Alessa In Laguna Beach
By Marla Bird

Laguna Beach means beach walks, quaint shops, art galleries, and now, It also means the home of Alessa, a gem of a restaurant.

Alessa

New on the scene, Alessa is packed with appreciative Laguna natives for lunch and dinner. It serves knock-out, authentic dishes, one more delicious than the last.

The chef, Alexandradro Pirozzi, hails from Naples, arriving here in Laguna fresh after a stint at the prestigious Antonello's in Costa Mesa. His staff, mostly Italians, are congenial, well trained and attentive.

Imaginative cuisine is a gigantic leap from the usual spaghetti/pizza, Olive Garden fare. Calamari Fritti (the best I have had in years), is served with a cup of a deep, thick Arrabiata sauce for dunking. Delicate, paper-thin Octopus Carpaccio has a lovely dressing of a Sorrento lemon oil infusion and is adorned with caper berries.

Definitely worth ordering is the palate-surprising combination of fresh strawberries and roasted beets with traces of mozzarella and walnuts. Organic butternut squash ravioli is a poem of flavor with roasted sage with a dusting of caramelized brown sugar. Just mouth watering!

The menu lists an imaginative array in its "Prosciutto and Mozzarella Bar." There are five grand pizzas to choose from (including Salcicce with Italian sausage, sauteed mushrooms, mozzarella and pomodoro sauce. you will be able to make a meal of the starting dishes titled "Per Iniziare."

Pastas are all made in-house daily. Look for the "Nonna Ida's specialties including Lasagne Napoletana" named for Chef Pirozzi's grandmother. It's to die for. Fish, chicken lamb and beef all take a bow on this stellar stage. Try the braised shoulder of lamb; it practically melts in the mouth.

Prices are reasonable and the impressive wine list is extensive.

Marla Bird is a former associate editor of Bon Appetit She served as restaurant critic for The Daily Pilot for a many years and is a member of the AIWF and SCRW.

Last update Mon February 18, 2013 2:10 PM