CUCINA enoteca

Part of the Urban Kitchen Group family of restaurants, CUCINA enoteca is a modern kitchen focused on creating dishes that bring together the seasonal bounty of Southern California.  We recommend the beet & citrus salad, along with the squid ink linguini. The tasty salad consists of grapefruit, pickled kumquat, mâche, chili granola and labneh. The squid ink linguini is lovingly crafted with muscles, clams, shrimp, fennel soffritto and arrabbiata. As someone who’s not a huge seafood eater, the squid pasta makes me rethink my food preferences because of how delicious all of this seafood is when put together. 532 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine. Michael Cooper

Kobe Meatballs (Courtesy of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse)

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse

The menu at Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse is inspired from Northern Italian cuisine and includes handmade pasta, seafood and, of course, steak. Favorites include the $100 meatball, which is made of American Kobe Wagyu beef, black truffles and a molten center of truffle cheese and faux gras. It’s then topped with a champagne cream sauce and more shaved black truffles, and served with a glass of Barolo. If meatballs aren’t your thing, go for the crab cake. It’s one of Davio’s signature dishes, consisting of lump crab cake that’s oven baked and topped off with a whole grain mustard sauce. 18420 Von Karman Ave. #100, Irvine. Michael Cooper

Angelina’s

A little slice of authentic Naples has found a home in the middle of Irvine. Indeed, Angelina’s Pizzeria in the Los Olivos Marketplace has gone out of its way to provide genuine and delicious Italian fare beyond just pizzas. The establishment is Vera Pizza Napoletana (which translates to Traditional Naples Pizza), or VPN, certified, which means their pizza has met a set of rigorous and delicious standards. Try the vegetariana, a white pizza where the dough and cheese melt in your mouth. Complete with roasted bell peppers, eggplant, onion, mushrooms and basil, it’s the Buffalo mozzarella cooked Napoletana-style combined with the soft crust that really makes this pizza stand out. 8573 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine. Michael Cooper

Margherita pizza (Courtesy of North Italia)

North Italia

North Italia, the modern Italian concept from restaurateur Sam Fox, has locations in Santa Monica, El Segundo and Irvine. Their variety of pizzas is surely a highlight of the menu. The restaurant makes pizza dough twice daily, and also has gluten-free crust options. Other highlights include the white truffle garlic bread and chicken parmesan. 2957 Michelson Drive, Irvine. Susan Hornik