We recently celebrated SS’s birthday at Canaletto Ristorante Veneto in Newport Beach. Before deciding on a place to celebrate, I realized that coincidently, Newport Beach Restaurant Week was taking place at the time. The last day of Newport Beach Restaurant Week was on the 29th of January, a day I just happened to be free on. We were anxious to take advantage of looking through the prix fixe options offered.
As a diner, there are times when I want in on the promo deals when restaurants have their Dine whatever week or Restaurant this and that week. But as an industry worker, I HATE them.
At the time when I was scrolling through restaurants, DineLA was also going on. But it was about to come to a close (with the last day being on the 27th). The timing wouldn’t have worked out for me. I used to work at a restaurant that used to participate in DineLA regularly. I hated DineLA. Well, I hated working it. But because sometimes the deals offered were appealing, I’ve been intrigued to visit some of the restaurants participating in Dine LA, for years. But it usually never ended up happening. I never had time. I forgot about it. I got too lazy to venture out and fight through traffic just to go eat. Fighting through traffic to get to work was bad enough and I didn’t want to endure it when I didn’t have to. Most of the restaurants participating were miles away. And L.A. traffic makes me want to scream and relocate sometimes.
There were several restaurants that I wanted to try on the Newport Beach Restaurant Week list. After days of scrolling, the list was narrowed down to three choices: Fly N’ Fish Oyster Bar & Grill, CUCINA enoteca, and of course Canaletto Ristorante Veneto.
In the end, CUCINA enoteca and Canaletto’s were a tie. I choose. I told SS to choose. He said he’d be happy with either. I ended up choosing CUCINA enoteca. Even after making my final choice, I continued to browse through the list of menus. Hmmm….the seafood stew at Canaletto’s had its appeal. So did the cannoli. I haven’t had cannoli in forever and I heart them. Right before I was about to click away to make a reservation on OpenTable, I stopped myself. “Nevermind. I want to go to Canaletto’s,” I told SS.
The Restaurant Week lunch menu at Canaletto’s was $20 and dinner $40. Since I was free that day, I kind of wanted to make it a full-on a pig out day, an all day affair of pigging out. Maybe go to Canaletto’s for lunch and then go have something Asian for dinner somewhere, or vice versa. But unfortunately, SS was booked with appointments during the day and was only able to make it to dinner. Sucks for the sake of a pig out day (which I haven’t had in a while), but I guess it’s better for him, businesswise.
I read in Yelp that valet right in front of the restaurant is $10. But the structure is just right there and was free. Maybe it’s more convenient and makes more sense when the structure gets crazy packed. On the night that we went, parking spaces were abundant. But I still saw some people using the valet. I guess some people just like to shit out money to save walking a few extra yards.
Dinner reservation was at 7:30. We got there around seven and planned to walk around through the shops until our reservation time. But when we saw that the restaurant didn’t look too busy, we walked in and asked if we could be seated a little earlier than our reservation. And we were!
As usual, we had already looked over the menu online before arriving. For the entrée, there were mild disagreements on what to order. We usually share all the dishes, if you didn’t already know. So each dish had to be items that we both wanted. As I said, the seafood stew was one of the dishes that helped seal the deal in my decision. But the next day, I changed my mind about wanting the seafood stew and wanted the ravioli dish, but that didn’t tickle SS’s fancy much. In the end, being the nice person that I am (lol) and the fact that it was his birthday and stuff, I gave in and sacrificed ravioli for seafood stew, my original choice right before I changed my mind. We came in ready to order.
They have an open kitchen for dining entertainment. I, personally, hate working in open kitchens. Sometimes, it could feel like you’re a monkey in a cage and there for the viewing pleasure of others. I mean, you’re there to deal with the food preparation. But sometimes, it’s made into an attraction feature. I swear, some people just stare and watch you…and take pictures. It’s one thing if you’re a chef pulling off fire shows and doing a knife juggling act or whatever, but for regular kitchen folks like me, we aren’t even doing anything that out of the ordinary and are not entertainers. So, I don’t get why some people want to stare as if they are watching an act. Maybe some cooks/chefs don’t care. But, it’s a personal annoyance of mine when working. Some days, I want to stare back and yell, “Whatcha staring at, foo?!” So if you’re out at a restaurant where they have an open kitchen, try to remember that not everyone wants to be watched and turned into an entertainment source. Some people don’t mind, but some do. It can be distracting and annoying.
Bread/Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
I often walk into restaurants famished. And it’s always the bread to the rescue to sustain me until the food comes out.
Polipo con patate
Warm octopus and potato salad with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
Squeezing the lemon wedge on it seemed to make the flavors pop.
Meatballs with sauteed mushrooms and truffle oil; served with soft Gorgonzola polenta
SS said the flavors of it reminded him of jangjorim. That’s a true Korean for ya. Jangjorim is soy sauce based. It kind of reminded me of the time when I had steak at a restaurant for the first time, when I was a kid. “This is like American Jangjorim,” the little me stated. My parents still laugh about that today.
Coe secoe e amarone
Risotto (made with Carnaroli rice) with beef tenderloin, porcini mushrooms, Amarone wine and Grana Padano
I got extra Parmesan on my portion. This was my favorite of the two entrees. The extra Parm on mine deepened the rich and creamy taste of it. See? We get share plates to share everything.
Zuppa di pesce alla chioggiotta
Seafood stew with scampi, prawns, clams, mussels, and fresh fish fillet with grilled ciabatta
I was still wishing we had gotten the ravioli lol.
I ate the rest of my portion of the risotto and there was more than half of the stew left. I was starting to feel full at this point. I tried to digest a little so that I can have room for dessert. But it was a fail. No room in the belly opened up and we had to take it to go.
Third Course (to go), Dolci: hours later, after we got home, we were digested enough to take a nibble at ’em.
Cannoli filled with sheep’s milk ricotta, candied orange, bittersweet chocolate, and pistachios.
The last time I cannoli was probably at Buddy V’s in Vegas. Been too long!
Zabaione alla gritti
Chilled Zabaoine with fresh berries, bellini sorbet, whipped cream, aramena cherry and baicoli cookie