ChabDog had the privilege of dining for lunch at Orlando’s Pizzeria in Redondo Beach. This is indeed a fine dining establishment, with some very delicious and satisfying pizza pies and much, much more. Today, ChabDog was treated to a memorable meal consisting of a caesar salad to start, followed by what may be Orlando’s signature dish, the Linguini Fruiti de Mer.
Before going into the details of the meal, a word about the host is in order. Orlando brings to his Redondo Beach restaurant 20 years plus experience as a cook/chef, having worked in Canada for his family restaurants in Montreal (both a pizzeria and a trattoria) and in his off hours spending numerous hours in the family kitchen helping hone and refine his impressive cooking skills. When I asked him about his cooking style, he seemed a bit surprised, if not taken aback, but what we concluded is that his food is a rather unique combination of Northern and Southern Italian cuisine, with a French flair.
For lunch, I started with a tasty Caesar salad. In terms of size, my portion was just right, and these side salads come with all of Orlando’s lunchtime sandwich offerings, which typically range in price from $9 to $16. The clincher here is the dressing, which really makes the lettuce and crunchy croutons come to life … it is a lovely mixture of chives, anchovies and capers and is made to order on the premises. I also loved the bacon bits that were sprinkled through; Orlando made sure to let me know this was actually deep fried prosciutto, and it definitely had nice crunch and deep flavor, which gave the veggies extra pizazz.
After the salad, it was time for the main attraction, a melt-in-your mouth bowl of linguine and seafood, garnished with the chef’s micro rainbow basil blend and dressed in a lovely white wine, tarragon butter sauce. The noodles were cooked to perfection, with exactly the right texture and consistency, and with each bite your palate is treated to plenty of garlic, sliced shallots and bits of succulent baby clam. In terms of the accompanying shellfish, I started with the larger clams, enjoyed the soft, juicy scallops, and then moved on to the flavorful, more spicy shrimp. My favorite part of the dish was the muscles, which seemed absorb, and then deliver, the full flavor of the white wine sauce, garlic and shallots, along with an unmistakable taste of the ocean that had me thinking about coming back for seconds…. and thirds. I should also add that all of the seafood tasted very fresh (Orlando confirmed he uses one of the top suppliers in the area for his Pacific Ocean produce). To sum things up, this is one of Orlando’s signature dishes, and at $20 for the lunch portion, it is well worth it!
I’m the first one to admit that I’m not much of a wine drinker, but I’d say that if you don’t have a glass of white wine with this dish (e.g. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay), you are missing something special. With my meal, Orlando poured me a glass of Canyon Road Chardonnay, and this was a perfect fit with the main course – cleansing my palate and making each successive bite of food that much more special. Orlando has a nice selection of other whites that would also go well with this entrée, including a Morgan Chardonnay and Santa Lucia Highlands, which are all priced at $13 a glass. And if you have your own favorite bottle that you’d like to bring with you to the restaurant, that’s fine with Orlando as well (note that $15 corkage fee). Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the homemade focaccia bread, which was warm and had the perfect topping of butter, garlic and parsley.
Needless to say, it was a pleasure having lunch with Orlando, and this writer will definitely be back for more. The restaurant is easy to find at the corner of Prospect and Torrance Blvd. in Redondo Beach, has hassle free parking, and features three wide screen TVs. It is also comfortable from an acoustics standpoint, features co-owner Carole Beauvais’ own colorful, uniquely engaging artwork (see www.carolebauvais.com), and is generally very pleasing to the eye (exceptionally clean, with plenty of comfortable seating and nicely spaced tables, along with an attractive bar area that separates the dining area from a spacious, well organized kitchen).