A few weeks ago I visited the Italian restaurant, Prego Ristorante located in Irvine, California for the first time. I was excited to check it out because I LOVE Italian food and it is a restaurant I had never visited before. Executive Chef Ugo Allesina had prepared for us a Spring Menu full of fresh seasonal varieties as the menu changes regularly. The dishes were carefully created for a light and fresh flavor.
“Most people automatically associate Italian cuisine with heavy pasta and cheese-filled dishes,” explained Chef Ugo, who recently introduced gluten-free pasta as a substitution for those with wheat allergies. “But Italian dishes can be very light and still full of flavor, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to showcase with my special springtime menu.”
It always makes me happy when a chef aims to please all of his customers by having gluten-free options, as I do have 2 people that are near and dear to me that are gluten intolerant and sometimes they have a hard time finding food they can eat when they are out. In addition to being tolerant of wheat allergies, it is also a positive when restaurants change up the menu to consistently to introduce new seasonal dishes. Also, with the ability to seat more than 250 guests, Prego features al fresco dining, full bar, banquet rooms and catering services.
I had always heard of Prego Ristorante because my husband works in the nearby vicinity, but usually when he gets home from work, we head to a different area since he is at work in the same area all day, but after having such a please experience at Prego, we will definitely be back! The warm charm of Italy and Mediterranean flare encompasses the atmosphere of Prego Ristorante with hardwood floors and cherry wood, which are the same materials and color we use in our own home. Needless to say, I felt very welcome and at home!
Something significant I would like to note about our experience at Prego was that I truly felt like I was treated like family. The owners, husband and wife team, Tony and Ruth Bedi definitely aim to please and Ugo Allesina, Executive Chef & Partner of Prego Ristorante brings more than 25 years of experience to his position. Chef Ugo Allesina was named “Chef of the Year” in 2013 by the Orange County Business Journal.
The owners and the chef were all so very attentive to my individual needs and they were so very friendly. Being at Prego was like visiting with family I had not seen for a long time. Chef Ugo is from the region of Piemonte, Italy and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him about his own country because I was there in 2003 & my husband and I are planning a 10 year wedding anniversary trip there next year!
Now onto the food…The menu emphasizes regional Italian cuisine, featuring authentic pizza baked in a wood-fired oven, freshly made pastas, grilled fresh fish, spit-roasted meats and fowl, and an extensive list of wines from Italy and California. In addition there are homemade desserts and pastries as well! (These are usually my favorites :))
The spring menu we tasted included a variety of Hors d’ oeuvres, such as charcuterie, cheeses, and bruschetta, but my personal favorite was the crostini smothered in smoked salmon and cream cheese! I am obsessed with anything smoked salmon and cream cheese, but I was quite impressed by the freshness and flavor of the delectable bites I sampled. These appetizers were paired with one of my favorite wines designed by Francis Ford Coppola. The wine is a nice light white that is sparkling called Blanc de Blancs. To read more about Francis Ford Coppola Wines, click here –> FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA WINES.
To start our meal we had a fresh Asparagi Delizia Salad wrapped in Parma Prosciutto, parmesan cheese and organic truffle oil and it was paired nicely with a La Moto Pinot Grigio, Veneto 2011. This salad was light and refreshing and I could easily order a large platter of this as my entrée. Yum!
The next item on the spring menu was the Risotto alla Sovazzese which contained Arborio rice, porcini mushrooms, fontina cheese and fresh herbs. This dish was delicious in flavor and rich and creamy in my mouth, yet still not too heavy because the sauce seemed lighter as it was not over salted. It was just perfect. This dish was paired with a Zorzon, Pinot Grigio Friufi Venezia Giufia 2011.
For the main course, we were served Cotechino e Lenticchie which was a homemade Italian Sausage with white wine, served on a bed of lentils and whole grain mustard sauce. While I am not a sausage fan myself, my husband and table mates seemed to enjoy this dish and were even more excited that they got to pick at mine.:) I did enjoy the lentils. This dish was paired with my favorite wine of the evening I had never tried before which was a red from Italy called, Elle Primitivo from Puglia and produced in 2010. I will be picking up this wine sometime soon! 🙂
For dessert we received Tronco ai Cioccolati, a puffed pastry filled with white and dark chocolate mousse and served with crème anglaise & raspberry sauce with a small cup of Patron xo café! This dessert and beverage paired quite nicely and I finished both of these items off with no question! The only thing I would request next time to add to my dish is a little bit more raspberry sauce, but that is just me…My favorite combination is chocolate and raspberry. 🙂
Be sure to also check out Prego’s Happy Hour that is served Monday thru Friday, 4:30 pm till 7:00 pm in the BAR area ONLY. There are some great food and drink specials, you do not want to miss…See more details here –> PREGO Happy Hour.
Please tell me your thoughts about Prego Ristorante if you have been there before and if you have not yet visited, I hope you get a chance to do so soon. Prego Ristorante has great food and a great atmosphere with friendly owners, chef and staff. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there with my friends and I know you will too!
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