Diner’s couldn’t get enough of Brunos Trattoria‘s 3-course prix fixe menu at $30 during Orange County Restaurant Week so, by popular demand, Brunos is offering this amazing value for the entire month of March! With six appetizer and entree selections, you could dine with family and friends or a special someone every night and not order the same combination twice – although you may want to after savoring the creamy Pappardelle Bruno and soaking up every last bit of the savory broth in the Cozze (PEI mussels with garlic, white wine, fennel and fresh herbs (shown below).
My first time to Brunos was during OC Restaurant Week. The amber lighting and dark rustic wood surfaces of the restaurant envelope you in its comfortable, yet intimate ambiance. There were three in our party which allowed us to experience half of the dishes on the menu – we “foodies” love when that happens because sharing is the protocol 🙂 After the drive up the 55 freeway, cocktails were most definitely in order. From the signature cocktail list, the Fragola of vodka with fresh muddled strawberries jumped out at me – I had no regrets, it was a vibrantly colored cocktail with a sliver of strawberry, delightful and refreshing. Gazing beyond the covered patio dining area, I caught glimpses of blue skies streaked with pastel strokes of waning light and had the feeling that I could very well be seated in a bustling trattoria on a summer evening in Italy, gathered with friends and families for a night of lively conversation and gustatory satisfaction; catching the last rays of sunlight while the stained glass candlelight danced on the the crimson surface between each cool sip of Fragola.
Our server was attentive and well versed in all the menu items and her mellifluous pronunciation suggested Italian lineage. She aptly picked up on our desire to dally over cocktails and didn’t rush us through the courses. We ordered three of the appetizer selections. The Salumi Misti board was outstanding with four handcrafted salumi from Fra’ Mani of Berkeley, CA: Nostrano, Gentile, Salametto Picante, and Coppa Americana along with assorted premium olives, piquante mustard, arugula and toasted Italian bread – more than enough to share between 3, but we managed it quite well, thank you.
The Cozze of PEI Mussels was warm and garlicky with plenty of grilled toasts to sop up all the goodness and the Aracini were creamy orbs of deliciousness – risotto balls filled with bits of ham, cheeses, and fresh herbs, are lightly fried and and served with Chef Peter’s special recipe marinara sauce.
Shown: (top) the ‘865’ Spritz and Arancini; (bottom) Torte di Peshe and Budino al Caramello
Pappardelle Bruno | braised short ribs, wild mushrooms, homemade pappardelle
The standout among the entrees was decidedly the Pappardelle Bruno (above). Ribbons of handmade pappardelle with a rich braised short rib and wild mushroom sauce with a dusting of parmigiana and parsley was divine. The two others we selected from the prix fixe menu were the Grilled Salmon with toasted “pearl” pasta, much like Israeli couscous, and rapini and the Lasagna al Forno – fresh pasta, bolognese, béchamel, and parmigiano.
Shown: (top) Strawberry Fragola and Salmone; (bottom) Lasagna al Forno and Capellini alla Checca
When it comes to choosing wine, I believe in trying a wine from the region of the cuisine because the wine of a particular country or region is artfully designed to complement their cuisine. The wine list at Brunos has a respectable selection of wines from Italy alongside a few requisite California wines for those who won’t leave their comfort zone. I was leaning toward the Montepulciano and our server agreed that this would be an excellent choice – it paired wonderfully with the hearty Pappardelle as well as the Salmone and Lasagna. The other great thing about the wines at Brunos – they are all reasonably priced at $7 per glass and $28 a bottle – all of them! They want you to be adventurous and do not want price to be the deciding factor, so they did something unconventional with straight across-the-board pricing.
Yes, we were fully satisfied at this point, but it is a three-course dinner and a little dessert to end the evening on a sweet note sounded too good to resist, especially since we had heard of the scrumptious Budino al Caramello before we even walked through the door. Word has it that the LA Times has requested the recipe – after tasting it, I say Brunos should retain it as intellectual property and never reveal any portion of said recipe. I generally favor fruit desserts and the Torte di Pesche (peach torte) held the perfect amount of fruit to flaky crust proportion, but that Budino of luscious caramel pudding, chocolate ganache and whipped cream is what dreams are made of. I suggest you make a plan to visit Bruno’s before this special ends!
210 W. BIRCH ST.
BREA, CA 92821
OPEN FOR DINNER
Tuesday – Sunday 4:00 p.m.