ENO-versity at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel (949.240.2000, ritzcarlton.com), once the chic gathering spot for wine sessions, has recently converted the “classroom” to enoSTEAK, an intimate steakhouse showcasing the finest in prime and grass-fed, pasture-raised beef, accompanied by locally-grown, organic produce. enoSTEAK also highlights artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, seafood and chicken dishes, and fine wines. The room, under the direction of Executive Chef Andres Jimenez, is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 6-10 p.m.
On the last Tuesday of every month, Pizzeria Ortica (714.445.4900, pizzeriaortica.com) presents fun, family-style Italian dinners, offering the best in seasonal produce, poultry and meats. Platters vary with each dinner, and have included salumi, verdure, and contorni, in addition to classics, such as porchetta. The three-course, communal table dinners are priced at $45 per person, and are slated for August 28, September 25, October 30, and November 27.
Popular for its Tuesday Martini Night, The Ritz Restaurant & Garden (949.720.1800, ritzrestaurant.com) has added Mardi Gras to Friday nights. The evening pays tribute to the French Quarter and the flavors of Bourbon Street. A Creole flair hits Arthur’s Famous BBQ, plus there is a New Orleans fish fry and Mason jar Veeve cocktails. The “Big Easy” sounds of jazz round out the ambiance. Entertainment includes Steel Drums from 5-7 p.m. , and The Delta Four (Disneyland Quartet) 7-10 p.m.
The summer menu is in place at Seasons52 at South Coast Plaza (714.437.5252, seasons52.com) starring a new 11-ounce Piedmontese all-natural, bone-in strip steak. Other items, all under 475-calories, include chilled lobster and shrimp spring rolls; grilled jumbo shrimp cavatappi pasta; organic tomatoes with warm-crusted mozzarella; a summer vegetarian tasting; and a berry cheesecake added to the mini-indulgence rack. The summer wine selection is Jam Jar Moscato 2011 from Western Cape South Africa.
Every Sunday through Labor Day, Summer Sunday at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Fashion Island (949.720.9633, flemingssteakhouse.com) features a three-course prime rib dinner for $29.95 per guest, plus tax and gratuity. The perfectly paired, B.R. Cohn North Coast Silver Cabernet Sauvignon 2008/2009, is available for $40. Through August 26, Fleming’s celebrates Summer Lovin’ Steak & Sangria prix fixe dinners. Every two weeks, a prime New York strip steak is prepared in a different manner and served with a new salad and dessert. Each menu also includes an optional hand-crafted sangria pairing for $7.95. The steak dinners are priced at $39.95 per person, plus tax and gratuity.
Quinoa, currently the rage at StoneFire Grill (stonefiregrill.com) is now prepared four ways at their eateries. Order it simply as a side with a dash of fresh lemon, mint and green onion; in the Healthy Hybrid, a potpourri of garbanzo beans, vegetables and feta cheese; substituted for chicken or meat in a salad; or enjoyed in the Keen Green spinach salad.
Bayside Restaurant (949.721.1222, baysiderestaurant.com) has begun its once-a-month (through October) Parrot Head sit-down Sunday Brunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free flowing Champagne accompanies the three-course meal. Live entertainment is provided by Mark Wood and the Parrot Head Duet Band. Cost, $29.95 per person, plus tax and gratuity.
After openings in Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach, Umami Burger (umami.com) has opened its third and largest Orange County location in Anaheim. Located in the restored Packard building in the Anaheim Packing District, an auto theme is prevalent throughout the decor. Umami burgers are all unique, but the Anaheim location has an exclusive on the Welsh rabbit burger house patty with broiled cheese sauce and house-made pickles, and the absinthe root beer float topped with absinthe ice cream from LA Creamery.
SOL Cocina (949.675.9800, solcocina.com) welcomes kids with a new menu created just for them by Executive Chef Deborah Schneider. Geared towards children ages 10 and younger, the special menu uses the same fresh ingredients as her regular coastal Mexican cuisine, but with smaller portions and less spice. Kids can choose from a variety of quesadillas, tacos, burritos, and combination plates.
Nirvana Grille (949.497.0027, nirvanagrille.com), just a short distance from the Laguna Festival of Arts and Laguna Playhouse, has opened its seasonal rooftop Bliss Bar for lunch and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. The al fresco dining space is also open for cocktails and appetizers, is available for private or corporate events or just a dinner for two.
On August 29, 6 p.m., Executive Chef Kim Seakyeong at Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza (714.352.2525, charliepalmer.com) will present a Healthy Lifestyle cooking class. The demonstration class will take place at Bloomingdale’s kitchen in housewares, followed by a special menu dinner at Charlie Palmer. Cost of the class, $85. Reservations required.
The Daily Grill in Fashion Island has closed, but loyalists can find another Daily Grill at Jamboree and Dupont in Irvine (949.474.2223). Moving into the vacated spot is Lark Creek Newport Beach, operated by the San Francisco-based Lark Creek Restaurant Group that includes prominent Chef Bradley Ogden.
Sweet and Saucy Shop, a favorite dessert shop of celebrities, has opened in Crystal Cove Promenade in Newport Coast (949.715.0920, sweetandsaucyshop.com). Elaborate custom cakes in 15 different flavors are available with or without fillings. Cookies are hand-decorated and available in custom shapes and colors. Dessert bar specialties include a vast variety of mini-desserts, assorted shot glass desserts and much more. The shop opens at 11 a.m. daily.
The Second Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival (lafw.com) will be held August 9-12 throughout the Los Angeles area. Over 100 celebrity chefs from across the nation will be in attendance, along with 250 acclaimed wineries and winemakers. For large groups or VIP sales, call 855.433.5239.