She was very helpful though and explained everything to us.

The menu, however, was a bit confusing. Instead of the usual organization by types of food (pasta, seafood, chicken, etc), they grouped their entrees around 6 types of wines & complementary food selections recommended by the chef. This is a great way if you know which type of wine you would like, and then flip to the page and choose a dish that way. But if you are the type of eater who thinks..."ok, I would like seafood today..." you would have to flip through several pages to read about each seafood dish they serve.

Taglierini Pasta with a Scampi, Scallop & King Crab Sauce - The seafood fragrance was very robust when the server brought this dish out. Each of our dishes had sprigs of lavender from their garden, which was a nice touch. The crab sauce here was sweet and buttery. And the scampi was pretty good and had a generous amount of meat for its size. Veal Scaloppini topped with Zucchine Blossoms & Fontina Cheese - There's the lavender sprig again. Portions were a bit smaller for this entree, but the sauce was creamy and had several layers of flavor.

The food was pretty good and the atmosphere was relaxed, but I think I will try other Italian restaurants in the OC area before coming back here again.

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