When even gastropubs offer arancini, you know the deep-fried, cheese-stuffed rice balls are here to stay. Arancini means little oranges, but there’s nothing orange about them, though chefs do like to add their own touches.
Brunos Italian Kitchen
Prosciutto bits, mozzarella, mixed herbs, and a little sauce mixed into the arborio rice combine to elevate Brunos’ arancini, making them our favorites. $9. 210 W. Birch St., Brea, 714‑257‑1000, brunosbrea.com
Meaty chopped mushrooms and scamorza cheese add umami flavor to these fat, crisp arancini that arrive in an iron casserole hot from the oven. Cut into them and molten cheese flows like lava into the accompanying sauce. $11. 2957 Michelson Drive, Irvine, 949-629-7060, northitaliarestaurant.com
Eight mini-rice balls rest in a luscious tomato sauce, but they’re more about the oozing cheese than the rice. Order a side of Nancy Silverton’s country white bread to mop it all up. $9. 800 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 949-945-1126, pizzeriamozza.com