Best New Restaurants 2020: Bello By Sandro Nardone Showcases Progressive Italian Cusine

Crispy octopus with rapini and a vinaigrette inspired by the flavors of Southern Italy; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Most chefs don’t have the nerve to fly solo. Sandro Nardone can’t have it any other way. Maybe you’ve sampled his upmarket pizza and wood-oven fare at Dana Point’s Angelina’s. Once he seized a sprawling spot in Newport Beach, he undertook a molto moderno Italiano overhaul worthy of his name and progressive cuisine.

Nardone revels in dishes you could find in Milan’s chicest spots. Unfamiliar creations—mortadella mousse cannoli with liquid pineapple mustard, and veal tongue with grilled shallots and parsley—reveal his forward style. You’ll find a juicy ribeye or delicate branzino as well. Pasta alla Norcina deserves its bestseller status. Crispy octopus with Calabrian vinaigrette is another crowd fave.

Frank de Loach, the rising local talent from Early Bird and Playground, is also in this kitchen. Cocktails show imagination, but it’s hard to ignore a wine list offering Timorosso, a rediscovered grape that’s the darling of Italy’s top somms. Bold artwork, crisp angles, and the bar’s statement mural lend an urban edge we rarely feel in O.C. Just launched, Lento o Veloce (fast or slow) lunch service for diners either in a rush or with time to spare.

Bello was a Blockbuster video rental store.

1200 Bison Ave, Newport Beach, 949-520-7191


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