Monday, January 30, 2012

Cucina Enoteca - Irvine, CA (Spectrum)

I stumbled upon Cucina Enoteca by accident. It was a happy accident don't get me wrong but I had originally planned to have dinner at Javier's next door. It was date night and my date and I both really like Javier's but the wait time was 2 hours. So the thing is, they do not take reservations on the weekends. Friday night is considered the start of the weekend to them. My date had called up Javier's after work to check on the wait time and they informed us that there was no wait currently and we were only 10 minutes away so we decided to chance it. We got there 15 minutes after we hung up the phone only to find out that the "no wait" had turned into a 2 hour wait. How does that even happen in the span of 15 minutes. Only in Irvine!

I hate waiting! I only wait when I absolutely have too. I very rarely wait to get into a restaurant. If I cannot get into a place, I will just leave and find another place. There are just too many places around here to wait for food. I'm just not going to do it. Luckily, on this particular night as we peeped into the newly opened Cucina Enoteca, there was no waiting. I'm only assuming it was perfect timing on our part that we got a table right away because this place looks like it should be filled to the brim with people.

We were seated at this really nice table at the center of the restaurant at this table with these really comfortable chairs and romantic chandelier lighting. It was really cozy. I could tell right away that this was my kind of place.

Farmer's Chopped Salad - I've been on the outs with salads lately but this one...well this one pulled me back in. It may very well be the best salad I've ever had. It is simple with a very simple tangy vinaigrette but it is amazing! Oh it is also topped with crumbled blue cheese but we left that off because know...lactose intolerant me.

Short Rib Pappardelle - this rich wide ribbon pasta dish was really flavorful and the short rib was tender. If you are looking for a hearty stick to your ribs kind of meal, order this dish!

Pepperoni and Fennel Sausage Pizza - their pizzas have a nice crust on them. 

You don't need to ask me Mr./Mrs. Server, I ALWAYS save room for dessert. 

Zeppole - Italian donut holes in a caramel like sauce. Nirvana on a plate!

So we fell so hard for Cucina Enoteca that we came back the next night. It was a Saturday night and it was really busy. We didn't make a reservation and decided to try our luck again at getting seated right away. No dice. There was a 1.5 hour wait! I didn't know if I should wait or not. I put my name down since my date was still trying to find a parking space. By some amazing luck, my reservation buzzer went off just as my date came walking up. We were seated on a really busy night. So lucky. I find out later that they had mixed up the reservations and we accidentally got seated earlier than planned. Food service was slow today since it was so busy. They gave us complimentary bread. You normally have to order bread at this place.

CE 'brandt farms'  Burger w/ truffle fries...

Yes I said TRUFFLE fries...

Shrimp Puttanesca Angel Hair - another very simple dish with giant perfectly cooked shrimps accented with capers and chopped green olives. It is a runner's carbo-loading dream come true. Well for this runner anyways. :)

This place has great food, a cozy atmosphere, some great wines if you are into that. Plus, it is right across the way from the Edward's theater if you want to catch a movie after dinner. I like this place a lot and will be back to sample their other dishes in the near future. My goal is to try everything on their menu! It's hard work but someone has to do it.

February 3, 2012

One Friday afternoon I decided that I wanted to go to Cucina Enoteca for dinner so I went online to make a reservation. I almost could not believe it when I saw that they were totally booked up for the entire evening. So I took to Twitter to express my sadness...

Next thing I knew Cucina Enoteca contacted me directly to let me know that they had a last minute cancellation and that I could have the table if I wanted it. Score!

We get there and was promptly seated. I sent the restaurant a tweet to thank them for accommodating my procrastinating self. They replied and said buon appetito!

I decided to order the Farmer's Chopped Salad...

...and this Cotechino Sausage Stuffed Squid! This dish was an explosion of flavors. The sausage was sweet while the spicy tomato brodo was savory with a little kick. A really unique and interesting dish!

I don't know if they had seen my tweets but the chef sent out this complimentary Beet and Ricotta Salad...

...and this Yellowtail Crudo! The yellowtail was so fresh and just look at how beautiful it looks. Like a work of art. M commented that he really liked this dish and he is not a big fish fan. I was surprised when he told me that this was the best raw fish dish he has ever had. He doesn't like seafood so this was saying a lot. The beets in the Beet Salad was so tender and sweet. I wasn't planning on eating so much salad but I couldn't help myself. So good! I had wanted to save room for dessert but the two amazing dishes the chef sent out took up all the real estate in my stomach. But I was full and happy! Another amazing meal in the books.

Cucina Enoteca (Irvine Spectrum)
31 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 861-2222


giraffy said...

holy crow that place looks delicious. Must try.

Anonymous said...

I am SOOO hungry now!

Glenn Jones said...

There seem to be a lot of decent places springing up at the Spectrum these days. Good! I'm going for lunch today.