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Try the “polenta board,” chef Lauren “Lulu” De Rouen’s signature dish. The rustic presentation of the cornmeal mush—creamy and faintly sweet but bland if you eat it without the shredded meat gravy—is kind of a revelation, an idea so rudimentarily perfect in what it communicates you'll wish every Italian restaurant did it. But then CUCINA enoteca is an Italian restaurant unlike any OC has ever seen. Owner Tracy Borkum has a theater background and three other restaurants in San Diego with the same kind of shabby-chic aesthetic as this place, her first venture north. Everything inside feels as though it’s a patchwork quilt of found items, bought on a whim, cobbled together from disparate places but converging to make sense of the nonsensical. There are wooden shoe molds that dangle from strings, a hallway papered with vintage Italian movie posters and discovered-from-the-flea-market pieces that fly against the beigeness of its landlord, the Irvine Co. Nearly everything you see is for sale. The woven metal seats can be yours for $425. Even the polenta boards can be bought for $15.
This summer, CUCINA enoteca, Irvine's premier restaurant and wine shop, is proud to partner with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for a ...
There are drinks you order because it's your usual. There are drinks you order to get drunk in as few sips as possible. But then there are those drinks you order because the name made you laugh, and a... More »
You like the poster? You can buy it. You like the chair? You can buy that, too. At CUCINA enoteca, everything's for sale, which makes it either the worst restaurant for shopaholics or the best. As you look around at what resembles an artsy swap meet or a shabby-chic interior designer's showroom, you marvel at the food. The daily polenta boards are so revelatory you wonder why other restaurants don't serve such a thing. Pizzas are of the thin variety, with a bulbous crust and a Neapolitan... More »
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