Monday, July 24, 2006

Road Trip: Laguna Beach

Last week I was fortunate enough to snag an extra ticket to the Pageant of the Masters at the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts. People dress up like famous paintings — that’s all I’d heard. I really had no idea what to expect, besides that one “Arrested Development” episode, of course. I only received vague descriptions from anyone I asked about it, and it always ended up going something like, “You just have to see it. It’s pretty cool.” Well now I had the opportunity to see “it”, and my friend and I headed down to Laguna on a Monday evening to get there by the 8:30 start time, and hopefully grab some dinner first.
We arrived with plenty of time for food (miraculously, given the state of the 405). We ate at a spot down the block from where the festival was being held called Romeo Cucina. Now generally I’m not a big fan of fancy Italian restaurants, as I always think I can get the same food at my mom’s for free. But this was near the theater, and looked popular. They’ve got a nice big dining room with a full bar. Once seated, we ordered wine from the extremely friendly (albeit a bit frazzled) waiter, and perused the menu. Next to every menu section, there was an informative “LOW CARB”, “NO CARB”, or “REGULAR DIET CARB”- in case you couldn’t figure out that pasta has carbs and salad doesn’t. This is Orange County, after all-cant lose that beach body, now can we? I tried to look past the craziness at the food, and ordered.
This was NOT my mom’s cooking. In a good way. The house salad was huge, with a delicious house dressing, not your usual vinaigrette. My Spaghetti al Pennello was quite possibly the best pasta I have ever had (sorry, Mom!). Shrimps, Scallops, peppers, and the pasta itself was al dente just how I like it. Oh, and the bread. I always judge a restaurant by the bread they bring to the table (is that shallow?), and man this was good stuff. I could have eaten that for a meal (although I’m half-surprised they didn’t include a little note with the bread-“HAS CARBS”).
Onto the Pageant: its true, you just have to see it. At least once. I really can’t explain without sounding a little nuts.

Romeo Cucina
249 Broadway
Laguna Beach, CA

Laguna Beach Festival Of The Arts
Through Sept.1

Arrested Development ­­­- RIP
—Gina Gorman