I joined the family for Pdho’s Papa’s birthday at Andrea which is the Italian restaurant inside the Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach. Pelican Hill was actually one of the top choices for my wedding reception, but it eventually got nixed. Being situated high above the ocean, the view is absolutely beautiful and wonderfully breathtaking. The restaurant is situated such that most of the seating, particularly the tables on the outdoor terrace, are blessed with this wonderful view of the ocean and finely manicured hotel grounds. The menu distinctly leans toward Italian fine dining, specifically serving a Tuscan-inspired menu. Although the restaurant did not make it conducive for family-style eating, we still ordered a bunch of different dishes off the menu with the full intention of sharing amongst each other so we could give everything a try.
The amuse bouche was a melon gelée with balsamic vinegar topped with shavings of parmesan cheese and a slice of prosciutto. It was very fresh tasting and had a nice blend of sweet and salty flavors. I really thought it was well done.
The Cacciucco Seafood Soup was very flavorful. It was like a richer, smoother bouillabaisse chock full of all sorts of seafood. I liked it. It was definitely one of the better dishes.
This salad as a whole was just okay, but I really liked the burrata cheese which is very surprising for me. I found it to be very light and creamy, and it went very well with the different varieties of tomatoes. It turns out that burrata is a close cousin of mozzarella cheese, so it makes sense why the ingredients seemed to work so well together with this salad.
The prosciutto was appropriately salty and went very well with the sweetness of the figs. It was a pretty simple dish, but very typically Italian.
The Paccheri (on the left) was served with a tomato-based sauce, lobster, peas, and arugula. The pasta was al dente and the sauce was flavorful. The Spinach Ricotta Ravioli was served a sage butter sauce. It was a bit creamier and richer than the Paccheri, but it was good.
The Veal Chop was probably one of my favorite dishes of the meal. The meat was well-seasoned and juicy. It was tender, flavorful, and the eggplant chianti vegetables were a nice complement to the dish.
I’ve really become a big fan of squid ink pastas lately, and this taglioni version was no exception. The pasta was al dente and the sauce had good seafood flavors. A pretty good dish overall.
The next dish was a rather interesting one, and because of the way that the waiter had described it, I was most excited to give this one a try. It was Wild Mushroom Risotto with shaved black truffles. This dish gets all the points for presentation, because they rolled out a tray upon which sat a ginormous-sized half wheel of parmesano reggiano cheese. Interestingly enough, the risotto came piping off the pan and into the cheese wheel where it was subsequently mixed round and round in the wheel. This process allows for the risotto to get mixed with the parmesan cheese. As a final touch, slices upon slices of shaved black truffles topped of the risotto.
Unfortunately, in spite of the flair and presentation, I was extremely disappointed with the risotto. In part due to my love/hate relationship with cheese, there are times where risotto really hits the spot or really makes me feel blah. Usually, the strongly cheese-flavored preparations tend to be the ones that just doesn’t sit well on my taste buds. In this particular case, although I liked the mushroom flavor, I found the risotto to be generally bland, and the parmesan cheese didn’t seem to add any sort of interesting taste but rather gave a grainy texture to the rice which I really didn’t like. There were definitely A LOT of black truffles, but they couldn’t really save the risotto.
On a side note, I really thought that Musha’s version of this dish was so much better. Similar to this presentation, they brought a chunk of cheese out to the table and mixed the risotto inside of it. Even though there was a very cheesy flavor in the risotto when we had it last time, I would probably choose that one over this one any day. I really was sad, because I really wanted to like this dish.
The desserts were okay. I was pretty full by this point, so even if the desserts were good, I probably was not full appreciative of it. We ordered like 4 or 5 different desserts, but in truth, only these 2 were the most memorable in my mind. On the left is a meyer-lemon zabaglione served with seasonal fruits and berries and a raspberry sorbet. It was pretty light and not too sweet, so I really liked it. On the right is the the Espresso tiramisu topped with an organic coffee gelato. The coffee flavor was good and tiramisu was well-prepared. I actually don’t like tiramisu’s that much, but this one was one of the better ones.
Overall, the meal was good, but maybe not as consistent as I would have expected for such a fancy, fine-dining establishment. There were some high points and not-so-high points throughout the meal, and I would say for the most part, it was still a very good meal. I think given its location and ambiance, I expected so much more, so unfortunately, it wasn’t quite able to meet my expectations. I admit that maybe my expectations were too high. Nevertheless, it was still a very enjoyable meal and the general ambiance of the restaurant in the hotel is very pleasant.
22800 Pelican Hill Rd S
Newport Beach, CA 92657
PAFO Ratings for Andrea:
Price 4½ stars
Ambiance 4½ stars
Food 3 stars
Overall rating 3½ stars