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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Restaurant Review: Piccolino- Mission Viejo

I love picking up the OC Metro at the bagel place or car wash. I usually flip to the food and dining section to see what they have to say. And that's where I found a write-up about Piccolino in Mission Viejo.

As the author pointed out, this restaurant couldn't be in a more random location. Piccolino is tucked under the wing of a Vons grocery store in a strip mall just off the 241 tollroad. Amongst the mish mash of stores and vanilla eateries is this authentic Italian ristorante; a hidden gem and a pleasant surprise. We ended up at Piccolino because the shabu shabu restaurant nearby was filled to capacity. While my boyfriend wanted to go elsewhere for Asian food, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to give Piccolino a try. And boy...were we both glad we did.

Since the Tortelloni de Zucca was so heavily complimented in the OC Metro article, I figured I better have it so I could see for myself. This dish did not disappoint. The pumpkin-filled tortelloni were rich in color and light on taste, and the amaretto crumbs on top were in perfect crunchy contrast to the silky marscapone sauce the tortellonis called home.
The filling tasted just like pumpkin pie, and the crumbs crackled. Topped with salty and nutty parmigiano reggiano cheese, each bite was slightly effervescent in contrast to the sweet pasta and sauce.

Jarrett opted for the Misto Piccolino, a sampling of their Italian appetizers. The caprese was delicious: milky, fresh mozzarella atop a slice of ruby red tomato, and the basil was one of the largest pieces I've seen in awhile. The misto also included grilled eggplant and calamari. There were other items too, but both Jarrett and I were more focused on my tortelloni (I begrudgingly gave him some).

Piccolino is warm, quaint, and well-staffed. The table next to use chatted on in Italian that we couldn't understand, but it only added to the ambiance and authenticity of our experience. Will we go back? Absolutely. And if the rest of the food on the menu is anything like the Tortelloni de Zucca, we will be back time and time again. I think others will start to seek out Piccolino and make it a regular stop on their Italian eatery circuit too. So, give it a try while reservations aren't'll be glad you did.

28731 Los Alisos Blvd., #3
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
(949) 380-7261

*Lunch from 11:30 a.m.- 2:15 p.m.
*Dinner from 4:30 p.m. - Close