Adding to the growing culinary scene that can be found in and around Newport Beach, BELLO by Sandro Nardone is set to debut with dinner service on Monday, November 18 (1200 Bison, at MacArthur). The restaurant, which will add lunch and brunch service in the weeks following its opening, will feature Chef Sandro’s menu, a combination of traditional authentic Italian food and modern dishes in a style similar to that served at the top restaurants in Italy.
“We all think we know Italian food. The truth is that the dishes that many consider ‘Italian’ were invented in America. You won’t find Italians in Italy eating Chicken Parmesan or Spaghetti and Meatballs,” comments Chef Sandro, who has gained a following in Orange County after opening Angelina’s Pizzeria in Dana Point nearly a decade ago. “My goal at BELLO is to share the traditional foods of Italy as well as versions in a modern form like those served at top restaurants in Italy.”
TRADITIONAL + MODERN
BELLO’s menu will revolve around the very best ingredients and simplicity, the two guiding principles that have always been the foundation of traditional Italian cuisine. Chef Sandro will utilize each season’s finest, freshest and most flavorful ingredients available, whether from land or sea, paying particular attention to each ingredient and how it complements the others in a dish.
“The idea behind modern Italian food is to take the classic Italian sensibilities of utilizing great seasonal ingredients and focusing on simplicity, and using them to create new dishes,” explained Chef Sandro. “In presenting modern dishes like they are made in Italy, we bring a true sense of authenticity to Italian dining in Orange County.”
The menu begins with an impressive selection of starters that set the tone for the guest and begin to frame the culinary journey that they are experiencing. Chef Sandro’s Mortadella Mousse Cannoli features liquid pineapple mostarda, Veal Tongue with grilled shallots and parsley, and Lobster is served with passion fruit, cherry tomatoes and pickled onions.
The use of non-traditional ingredients with house-made pastas makes for memorable dishes. The creativity comes through in Chef Sandro’s Gnocchetti Sardi which features a classic pomodoro sauce but is topped with a tartare of Bluefin Tuna; Espresso Pasta with sea urchin cream and peperoncino; and Paccheri with chestnut cream and porcini mushrooms.
Entrees feature a beautifully prepared Osso Buco with veal shank over polenta with braised Treviso, and Branzino in fish stock, tomatoes, garlic and peperoncino. Guests have the option to indulge in Pork Chop or Ribeye Steak, as well as Fritto Misto with shrimp, zucchini, artichoke and calamari.
BELLO is also committed to serving a range of spectacular vegan and vegetarian dishes. “If vegans and vegetarians come to my restaurant, I want them to eat as well as guests who are eating meat and fish; anything else is unacceptable” explained Chef Sandro. Options will include Arcimboldo, with perfectly cooked seasonal vegetables and heirloom beans, pasta pomodoro with 3 textures as well as seasonal vegetable appetizers like Kubocha squash prepared with 3 techniques.
Dessert allows guests to end their meal with Pane E Nutella, featuring a Nutella foam; Zeppole with mascarpone cream and apricot puree; and a Terrine of seasonal citrus fruits.
RAISING THE BAR
BELLO presents a dynamic bar program featuring seasonal craft cocktails with an Italian twist. Bellinis with seasonal fruit will complement the bar’s more complex cocktails, including Il Bello with Campari, Vermouth, blood orange juice and egg whites; and la Dolce Armata with Rye, cream sherry and plum shrub.
“I am taking the same approach to the bar as I am in our kitchen – fresh ingredients and pronounced flavors are key,” explains Chef Sandro. “We will be making as much as we can in-house to elevate the bar program and really highlight the unique elements of Italian cocktails.”
BELLO will strive to present one of the best Italian wine lists in Southern California. In addition to well known favorite Super Tuscans, Brunellos and Barolos, BELLO intends to focus on smaller artisanal wineries from different regions in Italy.
“Everyone knows the most famous names in Italian wine, and those wines are, of course, fantastic,” Chef Sandro explains. “But there are many smaller, less well known producers that are just as good and we hope to introduce them to our guests.”
BELLO will be partnering with several wine importers, including Master of Wine Peter Koff, who is importing several wines exclusively for the restaurant.
Born in a small town located between Rome and Naples, Chef Sandro comes from Atina, Italy, where he was raised in a family of chefs. From an early age, he adopted food as his passion as his parents ran a small chain of restaurants, with his mother, Giovanna, as chef. She hand made charcuterie from pigs raised by one of his aunts, produced her own olive oil from his family’s olive trees, and her polenta was so famous that the most important politician in Rome would visit the house to eat it. His aunt, Adelina , made the best Scamorza cheese in Italy – Pope John Paul II was one of her loyal customers.
Chef Sandro studied cooking in Italy and went on to work at several restaurants, including the famous Al Mulino outside of Rome. He spent every penny that he earned eating at the most innovative restaurants in Italy to learn more about modern Italian food.
In 2012, he came to the United States and founded Angelina’s Pizzeria in Dana Point. He was quickly recognized as having some of the best brick oven pizza in Orange County, but the size of his kitchen limited his menu offerings and so he would have to wait to present his unique cuisine. After years of developing his menu and fine-tuning ideas, Chef Sandro conceptualized BELLO to introduce the dining public to his cuisine, which is rooted in classic Italian cooking, with its simplicity, perfect seasonal ingredients and rigorous technique, but highlights his creativity in modern dishes.
Working side-by-side with Chef Sandro to deliver his vision is Chef de Cuisine Frank DeLoach, one of the region’s most talented young chefs. Chef DeLoach’s tremendous culinary experience and passion for Italian food – having received culinary training in Italy – allow him to execute some of the most elegant dishes in French, Spanish and Italian cuisines. Locally, Chef DeLoach has been in the kitchens of The Playground, Early Bird and Tavern on Two. In addition, he emerged victorious on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen and was featured on a now-classic episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri.
BELLO comes to life in a 4,300-square foot, 140-seat space that is uniquely Italian. It was designed by noted Italian architect Dino Lieghio of A-BIT-A in Casalattico, who has completed strikingly original projects in Italy and Ireland. Lieghio created a design for Bello that is both clean and bold with straight lines and powerful, evocative Italian imagery (created by world-famous Affreschi & Affreschi). Upon entering, guests are greeted with an oversized image of Michelangelo’s David, arguably Italy’s most iconic sculpture, also featured in the back dining room in a floor-to-ceiling mural; these define the restaurant’s design as dramatic, yet refined.
BELLO by Sandro Nardone is located at 1200 Bison (at MacArthur) in Newport Beach. For more information about the restaurant menu, hours and reservations, please visit https://
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