New Hope for the OC

I happen to live in Orange County, California – fate brought me to this part of the country – actually a job ad in the L.A. Times, but I tend to romanticize everything. I have no real complaints, the weather is great, low crime, good schools for the kids and the beach is just a stone’s throw away. Sure, there are too many Republicans and cultural opportunities are limited though the Orange County Performance Art Center is bringing us more and more options – but all in all I am happy here. Except for one thing – the choice of good restaurants. Orange County is a wasteland when it comes to interesting and top quality eateries – but there is hope, good restaurants are opening all around the OC and I am happy to report on a few of my favourites.

First and foremost is Marche Moderne – if you have read some of my other blogs, my predilection for French cuisine is no secret. Marche Moderne is perched on the third floor of the South Coast Plaza shopping center, though once inside you are transported to a wonderful Brasserie style atmosphere. Marche’s Head Chef Florent Marneau and his wife Amelia, Marche Moderne’s pastry chef put together a terrific menu with French classics such as a selection of delectable Charcuterie or a Foie Gras Terrine as appetizers and with entrees that range from an amazing Duck Breast with a selection of wild mushrooms to Sweetbreads and the flag bearer of all French classics, Angus Steak au Poivre. My personal favorite is Rabbit Coq Au Vin, once you try this dish, you’ll be coming back again and again for more. As for the pastries by Amelia Marneau – every selection has something special and delightful to experience. Most definitely one of Orange County’s standout establishments.

Early last year, David Meyers, founder and owner of Comme Ca on Melrose in Los Angeles, blessed us with the opening of Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa, just across the street from South Coast Plaza. This is one of the OC’s newest jewels as far as good eats is concerned, serving a variety of classic Italian dishes, not the least delectable being their authentic Neapolitan pizza – made the way you would have it in Napoli on the south coast of Italy. This pizza is slightly doughier than the thin crust pies most Americans are used to however the textures and flavors from Ortica’s wood burning oven and the fresh toppings and original combinations – for my taste just order the Pizza Margherita to get the essential – make for the best pizza in town. The rest of the menu is complimented by small portioned appetizers and entrees which give you the opportunity to try several dishes without getting too full – a real fresh approach and relief from the huge pasta portions you get at most Italian eateries in the area. Though the service still needs some tweaking, the overall experience at Pizzeria Ortica is both genuine and delicious.

It would behoove Orange County’s restaurant scene if more Los Angeles restauranteurs would open satellite establishments down in our neck of the woods – Charlie Palmer has done so as has the House of An, of Crustacean fame in Beverly Hills, with AnQi. I have not tried these yet, but look forward to doing so soon. In the meantime, I remain on the search for new and exciting places that will take the OC to a new level of culinary excellence.
Marche Moderne

3333 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: 714-434-7900
Pizzeria Ortica
650 Anton Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: 714-445-4900

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