aguna Niguel’s chic late arrival came close to not making our list as it was spanking new, and reservations weren’t functioning in those early weeks. Waiting for the door to unlock was the only gambit that worked. Once inside, it was clear the team behind Pizzeria Angelina spared nothing to transform the former Savannah Chop House into a stunner. Ceilings soar to striking heights. Endless windows bring forward the 180-degree coastal view. And there’s a vast patio scattered with umbrella tables. Tiny tables hugging the ocean blue banquette are cramped. But they’re bookended by the fire-breathing pizza oven counter, and the grand freestanding marble bar, each with more comfortable seating. Concise and still adjusting, the menus tempt with lunch sandwiches, house-made pastas, and roasted meats. All the Angelina pizzas are here, and we know them well by now. Sophisticated cocktails and fresh pastas supply some thrills from the menu’s first draft. The bourbon Lupollo with strawberry lambic foam is novel. House gnocchi with pato negra ragù is luxurious and priced that way. Sizzling grilled lamb chops make a lovely spring entree.
32441 Golden Lantern, Laguna Niguel 949-542-8220