Review of Spring menu at Prego Ristorante
Prego’s Spring menu brings a touch of Northern Italy to Irvine
Nestled in the heart of an Irvine business complex is a charming Italian restaurant called Prego Ristorante, which focuses on traditional Northern Italian cuisine. Executive Chef and Partner Ugo Allesina was born in the Piemnonte region of Italy and brings his 25 years of kitchen experience to practice at Prego. This was my second time dining at Prego, the first time was before the fire severely damaged the restaurant last year. This blog post will cover my reaction to their Spring menu which I was invited to try last week. Although I was invited to try their new spring menu, this review is purely my own opinion.
I am a huge fan of good Italian food. I became obsessed with it after a trip to Italy several years ago when I took a cooking classes and learned some basic Italian cooking techniques. Many of the dishes that I have tasted at Prego remind me of meals that I enjoyed in Tuscany.
Prego Ristorante Spring Menu Dishes
Toasted bread is topped with fresh tomato, mozzarella, imported Parma prosciutto. It was delicious. This appetizer was executed extremely well, although anything less than superior bruschetta would be unacceptable for this type of restaurant. Status quo met.
Prego does a nice job with their antipasto meats, each pure and delicious. Meats that I tried include handcrafted Allesina salami, bresaola, Proscuitto di Parma, speck, giardiniera.
Both Appetizers paired with Sofia Blanc de Blancs, 2012
Asparagus is wrapped in Parma prosciutto and grilled until the prosciutto is slightly crunchy and the asparagus has an ever so slight snap. It is served with salad greens, parmesan cheese and truffle oil. I am a really big fan of prosciutto wrapped asparagus and can make a really good version of this at home, although Chef Allesina’s version trumps mine any day. This was my favorite dish of the course menu.
Recommended Pairing La Moto Pinot Grigio, Veneto 2011
Risotto Alla Sovazzese
Arborio rice is cooked with porcini mushrooms, fontina cheese and herbs. The risotto was creamy and the right amount of firmness in the rice to provide a nice breakup of texture. I liked the earthy flavors from the porcini mushrooms against the creamy fontina cheese.
Recommended pairing Zorzon Pinot Grigio, Friuli Venezia Giulea, 2011
Contechino e Lenticchie
Allesina homemade Italian Sausage with white wine served with stewed lentils and house made whole grain mustard. This is an interesting choice for a spring menu item since this dish is traditionally served as a New Year’s dish in Italy. Executive Chef and Partner explained that he used the recipe for Contenchino from his native village in Northern Italy, close to the Swiss border as inspiration. The sausage is house made, cooked and then served in slices. The sausage has a softer and creamier texture that I can best describe as somewhere between firm pate and traditional sausage.
The sausage is served with the dish’s traditional accompaniment, stews lentils and house made grain mustard. Overall this was a good dish, although I could have really enjoyed if this dish were served with some fresh vegetables since it is spring. This slight modification this would provide some contrast of flavor and lighten the palate between bites. Keep in mind that the traditional contechino dish is served only with lentils, I would probably order the asparagus with this dish.
Recommended pairing, Elle Primitivo, Puglia 2010
Tronco ai Cioccolati
I really liked this dessert. Puff pastry is rolled around white and dark chocolate mousse to form a log and then sliced to into potion sizes. The tronco is served with crème anglaise and raspberry sauce. This is a nice interpretation of the classic dessert. The dessert was light and fluffy with multiple flavor layers brought out by the interplay of light puff pastry, chocolate and vanilla mouse and the raspberry sauce.
My Final Thoughts
If you are looking for good Italian food, Prego Ristorante is a wonderful choice. I really liked the authentic recipes and delicious dishes. The new spring menu was delicious and I plan on visiting Prego Ristorante again soon to get a second helping. The Owners of Prego, Tony and Ruth Bedi, are obviously putting their heart and soul into this restaurant and are lucky to have a Chef Partner like Ugo Allesina in the kitchen.
Other Spring Menu Offerings at Prego Ristorante
Ruchetta e Ricotta Salata
vine-ripened tomatoes, arugula, red onion, and aged ricotta in a red wine vinaigrette
roasted chicken, romaine lettuce, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, leeks, and zucchini in a gorgonzola vinaigrette
Linguine Bella Napoli
linguine tossed with calamari, fresh diced tomatoes, spinach, and spicy tomato sauce
Rigatoni alla Moda
large tube pasta with grilled sliced Italian sausage, roasted eggplant, thyme, garlic, basil, and pecorino cheese
free-range chicken breast filled with spinach and ricotta cheese, served with sundried tomatoes and roasted garlic sauce
Spiedini di Mare
grilled shrimp and scallops skewered with bell pepper and red onions, served over sautéed spinach, tomatoes and artichoke hearts