Ah! There's nothing like a sunny, hot day at the beach to start one's Orange County odyssey. And when in Orange County, do as the Orange Countians do... Which is to "lunch" in style on PCH!
And that I did at Cafe Mezzaluna in Dana Point. It's right off Pacific Coast Highway in Monarch Beach, just across the street from The Ritz-Carlton and Salt Creek Beach. But for such a tony 'hood, the prices were pretty low.
However, the quality of the food wasn't. I ordered ravioli alla vodka, and I got house made pasta stuffed with ricotta and herbs, then topped with tomato sauce spiked with vodka and a touch of cream. The dish had a good balance of tang, spice, and creaminess. It felt like just the right dish to order on a hot, sunny beach day.
And along with the ravioli came a basket of garlic bread. It was like the garlic bread that comes with delivery pizza, only done with real garlic and parmesan, and baked fresh on site. I'm usually not crazy for this kind of "garlic bread", but this was good stuff and I couldn't stop dipping it into the excess tomato vodka sauce. So far, so good.
Since I had worked up an appetite with all my morning beach excursions, and I was about to do more at Salt Creek, I treated myself to dessert. Their New York Cheesecake tasted as authentic as one from an Orange County Cal-Ital ("California style Italian", that is) joint can get away with serving. It was rich and sweet, but still had that nice cream cheese tang, and it was more than light enough to keep me from getting an upset tummy.
All in all, I had a lovely lunch at this pleasant Monarch Beach hideaway. It reminded me of the many things I miss about Orange County, such as the pristine beaches, relaxing sea breezes, and quaint holes in the wall serving good grub that won't bankrupt me. It's not that often I get to enjoy any of that back home in Vegas.
Style: Beach Casual Cal-Ital
Open: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Food: 4.6 (out of 5)
Service: 3.0 (out of 3)
Ambiance: 1.9 (out of 2)
Overall: 9.5 (out of 10)
Very Satisfying Good Grub