#46. Linguine With Clams at Franco's Pasta Cucina

francos_clam_pasta.jpg
Edwin Goei

We continue to countdown our 100 favorite dishes at local restaurants. We'll be sharing these with you every weekday until our annual Best Of Issue comes out. Enjoy!

#46. Linguine With Clams at Franco's Pasta Cucina

As we've reported before, Franco, the moody, irascible owner known lovingly as The Pasta Nazi, á la Seinfeld, has retired from this food court stall a block away from John Wayne airport.   These days he's trained a capable replacement in the woman who now cooks his pastas.

But with the booth plastered with glossies of the chef in younger days -- standing beside political dignitaries like Clinton and Kissinger and his arms around Hollywood luminaries like Stallone and NYPD Blue's Dennis Franz -- Franco is still a palpable presence.

And of course there are his pastas, a legacy that I hope lasts forever.

These are pastas with unexpected things such as salmon, feta, and yellowtail, juggled with rigatoni, fettucine, linguine, and gnocchi--masterpieces worthy of a thousand Mario Batalis, but served on Styrofoam plates for about $9 with a salad, bread, and a drink.

The best ones are those with seafood. I especially like the linguine with clams. Generous fistfuls of the chopped bivalve is folded into a buttery concentrate redolent of sweet garlic and dotted with freshly shorn Italian parsley. The noodles are then added to the mix, tossed in pan, coaxed and caressed until every inch sops up flavors of the briny deep, the butter, the garlic, becoming still toothsome and slurpably good.

Lest you forget, you're still in Irvine, stuck in food court purgatory. But here, in this dish, you are in Italian pasta heaven.

Franco's Pasta Cucina, (949) 852-4699, 2222 Michelson Dr Ste 206, Irvine, CA 92612

The rest of the list--so far...

#100. Jerk Carnitas Torta at The Crosby
#99. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard
#98. Pork Chop Anything at Nice Time Deli
#97. Flying Saucer at Alberto's
#96. Frozen Custard at Marc Burger's in Macy's Signature Kitchen
#95. Collard Greens at Johnny Reb's
#94. Strawberry Shortcake from Job's Daughters
#93. Cuban Sandwich at DeSimone's Deli
#92. Lamb with Preserved Cabbage at Mas Islamic Chinese
#91. Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky
#90. Beans on Toast at The Olde Ship
#89. Midnight Al Pastor Burrito or Taco at Taqueria Tapatia
#88. Budino di Cioccolato, Pizzeria Ortica
#87. Beef Teriyaki Bowl, Teriyami
#86. Salmon Onigiri at Cream Pan
#85. Beef Fat Fries at SideDoor
#84. Silken Tofu & Thousand Year Old Egg at Asian Tapas
#83. Cambodian Beef Jerky at Sophy's
#82. Com Tam at Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
#81. Chipotle-Piloncillo Goat Cheese at SOL Cocina
#80. Nem Nuong Cuon at Au Lac Restaurant
#79. Blackened Mushroom & Tofu Burger at Taco Loco
#78. Fried Veggie Fish Fillet at Dong Phuong Tofu
#77. Tofu Vegetable Salad at BCD Tofu House
#76. Che Ba Mau at Thach Che Hien Khanh
#75. Barracuda Sushi at Ohshima
#74. Whole Lamb with Kabsa at Olive Tree
#73. 5 a.m. Chitterlings at Tri-Village
#72. Spinach Empanadas at El Gaucho #2
#71. Croissants at Molinos Bakery
#70. Beso de Monja at El Rincón del Sabor
#69. Fatteh at Kareem's
#68. Korean Beef Rib Sandwich at Kaffa
#67. Rice Flour Pupusas at Pupusería San Sivar
#66. The Hash Browns at Pop's Cafe
#65. Seven Courses of Beef at Thien An
#64. Baby Back Ribs at Blake's Place
#63. Fish and Chips at The Chippy
#62. Roasted Beef Marrow Bones at Brasserie Pascal
#61. The Lunch Buffet at Tandoor Cuisine of India
#60. Eggs, Charcuterie and Bread at Uyen Thy Bistro
#59. Wang Mandoo at Myung In
#58. Gobi Paratha at Traditions
#57. Kibbeh at Zait & Zaatar
#56. Chicago Dog at Portillo's
#55. Persian Buffet at Irvine's Wholesome Choice
#54. Anything at night at Joe's Italian Ice
#53. Salteñas at Rollie's Bakery
#52. Iskender Kabob at DonerG
#51. Secret Beer-Battered Fish Burrito at the OG Taco Adobe
#50. Bun Rieu at Kim Huong
#49. Truffle Fries at Andrei's
#48. Monday Night Pizza Special at Pizza Shack
#47. Corn Dog at Disneyland's The Little Red Wagon


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Franco's Pasta Cucina

2222 Michelson Drive, Irvine, CA

Category: Restaurant

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