28731 Los Alisos Blvd. #B3
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
Piccolino seems a little out of place. It is tucked away in a shopping center most people do not even know exists. Right up Los Alisos, almost to the 241 toll road, right next to a Vons grocery store. This is the kind of restaurant that seems like it should be vying for customers dollars in the Newport area, but has been jettisoned to the foothills of Mission Viejo.
In Italian, Piccolino means small, and this place is not large by any means, so the name fits. Opened in 2007, this restaurant has a very loyal following, and has gotten good reviews. We arrived at seven on a Saturday night, and the place was moderately crowded, with what seemed like middle aged to older families, coming here after leaving Saddleback church. We were seated quickly and after perusing the menu, this is what arrived at our table.
Here is a quick shot of the bread basket that was served to us. The bread was just okay, but the sauce above was interesting. Katie and I both tried to identify it, but were unable to do so. I think it was an avocado/pesto/yogurt blend, but I am still not too sure about it.
For an appetizer, we went with the Focaccia Farcita al Forno. This is just a fancy way of saying cheese bread. This cheese bread was stuffed with fontina and mozzarella cheese, and when I say stuffed, I mean stuffed, as you can see from the bottom picture. I thought this was okay, but was not in love with it. The fontina cheese seemed a little over-powering to me. When the red sauce was added, it did mellow out the cheese a bit. The bread part of this dish was good, but kind of got pushed to the side by the big cheese taste.
Katie's choice for dinner was the Fettucine Panna, Pollo & Piselli. This dish combined the pasta with chicken, peas, and parmesan sauce. We both felt that the chicken was tender, and the pasta was cooked perfectly. You could tell that they took great pride in their pasta's. The sauce was just average, and did not stand out.
I went with a pasta dish as well, the Fusilli Salsiccia & Funghi. This dish featured Italian sausage ragout, onion, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and pecorino. I liked all of these big flavors coming together. The sausage was cooked well, but the big spot light was shining on the pasta. The corkscrew shape held on to the sauce well, and the denseness of the noodle held my interest. A very good dish, but I would have wished for more sausage.
Piccolino is a good restaurant to try if you are in the area, and are looking for good Italian food. Is it destination dining? Probably not. I can not see people coming all the way from Newport Beach to eat here, but it is good enough that maybe some people who live in the Mission Viejo area may not have to drive to Newport, or another area to get their Italian fix. The service was very good the night we were here. The wait staff and bussers were right on top of everything. The atmosphere was business casual, and we felt that the prices were competitive.
Out of five top hats, (because in the 1935 movie Top Hat, Ginger Rogers sang and danced to a song called Piccolino), five being best to zero being worst, Piccolino gets 3 top hats.
For more information on Piccolino, click here: http://www.piccolinomv.com/index.html