It’s easy to write off a new bistro when it transmigrates into a location that’s been reincarnated more times than Lord Vishnu. But in the restaurant world, rebirth is a karmic reality with tenants cycling through corporate real estate like china through a commercial dishwasher.
Rigatoni de la Farma.
Pizzelle’s Bistro in Tustin is giving new life to a meandering space that may have more split levels and stairs than The Winchester Mystery House. I remember it as soccer team party headquarters when it was Sergeant Pepperoni’s Pizza Store. Never mind the legions who have called it home since then, it’s a fit.
Chef/owner Brad Romoff comes to us by way of Pangea and Proof Bar. He also opened many Roy’s restaurants in Hawaii which may be why he calls his cuisine Italian with Mediterranean and Asian influence. In lesser hands, this could be a fusion nightmare. Instead, it feels classically Italian with a few dishes featuring the subtle use of Asian ingredients where they not only work, but carry the menu.
The calamari with spicy aioli was classic and tender, the poki chips, even better. This pan-Asian appetizer features four large won ton wrappers laden with glittering rubies of diced tuna and shaved red onion drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Caesar and chopped salads were mundane precursors. Better the albondigas with its savory rich red broth and clove-tinged meatballs.
Romoff makes a classical menu-anchoring fettuccine Alfredo but don’t miss the Rigatoni de la Farma. Chicken, mushrooms and fat pasta tubes are coated in a mascarpone sesame-soy emulsion that is at once smoky, complex and creamy. Salmon with angel hair in pesto cream sauce is carefully crafted and delicious.
Put away your WS VintageChart+ app, the wine list is but a carefully chosen Post-it of half dozen food friendly sips. No overblown Zinfandels or overpriced cult wines, just a few Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc selections that let you taste the food.
The service is great. Kari is a veteran like the waitress from Studs Terkel’s Working: buoyant, engaging and comic. Juan, the evening server is polished, warm and professional.
Pizzelle are wafer thin Italian waffle cookies embossed with ornate designs that come with your check. A sweet ending to a great meal.
651 E. First Street Tustin, CA 92780 714.730-2665
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