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The 13 Best Italian Restaurants in Orange County

Molly Box | March 10, 2021 |

Whether you are in search of an unforgettable plate of pasta or a fresh platter of seafood, enjoy our list of Orange County’s best Italian restaurants.

If you're up for a culinary adventure, check our lists for best Italian restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Spaghetti Pomodoro dish at Angelina's

1. Angelina's Pizzeria Napoletana

With ingredients imported from Italy and produce sourced from local farms, the pizza at Angelina’s is borderline artwork. From the menu to the aesthetics of the restaurant, everything at this pizzeria was carefully curated to take you to Italy. Self-described as fine-casual, Angelina's is the place to be for some mouthwatering meals. 8573 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, 949.536.5200

2. Alessa by Chef Pirozzi

Born in Naples, Italy, Chef Alessandro Pirozzi’s upbringing and countless hours spent in the kitchen is evident in every bite of food. The restaurant is a Laguna Beach favorite, and it’s pretty clear why. Offering outdoor dining and four delightful menus (lunch, dinner, dessert and drinks), the Italian eatery is a go-to for authenticity. 2929 East Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 949.675.2932

3. Louie's by the Bay

Who doesn’t want to dine on lobster with Calabrian chili cream or a 8-oz. Angus filet while soaking in the views of Newport Bay? Warm, elegant and all-around enchanting; Louie’s by the Bay is equal parts restaurant and experience. Owner Ron Salisbury knows how to create a successful restaurant—having done it twice before with the iconic Cannery Seafood of the Pacific and El Cholo—so it’s no wonder Louie’s is exceptional as well. 2801 W Coast Hightway, Newport Beach, 949.720.1800

Bomboloni.jpg

4. Oliver's Osteria

Open for outdoor dining on their atmospheric covered patio, Oliver’s Osteria boasts authentic traditional Italian meals with modern upgrades. Owner and Executive Chef Erik De March, originally from Imola, Italy, adjusts the menu each season to embody the season’s finest ingredients. If you’re seeking a genuine Italian dinner (or brunch), reserve a table at Oliver’s. 853 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.715.0261

5. Cucina Enoteca

Bringing together traditional Italian recipes and the essence of Southern California, Cucina Enoteca’s menu offers a selection of elevated choices. The refreshing lunch features accents like honey thyme vinaigrette and cannellini bean hummus, and the dinner options are equally as imaginative. Fashion Island, 951 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949.706.1416

6. Il Barone Ristorante

Carpaccio di manzo, burrata prosciutto pizza and ravioli al pomodoro, oh my! With Il Barone’s expansive selection of Italian dishes, everyone is bound to find something they’ll love. All pastas at Il Barone are made in-house and by hand, and you can even purchase some of their standout ingredients, like the black truffle cream or arrabbiata sauce, to recreate your favorite meal at home. 900 Bristol St. N, Newport Beach, 949.955.2755

Canaletto Tiramisu dessert.jpg

7. Canaletto Ristorante Veneto

With a wine list that’s won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, housemade pastas and authentic wood-fired pizza, Canaletto’s offerings make it standout. Open for outdoor dining, contactless curbside pickup and delivery, the restaurant is the perfect choice for an evening out on the town or around the kitchen table. 545 Newport Beach Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949.640.0900

8. Bello by Sandro Nardone

Chef Sandro Nardone, Chef de Cuisine Frank DeLoach and the restaurant’s general manager Roberto Marino have built an authentic Italian kitchen rooted in simplicity and goodness. Nardone, born in a small Italian town tucked between Rome and Naples, opened the restaurant in 2019 to share his expertise with Orange County. With the help of DeLoach and Marina, Bello has become a unique icon of Italian cooking in O.C. 1200 Bison Ave., Newport Beach, 949.520.7191

9. Il Fornaio in Irvine

With an inviting and open atmosphere, II Fornaio in Irvine engulfs guests in a Meditteranean experience. True to its namesake—“il Fornaio” translating to “the baker”— the location offers a menu chock-full of delicate and satisfying Italian dishes. Il Fornaio in Irvine is available for outdoor dining, as well as delivery and pickup. 18051 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, 949.261.1444

Meatballs from North Italia menu

10. Antonello Ristorante

Providing guests with high-end dining since 1979, Antonello Ristorante is a must for those of us searching for a dinner that doubles as an immersive Italian experience. The menu is extensive and filled with delectable offerings like penne vodka with shrimp and sole filet with white wine sauce, but the wine selection is what has made the restaurant award-winning. 3800 South Plaza Drive, Santa Ana, 714.751.7153

11. Rothschild's Restaurant

Since 1977, Rothschild’s has been making guests feel like family and making pasta that will blow you away. The renowned restaurant has recently welcomed its newest owner and Executive Chef, Frank Fassero, to join the family business. At Rothschild’s, start off the evening with something savory, like the toasted garlic bread or salmon cakes, then dine on some fettuccine or prime rib-eye, and round off the evening with some tiramisu. 2407 East Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar, 949.673.3750

Truffle garlic bread from North Italia

12. North Italia

With pasta made from scratch daily and an atmosphere of warmth and welcoming, North Italia is the ideal spot for a delightful Italian meal. We recommend making a reservation for the restaurant's weekend brunch to start your morning off right with some glazed Italian donut French toast or some Sicilian short rib ragu. However, whether you're dining on a Saturday morning or Thursday night, at North Italia you’re bound to have a great time and some great food. 2957 Michelson Drive, Irvine, 949.629.7060

13. Sapori Ristorante

Awarded Restaurant of the Year by the O.C Register Food Critic, Sapori lives up to its reputation of providing an outstanding culinary experience in a romantic Mediterranean atmosphere. The almost 32-year-old restaurant’s dining room is now open to guests, and is the perfect spot for more than just date night: Sapori is also available to host private occasions and special events. 1080 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, 949.644.4220



Photography by: Courtesy of Angelina's; courtesy of Oliver's Osteria; courtesy of Canaletto; North Italia photos by David Fox