Eat Here, Not There: Cheesecake
|Flickr user stacylynn|
Does it end in "actory"? I bet it does for most of you. So successful is the branding of the Cheesecake Factory that many people would be hard-pressed to name another restaurant that serves cheesecake.
Now, my uncles ran a cheesecake shop and deli in central New Jersey. I know what good cheesecake is, and I am going to lose some food snob points here by saying that the Cheesecake Factory actually makes pretty decent cheesecake. Junior's of Brooklyn it ain't, but you could do far, far worse. The enormous menu leading up to the cheesecake, however, all tastes vaguely similar and sugar seems to make its way into unexpected dishes.
|Flickr user 7202153@N03|
Fortunately, hidden on Katella between Five Guys and Ricardo's in the city of Orange is wonderful cheesecake that comes with much better food, better service and a much, much shorter wait--and, for those busy weekend evenings, they take reservations.
Mascarpone's is the date-night Italian restaurant of my New Jersey youth, transplanted to a nondescript professional building in Orange County. Dim lights, garlic bread, salad or soup to start and good old fashioned Italian-American cooking brought up a couple of notches. Some of the pasta is homemade; the tomato sauce smells exactly like its components (tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil and wine). In New Jersey it would be a BYOB with no corkage fee; in OC it's got a pretty credible wine list with a good Chianti by the glass.
|The cheesecake tastes just as good in the dark.|
Once you've sat, relaxed and been ministered to by waitstaff who have the time to be genuinely friendly, you won't want to face the thundering hordes at the Cheesecake Factory again anytime soon.
Mascarpone's, 1448 E. Katella Ave., Orange; (714) 633-0101; no website.
The Cheesecake Factory, OC locations in Anaheim, Brea, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Mission Viejo and Newport Beach; cheesecakefactory.com.