North Italia is a chain that started in Arizona. They have locations in Colorado, Kansas, Texas, and now in California with one location in El Segundo, and their newest location opened on Monday, December 21 in Irvine, off Jamboree and the 405 freeway, just south of John Wayne Airport. The location is where the CPK used to be, just across the parking lot from Mother’s Market and Ruth Chris.
I was invited to a sneak peek and try their weekend brunch menu. When I walked in, I noticed that it was a very open restaurant with windows everywhere. The bar area has large, communal style tables, and their kitchen has a large window so you can see what’s going on. On a nice day, you can dine outside in their wrap around heated patio.
The brunch menu has the breakfast items and a more lighter fare of food compared to their heavier dinner menu. For the sneak peek, we were asked to share a starter, try an entree, and share a dessert. Prices range from $11 -$22, which seemed very reasonable.
For the starter, we chose the Chef’s Board ($18) which was enough for 2-3 people. I could have just eaten this for lunch, and skip my entree.
For our entree, we decided on the house made pastas: the Short Rib Radiatori ($21) for me, the Bolognese ($19) for Stephen. My pasta was cream based, while Stephen’s was tomato based, and both delicious. Portions are very generous and easily shareable items. I was disappointed that bread wasn’t offered, as I could have sopped up the sauce with it.
We ended our meal with dessert and coffee, which came in latte sized cups. We decided on the Olive Oil cake, which is a cake made with semolina instead of flour. It was a nice dense cake, very flavorful and a great bite to end our meal.
Overall, it was a excellent meal. The portions are generous, and next time I plan on sharing 2 dishes, perhaps a pizza and pasta. Parking may be the biggest obstacle, but there is a parking garage located across the street behind the gym or, valet parking for $6.