Sunday, April 14, 2013

Taking It Easy at Delizie

Delizie Ristorante and Bar
25380 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

After living in Mission Viejo for the last five years, you might have thought that I would have gone to all of the restaurants in the city where I live. The fact is that there are 229 restaurants listed on Yelp for the city of Mission Viejo. Sure some of those are fast food places and still others are now closed, but that number kind of amazed me. I could eat at a different place from January 1st to well into August. Fortunately this blog is not called, "Eating My Way Through Mission Viejo", because we would have already exhausted all of our dinner options.

I had heard about Delizie's from a reader of the blog, S. Hurd. She had written to me asking advice on where to go out for her birthday dinner. After I gave her my suggestions, she struck out on her own by going to Delizie's. After getting back she email me to tell me that I must go, that the service was great, and it would make for a great review. Not one to shy away from a great tip, I set up a long overdue double date with our friends Richard and Lindsay, and we headed to Delizie Ristorante and Bar.

As I was doing a little research for this review I found out that this restaurant is owned by the same owner of another Italian place in Mission Viejo, Piccolino's. We have been to that restaurant before, and enjoyed our experience there. The two restaurants serve the same style of Italian cuisine, but are trying to distinguish themselves from one another by featuring different menu items.

Delizie's is located in the same shopping center as Michael's and Big Lots, across from the City Hall of Mission Viejo. This was the same location of another Italian restaurant, Capriccio's. I never did make it there, but that place has been gone for almost two years now. We did not have a reservation on this Sunday evening, but the restaurant was not very busy. Maybe three or four tables during our visit here. The restaurant has a nice colorful vibe. Walls are a brighter shade of green than I would have expected, which lends to the cheerfulness of the space. There is a small bar off of the hostess stand right when you walk in the door. The menu is pretty large, and features the usual Italian staples; pasta dishes, salads, pizzas, and entrees. Since Richard was running about ten minutes late, I was starving. So we checked out the menu, and this is what we got.

Of course most Italian restaurants start you off with a bread basket, and Delizie's was no different. What was  different was that instead of butter, they give you a cucumber based dip that was kind of like a cross between an aji sauce and a tapenade. It was pretty mild, but went well with the rather average bread.

We all must have been hungry, because we each got something before our meal. Let's start with Lindsay's pre-meal selection, the Cream of Celery Soup ($8). This was the soup of the day on the day we were here. Lindsay thought that this was a pretty bland tasting soup, but she did like the creaminess of it and the toasted bread that was placed on top of it.

There is something I can almost always count on when I am at an Italian restaurant with Katie, she will almost always order the restaurants version of a Caprese. This Mozzarella alla Caprese ($13) was made up of yellow and red beefsteak tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and extra virgin olive oil. Katie felt the items used in this were very fresh, she liked the inclusion of the yellow tomatoes as well, and the serving size of this was pretty good sized. This is one Italian appetizer I can not really get into, so I passed on having any of this.

By this time in my blogging career I feel I have become a pretty good judge of Caesar salads. This has been my go to salad choice for some time now. It was again at Delizie's as well. This Caesar ($7) was a pretty traditional version, with the chopped romaine hearts, shaved Parmesan, croutons, and Caesar dressing. This was a better than average Caesar. The produce was good, the dressing could have been poured with a heavier hand, but I always favor extra dressing. I liked the large squares of Parmesan, but the croutons were a little on the bigger side, and not easily broken down with my fork.

When we are dining with people, it is always tricky taking pictures of their food. I try to be quick, so that explains why I only got one faraway shot of Lindsay's dinner, the Pollo Marsala ($18). This basic chicken dish did not win much praise from Lindsay. She felt it was okay, but nothing she would get again. This was served with roasted potatoes and vegetables. She also got a side of Asparagus ($5). She commented that she liked the side items here, more than the chicken.

In contrast to Lindsay's feelings on her dinner, Katie seemed pretty happy with hers. She went with the Tagliolini dell'Orto with Chicken added ($18). This plate started with a base of small flat ribbon pasta, which also contained leeks, spinach, green beans, and chicken broth. It kind of had a chicken noodle soup feel to it, but just not quite as wet. Katie liked the lightness of this plate, and loved the fresh made pasta used here. The chicken was tender and was a good add on in her opinion.

Lindsay's much worse half, Richard went for a baked pasta dish for his meal, the Rigatoni al Forno ($14). This heavy looking plate included ricotta, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and Italian sausage. I never thought I would hear Richard complain about there being too much sausage around him, but that was his major gripe with this plate. He felt the sausage really overpowered the well made pasta and sauce. I guess Richard is not as much of a sausage lover as I thought. Who knew?

I had a little trouble deciding what I wanted here, but I am really happy I settled on the Penne Con Salsiccia ($14). This dish consisted of small tube pasta, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and a spicy tomato sauce. All of these items went really well together. The pasta is well made, the sauce was not as spicy as I would have liked, but it coated the noodles well and still had a decent flavor to it. The sausage and mushrooms were well placed in this dish, and not over the top at all. A very good pasta dish that I would have a hard time passing up again. Both Richard and I split an order of Meatballs ($4) and a Grilled Italian Sausage ($6). I very rarely order extra meats at Italian restaurants, but I kind of like this idea now. The meatballs were pretty tender, with a very good meaty flavor. The sausage was very flavorful, but a little on the dry side. I think I would stick with the meatballs on my next visit.

All of us were pretty full from the meal at this point, but passing up dessert was not an option. Richard and Lindsay decided to split the Chocolate Gelato ($7). Both of them thought the gelato was good, and they really liked the edible bowl it came in and the fresh strawberries. Katie and I tried their Dessert Special, the Chocolate Spec ($9). This tiramisu like cake was pretty good. Not as moist as other Italian desserts seem to be, but with a real subtle chocolate flavor. Not very heavy, this was a very good send off for a good meal.

Both Katie and I liked Delizie's more than Richard and Lindsay did. I felt all the dishes that we consumed had fresh ingredients, were made well, and the presentation was pretty strong here. There is definitely nothing that we experienced on this visit that would prevent us from coming back again. I think the prices are a tad too high, but a nice meal could be had here for under $30 a person. I really enjoyed the service during our stay. Our waitress had plenty of help, and it was a real team effort service wise. Glad that a reader of the blog pointed us in the right direction by giving us this hidden gem, right in our own backyard. It definitely proves that there are more great restaurants that we need to try out there.

Out of five surfboards, (because the word delizie in Italian means delight, and the birthplace of Glen Campbell was Delight, Arkansas. In turn, Glen Campbell was a touring member of the Beach Boys from 1964 to 1965. I know it's a reach, but that is what I came up with.), five being best to zero being worst, Delizie Ristorante and Bar gets 3.5 surfboards.

For more information about Delizie Ristorante and Bar, click here:

Delizie Ristorante & Bar on Urbanspoon

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