28241 Crown Valley Parkway
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
I have gotten an Entertainment Coupon Book every year, for the last ten years. I have written on this blog that I like using this book. It helps save us on eating out. As you can probably tell from reading this blog, we eat out quite often. So any help we can get on reducing the amount we pay is a help. For as long as I have been getting the book, there has been a coupon for Romeo Cucina. In all these years we have yet to use the coupon, until now.
Romeo Cucina is an upscale, neighborhood Italian restaurant. They have been opened here since 1991, a long time in the restaurant business these days. They have one other location in Laguna Beach, which is owned by another family member. The crowd here in Laguna Niguel is a little on the older side. They have a small bar area, where some older regulars gathered throughout our visit. Romeo Cucina's space is dominated by large windows, that make up two sides of the restaurant. The restaurant was comfy, without being cramped. The lighting is darkened, to accentuate a romantic vibe. Let's see if the food will brighten up the room for us.
After being seated we were given this bread basket, along with this olive spread. The bread crust was little on the harder side, but the bread portion was soft though. I am not much into olives, (in fact you can say they are sworn enemy), but I did like this olive spread. The saltiness of this paired well with the bread.
Katie began her meal with a Insalata della Casa. This house salad came with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, chevre and mint, along with their house dressing. Katie liked this dressing, which she denoted had lots of garlic in it. The salad had a very earthy flavor, which she enjoyed.
By now, if you have been a faithful reader of my blog, you know that I went with the Amante di Cesare. I seem to always go for a Caesar salad, whenever it is available on a menu. The one here at Romeo was very tasty. They had plenty of dressing on it, the portion size was good, and the Parmesan cheese was fresh and plentiful. My only complaint about this salad was the garlic croutons. I know croutons need to be hard, but these ones were like trying to chomp down on ice cubes.
Katie heard Lobster Ravioli while the waitress was telling us the specials, and decided that would be what she ordered. She was more than happy with this selection, calling it, "the best lobster ravioli she has ever had!". If I had a dollar for every time we went out and Katie proclaimed something was the best she has had, I would not have to use coupons to go out to eat, because I would be rich! Back to the ravioli though, she enjoyed the sauce here because it was not as creamy or rich as others, and the presence of garlic was enjoyable to her. I felt the sauce needed more cream, but I really like heavier sauces. The lobster was fresh, and did not taste fishy, according to Katie. It has been a week since we have eaten here, and she is still talking about this plate, so I guess she really liked it.
The menu at Romeo Cucina did not wow me. Nothing really caught my eye. I usually know what I am going to order before entering a restaurant, but here I was unsure. I settled on this Vitello Porcini. This veal dish was served with mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and a Marsala sauce. I was disappointed with the serving size of veal here. Two tiny medallions, smaller than the size of a billiards ball. The meat was fork tender, and had a great flavor, but I felt there could have been more veal here. The mushrooms were cooked well, and because there were so many of them, they became the star of this plate. The roasted potatoes were okay. The larger ones were not as tender as the smaller ones, and harder to get through. The garlic spinach here was real good. Had great flavor, and the garlic really brought the spinach to life.
Time for dessert, and Katie picked the Tartufo. This traditional Italian dessert had a zabaglione cream center, encased by a gianduia cream and crushed hazelnut and cocoa powder. Basically, in English this was a scoop of chocolate ice cream with a cream center. This was very good, and refreshing. The ice cream was really good, not too rich. I would probably gets this dessert next time I came here.
One dessert that I would definitely avoid the next time I was here would be this Butterscotch Banana Rum Cake. All three items mentioned in the name of this dessert were barely present. The cake portion of this was dry, so the rum could not be detected. The banana flavor of the cake was also missing in action. Lastly, the butterscotch cream this was topped with was devoid of any butterscotch flavor. Very disappointing end to my meal.
I had mixed feelings about my time at Romeo Cucina. Katie loved all of her choices, and I thought all of mine were average to okay. I am sure we will be coming back here, because Katie enjoyed her meal so much. Hopefully the next time we visit something will pique my interest more than this time. The service on this night was great. Our glasses were never empty, and the food was brought out promptly and hot. Our waitress, Prisma, really made us feel welcome, and really talked this restaurant up. There must have been lots of regulars here, because she was very personable with everyone. Prices here were a little on the high side, (entrees were in the $20 range and the salads were just under $10), but we had our coupon, so it helped to soften the blow of the bill. Thanks Entertainment Book!
Out of five balconies (because who can hear the name Romeo, and not think of the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet? See I know some of the classics!), five being best to zero being worst, Romeo Cucina gets 3 balconies.
For more information on Romeo Cucina, click here: http://www.romeocucina.com/index.html