We always have the same jam on repeat, “It’s so hard to find good Italian food in Orange County.” This was our running dialogue until we came across Luna Rossa inside The District in Tustin. A nice indoor/outdoor space with lots of natural lighting and a burning fireplace which makes a lovely backdrop for tasting some of their most popular dishes….and of course for some eye-catching insta-photos.
We started off wetting our palate with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc which we sipped while salivating over the dinner menu like a we were reading a steamy romance novel.
The appetizers are too tasty to get just one so we dived into the Carpaccio di Bue – a delectable round of thinly sliced raw beef served with lemon, oil dressing, caper and shaved parmesan. Then, there was no stopping us from gluttony as we devoured the Crostini della Tradizione – four toasted crispy breads topped with melted mozzarella, Italian prosciutto, butter and sage. The crostini is one of those dishes if you only have a short time between now and the movie you need to catch at the AMC Theaters next door, then this is the dish we recommend for a quick and filling bite with a nice glass of wine. It was so tasty and the flavor profile so unique – that it had our palates dancing until the very end of the meal.
The staff at Luna Rossa is so gracious and attentive, not to mention very personable and passionate about food. We like that and it made our meal so much more enjoyable. We were seated outdoors on a cool summer day in front of the fireplace that made us feel far away from the mall vibe. Luna Rossa is very much in a world of its own – just like Italy.
The dinner menu features all your favorite kinds of pasta and then some. All the pastas are fresh, made homemade from scratch, just like Italy. They even often the option of gluten-free pasta. One of the most popular dishes (and longest name) on the menu is the Tortellacci Ripeni di Brasato di Manzo al Tartufo Nero. What? Oh! Of course! It’s tortellacci filled with red wine braised beef short ribs and shaved black truffle in alfredo sauce. Yes, it is just as amazing as it sounds!
For our other pasta choice we decided to go with an old favorite – Spaghetti Carbonara. The pasta was cooked to al dente perfection with large bites of tasty pancetta, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and large, flakes of black pepper. We really couldn’t have dreamed up a better version of this classic dish.
Another thing you must try at Luna Rossa is the pizza. The pizza and all ingredients are made fresh, in-house and baked inside an authentic wood-burning oven. The pizza menu was way too tempting to choose just one so we had our server surprise us with one of his favorites – the classic Margherita Pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil. If we had a long mustache we would twirl it and say “magnifique!”. The pizza is oozing cheese with hearty slices of tomato and basil so fresh as if they just picked it out of the garden! The flavors were simple but divine!
Luna Rossa is inside The District in Tustin adjacent to the AMC movie theater. They feature a Monday – Friday happy hour from 4pm-6pm with food and beer and wine specials.
In addition to the dishes we devoured above, here are a few we can’t wait to try on our next visit.
- Appetizers: baked eggplant with tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella and parmesan cheese AND grilled salmon salad with potatoes, baby lettuce, green beans, cherry tomatoes with lemon and rice vinegar dressing.
- Pasta: spaghetti pasta in a creamy, basil pesto sauce AND angel hair pasta with calamari, garlic and mild spicy tomato sauce.
- More pasta: jumbo lobster ravioli in pink vodka sauce AND chicken filled tortellini with alfredo sauce, mushroom, and green peas.
- Risotto: an Italian arborio rice with shrimp & shallots in a creamy pink vodka sauce.
- Main Course: grilled lamb chops with rosemary garlic white wine sauce, served with potatoes and vegetables.