Tag Archives: cucina enoteca

An Ode to the Martini

I definitely was not always a martini drinker.  In college my drink of choice was something mixed and definitely left me with a headache the next day.  As I got older (and wiser) my tastes shifted to more simplistic drinks such as a nice glass of wine, vodka mixed with club soda and a craft beer.  Then somewhere down the line my love affair with the martini began.

My ultimate favorite martini is a dirty martini with blue cheese olives, but I also love other kinds of martinis as long as they have minimal ingredients, aren’t overly sweet and made with good vodka.  Yep, I’m a vodka martini kind of girl.

So without further adieu, I give you some of my personal favorite martinis.

Lola’s Lemon Drop Martini:

I’d like to think Lola’s in Los Angeles first sparked my love for the martini as they haves such a wide variety to choose from!  The lemon drop has subtle sweetness and a bit of a sour punch too.  If you want a little bit of sweet but not too overpowering, this martini is for you.

Houston’s Dirty Martini:

The dirty martini at Houston’s would be 100% perfection if it was made with blue cheese stuffed olives.  But regardless, this martini is pretty good if you ask me.  Very tempting to order more than 1 of these at a time.

Paul Martin’s “Effen Vodka” Martini:

I always get the effen vodka martini at Paul Martin’s American Grill and it is always as good as I remember.  Shaken vodka over ice with three olives.  Simple and smooth.  If you do not like the taste of vodka, I do not recommend this martini.

Cucina Enoteca’s Ginger Pear Martini:

Cucina Enoteca has special infusion drinks that you can have in any form – on the rocks, mixed, martini, etc.  I tried their ginger pear infusion as a martini and it was delicious.  I loved the pear slices in the martini along with the tiny bits of clove.  It’s definitely a more unique take on the traditional martini.

The ROCK’N Tini at Rock’N Fish:

This unique martini at Rock’N Fish Laguna Beach is infused with agave syrup and guava nectar.  I really enjoy this martini because it isn’t overly sweet, has a nice fruity taste and is a lovely shade of pink (because clearly that is what matters most).

And those are my current favorite martinis of the moment, but I’m still on the quest for the perfect dirty martini.  Any suggestions?

OC Restaurant Week Spotlight: Cucina Enoteca

We are officially another week closer to OC Restaurant Week, which means it’s time for another OC Restaurant Week Spotlight.  Be sure to look at previous posts to learn about Pizzeria Ortica and Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille.  This time the spotlight is shining on Cucina Enoteca.

Cucina Enoteca is one of the new restaurants to open at the Irvine Spectrum, and it has already made quite a splash.  From offering weekly specials to “Social Saturdays” and unique pizzas, the restaurant is definitely making it’s mark.

For OC Restaurant Week the restaurant is offering 4 different menus to choose from, depending on how much you feel like spending.  This is a great concept because if you aren’t feeling like a heavy meal, you can choose a lighter option at a cheaper price.

On the lunch front, you can choose a soup or salad with a panini or pizza for only $15, or if you want something a little heartier, you can get a soup or salad and one of the dinner entrees for only $20!  Either way, lunch is definitely a steal.

For dinner, the same concept applies.  Choose an appetizer, pizza and dessert for $25, or choose an appetizer, entree and dessert for $30.  For dinner, I highly recommend the pear and gorgonzola pizza or the jidori chicken.  Both are excellent dishes.

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

There are 3 dessert options to choose from on the dinner menu, but the favorite of this bunch is definitely the zeppole, aka Italian fried doughnuts.  You can see the entire restaurant menu over on the OC Restaurant Week’s website.


Cucina Enoteca is a definite must stop this year for OC Restaurant Week.  Whether you go with a pizza and salad or try an entree and one of their tasty appetizers, you are bound to have a delicious meal.

*OC Restaurant Week runs from February 26th-March 3rd.  Check out all the participating restaurants at OCRestaurantWeek.com*

CUCINA enoteca hits the mark in Irvine

A couple of months ago I wrote about the awesomeness that was Paul Martin’s American Grill at the Irvine Spectrum.  Well, it looks like the spectrum is now 2 for 2 because CUCINA enoteca was just as delicious and delightful as Paul Martin’s.

CUCINA enoteca is the sister restaurant to CUCINA urbana, located in San Diego.  The restaurant describes itself as a “Modern Italian kitchen with the rustic feel of a country farmhouse and a taste of bohemia.”  It may sound like a mouthful, but when you step inside CUCINA enoteca, you know it’s not your standard run of the mill chain Italian restaurant.

One of my good friends from Reno was in town (hi Sky!) so he, the Englishman and I decided to check out CUCINA enoteca on a balmy weekday evening.  The weather was so warm in fact, that we opted to sit on the heated patio and people watch while enjoying our dinner.

Since it was a work night, I opted for one of CUCINA’s mocktails as a starter (the cocktails on the menu looked pretty awesome too and I WILL be trying one of those soon).

I don’t remember the exact name of my mocktail (bad blogger) but it had strawberries, agave nectar, mint, and soda.  It was light and refreshing and just what I wanted.  For a “starter” we decided to try out the truffle parmesan fries.

These fries were light and crispy, covered in truffle oil and parmesan cheese, and were dangerously good.  They also came with house made ketchup which made me happy since I knew it was free of any artificial ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup.  The three of us pretty much devoured the fries in about 5 minutes.

Once we finished our fry feast, we decided to split two pizzas:  the pear + gorgonzola and the speck + pineapple after it was determined what speck was (it’s ham in case you were wondering).  First up was the pear + gorgonzola.

I am a big pear and gorgonzola fan, so I knew I would like this pizza.  And like it I did.  It was topped with toasted pecans, carmelized onions and arugula.  The cheese was melty and gooey and I loved the pecan crunch.

Our second pizza was the speck + pineapple which was also quite good and had a bit of a kick because there were serrano chillies in the sauce.  I was pretty much obsessed with the pear + gorgonzola pizza so the boys dominated the speck + pineapple.

After all this food you would think we would be full, but oh no, there was still dessert to be had.  Zeppole it was!  Zeppole is Italian Doughnut holes and yes they are just as delicious as you would think.

The Zeppole came with chocolate chili and blueberry tarragon dipping sauces and both were the perfect complement to the lightly fried doughnut holes dusted with sugar.  This dessert was recommended by our waitress and I can see why.  It’s definitely a crowd pleaser.

Our meal at CUCINA enoteca was definitely one of the better meals I’ve had in a while.  The pizzas were cooked to perfection, the fries were stupid good, and of course the Zeppole was just a perfect way to round out the meal.  I’d definitely like to come back and try some of their drinks, pastas, and other weekly specials such as “Wild Wednesday” which is a burger and Moretti beer or “Meatball Monday” which means all meatballs are half off.

Grazie per il buon alimento CUCINA enoteca!

CUCINA enoteca

31 Fortune Drive

Irvine, CA 92618