With the crazy amount of restaurants dotted around Orange County, it is hard to really pinpoint where to go when those crazy cravings hit. Some days, I want to stay close to home, I want value for money, I want good service but most of all I want something tasty!
I don’t go out for Italian often because I make a lot of it at home, but I won’t say no when a friend wants to go and try some place new. This was the case with Tutto Famiglia! I’ve seen Tutto Famiglia so many times while hitting up Pho Bo Vang next door. I’d even gone up to read the menu posted outside, but never stepped inside until now.
Interestingly, the first thing that hits you when you are walking into the restaurant is the strong smell of pho wafting from next door, and I mean STRONG. Even when you are inside Tutto Famiglia, you are still getting a whiff or two of the beef broth. However, it only lasts a few moment until you catch the aromas wafting from the kitchen — that undeniable aromas of garlic and tomato.
The interior is simple, comfortable and cozy and it came as no surprise when I realized it is a family-run business. Mother and daughter were both taking orders and serving customers and you definitely feel that warm hospitable affinity when you are there.
The wondrous smell of aroma is continued when complimentary garlic bread is brought to the table — hot and buttery, perhaps not garlicky enough for me, and way too buttery, but a nice welcoming touch. It’s great to see that they didn’t just plonk some regular bread on the table with pats of butter like most places.
We ordered a small pizza with gorgonzola, eggplant and sausage. Three toppings come standard on the pizzas, $12 for the small, or $15 for the large. Additional toppings are $1.50 each. — we opted for gorgonzola, eggplant and sausage — and linguine alla vongole (clam sauce) to share. I was surprised at how large the pizza was for a “small” and how generous the toppings were. The pizza was laden with toppings, which I know a lot of people love, but for me, I prefer less toppings and a sturdy crust, but it was a great tasting pizza regardless and such what value for money! But for me, the toppings bogged down the crust making the crust not crispy and too much toppings is more of an American style pizza rather than those pizzas I love so much from Naples.
Linguine alla vongole was also a hefty portion, way too much for me alone. I was very impressed that they used fresh clams as there’s nothing worse than finding tinned clams in your linguine alla vongole when it hits your table. Although the pasta itself didn’t soak up enough of the juices, leaving it a little bland, the pasta was perfectly al dente. The sauce also needed a touch more wine and maybe a pinch more salt as the flavor was a bit one dimensional.
Because everything was cooked with love, like how your Italian aunt may do so in her kitchen, I let it go. I also liked how the whole dining room was bustling with energy from all the patrons who were here, a lot of them seemingly regulars. I like how the servers were very attentive, never leaving a glass of water empty, how they constantly came to check on us, to see if we needed anything else.
This is a neighborhood restaurant, something I can see families with children will frequent in the evenings and on the weekends.Tutto Famiglia is true to its name, “the whole family”, and when you dine there, it’s like eating in their home.
Tutto Famiglia, 23766 Mercury Rd, Lake Forest, CA 92630. Tel: 949-472-5466
*** Photography by Mahesh ***