Orange Coast Magazine

Taste of O.C. | Priscilla Mayfield on food


Andrea, the elegant alta cucina Italian restaurant at the Resort at Pelican Hill, has a new chef, Puglia-born Luigi Fineo, whose youth—he’s 31—makes his deep cooking chops all the more impressive. His experience includes Drago Enoteca in Beverly Hills, Michelin-starred La Botte Ristorante in Santa Monica, stints at two Thomas Keller restaurants, the French Laundry and Bouchon Beverly Hills—all after working in multiple regions in Italy.

Fineo wouldn’t be the first chef to hone his attention to detail under the notoriously exacting Keller—but talking with him, you quickly get the feeling that under that affable exterior he’s plenty persnickety on his own; driving to the supplier in downtown Los Angeles to select his own white Piemontese truffles, picking through fresh Oregon porcini for only the choicest specimens, using Pennsylvania lamb because, well, it’s the best.

At a recent tasting of Andrea’s autumn menu, that lamb appeared in Sicilian Pistachio Pappardelle with Braised Lamb Ragù ($23), a dish Fineo developed after becoming intrigued by a lamb-pistachio dish he read about in an old cookbook. A whole, bone-in shoulder is braised overnight with aromatics and reduced red wine, which produces a dark, clear, intensely flavored stock and falling-apart lamb. The dough for the wide noodles includes ground pistachio, and a shower of the pale-green powder garnishes the finished dish, the toasted-nut richness combining with the lamb in an unexpectedly harmonious way. Servers offer fresh Parmigiano, and a little—only a little— is a nice touch.

The pistachio pappardelle, like all the pastas at Andrea, is made in-house. I was thrilled to get a peek into the famed temperature-controlled pasta room with its own filtered-water system. Fresh pasta is made there every day of the week, from extruded cut shapes like rigatoni and fusilli, to noodles of various widths, to filled pastas. An unusual and fantastically chewy cavatelli with ricotta in the dough, each dumpling-like shape pinched by hand, was served with a sauce of langoustine, chanterelles, and brown butter ($25), but I can imagine it with any number of simpatico sauces. Fineo’s repertoire even includes a gluten-free pasta, but more about that at a later date.

Leave a comment:

· Subscribe to comments
Be the first to comment here.

OC Guides


OC Guides
  • Best of 2014: Bird-Watching

    When the throngs of beachgoers are too much, spend a day with the birds. Here, with the wind whipping off the ocean and herons, egrets, ducks, and more soaring above, you'll get a chance to be the amateur ornithologist you never knew you wanted to be. Free
    3842 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, 714-846-1114,

    Read More
  • Best of 2014: Green Cleaners

    Sold from her website and a refitted retro travel trailer, these earth-safe cleaning products are Marilyn Nowak of Coto de Caza's propriety formulas. Products for laundry, surfaces such as glass and wood - even an ecological drain cleaner - all have dispenser bottles and bulk refills $8 to $48
    Resuming in September at Great Park Farmer's Market, Sand Canyon Avenue and Marine Way, Irvine, 949-292-1648,

    Read More
  • Food Lovers Guide - Vanilla

    Plain vanilla extract is fine for large-batch baking, but vanilla snobs like to play with other varieties, including the skinny, leathery beans. We won’t delve into the classic Mexican-versus-Tahitian debate, except to say we like Tahitian for creamy concoctions and the bolder Mexican in concert with dark chocolate. Find plump, vacuum-sealed beans of both varieties at Surfas Culinary District. Read More
  • Food Lovers Guide - Kouign Amann

    Butter worship is a birthright in Brittany—the French region that invented this transcendent caramelized pastry with the funny name (say Queen a-MAHN). Read More
  • Food Lovers Guide - Taps' Remy Beer

    Brewmaster Victor Novak and owner Joe Manzella fill a Heaven Hill bourbon barrel with Taps’ Imperial Russian Stout. After five months, the transformation of flavors is phenomenal, eliciting notes of coconut and marshmallow that flatter the inherent dark chocolate flavors of the stout. Read More
wine blog

stuff we love

Charitable Events Calendar