A new Italian dining spot has arrived in South Coast Plaza. Casa Barilla, a classic hot spot in NYC, LA, and even Dubai has opened their first location in Orange County! The Orange County Casa Barilla is a 2,600 square foot slot located close to the Sears and Forever 21 stores on the first floor of the South Coast Plaza Mall and has seating for about 70 people. Casa Barilla uses all fresh ingredients and each meal is prepared fresh when ordered. The kitchen is open and you can watch the chefs as they cook or get cozy at a table while waiting for your order to be served. The restaurant has a variety of selections including dozens of different pastas daily, fresh salads, panini sandwiches, Italian style pizzas, desserts, and they even serve “colazione” (breakfast in Italian). 😊
When we entered Casa Barilla, we were dining on a Sunday around 5pm. Note, everyday Casa Barilla is open on until 9pm, except for on Sundays, they close at 6:30. We were excited to see what they had to offer and the manager, Erin not only gave us amazing service, but also selected our dishes for us. We simply asked her to bring us her classic favorites and we would roll with it. Erin definitely had great taste, because it seemed like our meal was almost everything we would have personally selected!
When the dishes quickly began to arrive at our table, we could see the love and care put into the preparation of Executive Chef Alfonso Sanna’s dishes. We could taste Italy in the food, as we have been to the country three times and we are aware of what Italian food is and what “American Italian” food is.
“This is the lifestyle we were raised on,” says Barilla’s Executive Chef Alfonso Sanna, who has cooked professionally for more than thirty years in both Italy and the United States. “The Italian way of eating is one of the healthiest in the world.”
Our first dish that arrived at our table was the Rigatoni Montanara. This dish was made with roasted chicken, mushrooms, and cream sauce. This was one of my classic favorites as a small child as I always would only order cream sauce chicken and mushrooms. The flavors of this dish each stood out and it was a lovely preparation.
The next dish we had was the Orecchiette Pugliesi, which is a pasta dish prepared with Italian sausage, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and pecorino cheese. While I am not a sausage person (it is one of my husband’s favorites) I did love the flavors of this dish as the sauce was a very subtle olive oil blended with pecorino cheese. I enjoyed the orecchiette pasta and veggies as well.
I was excited for the Margherita Pizza as it is always a classic favorite of mine when I go to an Italian restaurant. Prepared with tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil, it is very simple, yet delicious. This pizza reminded me of ones I have had in Rome. The thin crust and lovely blend of flavor made me crave another trip to Italy.
The other pizza that Erin brought to our table was the Nobile. With a unique blend of Prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella, blue cheese, arugula, and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, this pizza definitely stood out to us. It was like having a salad on a pizza and it was quite tasty. When we warmed up our leftovers the next day, we actually ended up cooking the arugula and it tasted lovely that way as well!
The last dish on our table was a healthy salad, called the Insalatona Al Salmone. This salad came with Mesculin greens, cannellini and bortolotti beans, and fresh salmon. The salmon was cooked perfectly and while my hubby always talks about how he will not order salmon at a restaurant because he believes he cooks it perfectly at home, he was even impressed! This salad along with a fresh squeeze of lemon atop was delicious and I would order this dish again for both lunch and dinner!
For dessert, Erin brought two delicacies to our table, which were the Caramel Panna Cotta made with Dairy vanilla pudding with caramel sauce topping and the New York Cheesecake with strawberries! We loved our dessert and even though we had a large variety of leftover pasta and pizza from dinner to take home, we cleaned the dessert plates off in several minutes. They were both delicious, but the winner for me of the two was definitely the caramel panna cotta. It was smooth, creamy and delicious!
Barilla, established in 1877 is an Italian family-owned food company and a world leader in the market of pasta. With 140 years of experience in the food industry, Barilla has for many generations provided good food that is good for people and good for the planet. I would definitely recommend Casa Barilla and I do plan to visit once again when I am on one of my shopping adventures in the South Coast Plaza mall! I look forward to trying the paninis and the breakfast menu as well! Casa Barilla has delicious, authentic Italian cuisine and I cannot wait to head back again soon for more! Casa Barilla is located at Sears Wing, Level 1, South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol Street in Costa Mesa, California. Have you ever been to Casa Barilla? What are your favorite dishes? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.