Italian Renaissance at Canaletto, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Not pictured: Awesome bread

Sometimes, I feel bad for Canaletto at Fashion Island. Its take on regional Italian cuisine frequently gets lost to the shopping center's crowd, especially the mock Italians that have their Ferraris and Fiats valeted just in front of the restaurant. The crowds usually want eggplant parmigiana and don't care for the in-house salumi, the rare soups and risottos, or any of the other subtleties. But despite its setting, Canaletto has thrived for years now--and the Italians that work here, from the bartenders to the wait staff, not only speak the language but emote like a real paisane.

You can spend weeks here just going through their grappas and digestifs, but the cocktail program has markedly improved over the past year. Consider their Italian Renaissance.

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Five Restaurant Trends We Can Live Without, 2014 Edition

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Photos by Dustin Ames

This needs nearly no introduction: food trends evolve. A while back, it was cupcakes and stuff stirred into mac 'n cheese; before that, it was reinvented comfort food and moonshine. Many of the items on this list appeared years ago in Los Angeles. As with many things, it took a while and now it's started to appear in the desolate stretches of South Orange County.

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Amar Santana Announces Upcoming Concept: Vaca, a Spanish Restaurant

Amar Santana biopicture.jpg
Why the hell do we not have a better pic in our archives?

When a chef goes off to open their own concept, it's a risk. Those that succeed are in it for the long haul. Some are even crazy enough to go through the process a second time. In the case of Amar Santana, he is revving to go.

Previously based out of Charlie Palmer's inside Bloomingdale's, chef returns to Costa Mesa with a cuisine as fierce as his Broadway smash in Laguna Beach. According to Santana, Vaca will be "inspired traditional Spanish." His new space will be across Bristol, inside Park Towers.

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Seafood City Now Open In Irvine

Anne Marie Panoringan
Hunger waiting game

We'd never seen such a sight. So many Filipinos descending upon one area in Irvine. We thought we were in Daly City Cerritos. It took three cycles to turn around the corner of Armstrong and Barranca on opening day. It made The District look like Cars Land.

Seafood City adds to the list of ethnic supermarket brands (Wholesome Choice, Farm Direct, Mitsuwa, H-Mart, Zion, Super Irvine and both 99 Ranch Markets) to call this seemingly vanilla landscape home. We shook our head in disbelief just writing that. The next time someone gripes about a lack of good eats that aren't a chain around there, just rattle this list off and see if they can comprehend.

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5 Ways to Make a Better Turkey

Categories: Five Great...

Photo by Tim Sackton

Well, it's that time of the year again. The Weekly newsroom is working in overdrive so we don't fall too far behind taking time off, I'm churning out holiday-themed articles, and we're all planning not to drive on Wednesday -- It's Thanksgiving.

Nothing about the holiday really changes much year to year. Nothing's ever going to supplant turkey as protein number one (much to my chagrin), but there is one change Clam clan this year: I'm finally going to be making my family's turkey. So, for myself, and for those of you who're taking a crack at the bird for the first time or for the 40th, here's five ways you can make it better than ever before.

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Ten Thanksgiving Meal Options in OC

Categories: Holidays

Server not included

While most places are closed on Thanksgiving, there are some that aren't. Disneyland, movie theaters and the following spots are establishments we came up with when rustling up some recommendations. It's a list 'o fun, alphabetized and peppered with noteworthy details. Location info links below guide you to all but Moulin. Remember to call ahead for availability, and don't say we didn't warn you.

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ChocXO Coffee and Chocolate Roaster Is Opening an Irvine Factory, Take a Tour and Win a Year's Worth

Categories: Now Open

Photo by Cleo Tobbi
They're a churnin'

So, this weekend, ChocXO, one of our favorite coffee (and chocolate) roasters in Orange County will be opening their Irvine chocolate factory. To celebrate, they're giving free tours on Friday and Saturday (with included edible swag) and giving away a year's worth of chocolate to multiple people.

If you're interested in free chocolate, free hot cocoa, free liquid chocolate shots, and more free chocolate, check out the everything after the jump.

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Koc Crawfish Crosses a Crawfish Joint and a Snail Restaurant, Adds Beer

Categories: Now Open

Photos by Jennifer Fedrizzi
Commence crackin'

You've seen the likes of KOC Crawfish Beer Club & Restaurant before. With its neon signage, blink-and-you-miss-it strip-mall location, and cartoon mascot of a sea creature you're about to consume in a whirlwind of cayenne-garlic butter and lemons, KOC is obviously the latest entry in the growing genre of Vietnamese-owned Cajun seafood houses.

If there's one place that spurred the proliferation of this kind of eatery, it's the Boiling Crab. Although the now-ubiquitous chain didn't invent the concept, it's the Ray Kroc of the genre, sans the megalomania. The Boiling Crab figured out what customers really wanted in a seafood restaurant--reasonable prices, cold beer, an addictive sauce--and created an empire.

Its success blazed the trail for the rest, including Claws, the Kickin' Crab and now KOC.

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Eat This Now: Monkey Balls at Chapter One: The Modern Local

Photo by Gabacho Jeff
Insert teabag joke here...

I spend so much time at C4 Deli in downtown SanTana that I've neglected its big sister, Chapter One: The Modern Local. So I swung by the other week to have myself a full meal: crunchy jalapeƱo poppers, a gigantic hamburger (make non-Sriracha hot sauce available, Argie Jeff and Gabacho Jeff!) and more Friscos that a healthy liver should be able to support.

Dessert seemed impossible, but then I noticed a new item: Monkey Balls.

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Dave & Buster's Apologizes for Tweeting "'I Hate Tacos' Said No Juan Ever"

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Photo by the Elmo Monster

I think I've gone to maybe one Dave & Buster's in my life--at the Block, of course, or the Outlets at Orange or whatever the hell they call themselves now. I hear it's popular for its happy hour and games, but still can't conceive how it's been open all these years (it's one of the few original Block tenants). In fact, I can be honest in saying I think about Dave & Buster's about once every other year, so insignificant it is to me.

But now I have nothing but Dave & Buster's on my mind: as a cowardly pendejo company that doesn't have the huevos to stand by a tired, semi-funny joke that they tweeted yesterday, almost immediately deleted, then apologized for it.

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