Located right next to the ocean in the heart of Laguna Beach, Romeo Cucina brings authentic Italian flavors to the United States. Started by Chef Antonio Romeo in 1991, who trained in Italy, the restaurant is family owned and operated. I found this place through connecting with one of the family members, Marisol, on Instagram. She’s always whipping up the best bites and posting it on her story (you can see for yourself). We started messaging each other and she mentioned her brother-in-law’s restaurant, Romeo Cucina. After looking at THEIR Instagram page, I decided instantly to make a trip to Laguna. Plus, Italian food is my favorite cuisine!
The restaurant was surprisingly spacious and packed with hungry diners that were about to feast on made-from-scratch Italian dishes. I was greeted excitedly and warmly by Marisol, Chef Antonio and the entire staff. I love that their entire restaurant is run by their Italian family and it makes it that much more authentic. I knew it was going to be a fantastic night when the bread basket came out and with an olive tapenade spread (yes please).
The Panzanella Calabrese was a light and refreshing way to start our dinner. Completely gluten-free, the tomatoes were incredibly fresh and the home-made Polenta croutons were warm and absolutely delicious.
The next was the Arancini di Riso (fried risotto meat balls) and something I’ve never had before. My mouth is watering just thinking about it now. Marisol explained this was a southern Italian dish. A round, golden and crispy risotto exterior with a scrumptious bolognese and mozzarella fill at the center..heavenly. I could eat this as an afternoon snack by itself, with a nice glass of Pinot Noir. I wanted this all to myself, I guess I’m going to have to order an entire plate next time (haha).
Entrées, like their handmade pastas Panzarotti D’Aragosta and Tortelloni di Carne, are a reminder of just how seductive authenticity can be. The Tortelloni di Carne was a hearty pasta, oozing with richly braised meat inside and covered in homemade pesto–YUM!
The Panzarotti D’Aragosta was a homemade panzarotti filled with lobster and crab, topped with this creamy and rich pink whiskey sauce. I would pair these with a Pinot Noir or a glass of Rioja.
Romeo Cucina exceeded my expectations with their staff, food, and ambience. The Arancini di Riso was ridiculous and I wanted to stuff 50 of those balls of heaven in my purse. Make sure to stop by when you’re visiting Laguna Beach and say hi to Marisol for me. For more information, go here and the menu here.
Quick tip: Go with a friend or a group so you can go family-style and try all the amazing dishes! Each are quite filling but you’d want to try a variety, trust me.