Get Your Pasta Fix at Casa Barilla, Costa Mesa
With more and more Italian restaurants opening in Los Angeles, I felt like I had to explore the laid-back suburban sprawl of Orange County and see what it has to offer. That is what made me try Casa Barilla in Costa Mesa, the new signature restaurant by Barilla, the most famous Italian pasta producer, and I loved it!
Where there is Barilla, there is home, says a famous Italian commercial, and there is a reason for that: most Italians still consume pasta and bakery products by this old Italian producer. With a story that lies on the flat lands of Emilia-Romagna, the North-Eastern Italian region that gave us ragù alla bolognese, Barilla has produced pasta since 1877. At the beginning just a small bakery in Parma, Barilla is now known around the world for the blue-packaged pasta that you’ve certainly tried at least once.
After having opened three locations in New York, it is now the turn of the West Coast and its vibrant food scenery to welcome Casa Barilla, i.e. “Barilla Home” in Italian. Recently inaugurated at the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Casa Barilla serves Italian quintessential dishes such as pizza, pasta and panini. And if Downtown LA is more convenient to you, another location has just opened on the USC campus.
An Italian favorite opens in Costa Mesa
As an Italian, I could not wait to try out this place, craving for a dish of pasta “al dente”, which is still surprisingly difficult to find in Orange County. As soon as I got inside, I ordered at the front register, then just walked inside and enjoyed the flavors coming from the open kitchen. The wood tables and the various glass cabinets filled with different shapes of pasta really gave that rusting feeling to the place.
The menu at Casa Barilla features traditional Italian dishes together with some Italian-American favorites, which makes it possible for everyone to enjoy Italian classics, while at the same time giving the chance to try dishes such as Spaghetti and Meatballs, made with quality ingredients and a real Italian expertise. This is an upscale fast casual restaurant, so the prices are lower than the average for the area.
Being Barilla famous for pasta and bakery products, the menu focuses on a selection of pasta dishes, panini and pizzas. Sorry, no meat, but you will find a few soups and salads as well.
What’s good at Casa Barilla, Costa Mesa
I tried the Panzanella Salad, with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, goat cheese, sweet onion and balsamic dressing ($9.50). A nice way to start a meal with some fresh vegetables and goat cheese. A classic of the Mediterranean diet, simple, good and fresh, but it did not grabbed my attention.
A few minutes after getting inside, I saw the chef taking some pizza out of the oven. I could not resist trying it, so I ordered the Pizza Nobile, literally the “noble pizza”. With Prosciutto di Parma D.O.P. cut in paper-thin slices that literally melt in your mouth, fresh mozzarella, arugula, cherry tomatoes on a crunchy thin crust, this pizza was simply delicious! Having the pizza served on a cutting board added some of that homemade feeling to a dish that I really enjoyed.
After that, I tried the Lasagna, with meat sauce and béchamel sauce ($11.50). Slightly cheesier than the original and with the added tomato sauce on the side, the Lasagna surprised me with a great texture and crunchiness. Definitely worth a shot if you love Lasagna as much as I do.
I then tried the king of every pasta recipe: Spaghetti al Pomodoro, spaghetti with tomato sauce ($8.95). The quality of the pasta really came out here together with a perfect consistency. With a generous pinch of parmigiano cheese on top, the bright tomato sauce makes it a great choice for those of you who want to try a simple and light pasta dish.
RELATED: What’s special about Scottt Conant’s spaghetti al pomodoro?
After these (yes, I managed to eat something more!), I tried the Vegetarian Focaccia ($7.95), stuffed with seasonal vegetables, bell peppers, onion and olive tapenade, that, even though not strictly Italian, was surely delicious.
I could not have called it a lunch without a couple of classic Italian desserts. I had a Tiramisu that tasted a bit too much of mascarpone instead of coffee, and a Pannacotta al Caramello, which I strongly recommend ($5.50).
To top everything off, an espresso, made with Lavazza coffee, an Italian favorite, with a great aroma and the characteristic crema of a nicely brewed coffee.
Casa Barilla is where you can get your pasta fix in Costa Mesa
Overall, the experience I had at Casa Barilla Costa Mesa has been very good. The staff was very knowledgeable and I really enjoyed the location, the open kitchen and the attention to details. Importantly, many dishes are available with a gluten free or whole grain option.
Therefore, if you want to enjoy a quick and tasty dish of pasta, or simply have a sweet treat and a coffee in between your crazy shopping, I can assure you that this is the place to go!
This review of Casa Barilla Costa Mesa is based on a complimentary meal. Photos by Adriano Piazza for Foodiamo. All rights reserved.
CASA BARILLA, COSTA MESA
Where: 3333 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
When: Mon-Fri, 11am-9pm; Sat, 11am-8pm; Sun, 11am-6:30pm
Phone: (657) 205-1025