Located at the former Arnie's Manhattan Deli location on Bristol St., I had driven by this place for the past 4 or 5 months since the sign first went up at this new restaurant sometime this past summer. It's called Onotria: Wine Country Cuisine. But it didn't open until recently in the past month.
I stumbled on an article in one of the local Newport/Mesa newspapers, probably the Daily Pilot, when I ran across an article about Onotria's opening in mid-November. I found out that the owner is the former owner of the Scampi restaurant on Newport Blvd, and his new Onotria restaurant finally opened. I decided to give it a try at lunch today, hoping that it would be open, as it might have been a dinner-only place. It is indeed open for lunch.
It is a small, but very nice, restaurant, maybe at 15-20 tables at most. They seem to have an extensive wine list, but not being a wine drinker, I couldn't say how extensive it is. The menu is a bit eclectic, too. While my first impression was that it has an Italian menu, it doesn't have all the traditional Italian dishes like lasagna or cannelloni.
The menu consists of soups and salads, veggies, sandwiches, pizza, burgers, pasta, meats, seafood, and fish. But it's more than just that. For example, one of the burgers is a venison and wild boar burger, with oyster mushrooms and Maui onion marmalade. No In-N-Out double-doubles here.
One of the pasta dishes that mushroom lovers will like is the porcini, chiodini, oyster mushroom cassoulet, served with Yukon potatoes. The seafood includes wild salmon, striped bass filet, and even crepes of crab, spinach, and mushrooms.
It almost felt like a sort of California fusion restaurant, kinda like the Golden Truffle down near Triangle Square on Newport Blvd. That would be the most similar restaurant that I've been that I could compare Onotria to. It's really hard to describe the cuisine specifically as one type.
I ended up ordering the pheasant breast, sauteed with pine nuts, golden raisins, and Moscato wine. This was a spectacular dish, as well as among the priciest on the menu at $20. I haven't had the opportunity to eat pheasant often, nor will you find it on many menus. This was absolutely delicious. The pheasant had a similar texture to chicken when looking at it and cutting it up, but tasted sweet and juicy like duck. That Moscato wine sauce was absolutely heavenly and the perfect sauce for the pheasant. I never quite had a sauce like that, and I'm not much of a raisin fan, but this dish was very good as everything was combined perfectly. My only knock against it was that it wasn't very big. But as with eating at fine restaurants, it isn't about quantity, it is about quality.
Many of the other menu items looked appetizing as well. I will definitely be back to sample the other menu items, especially that venison and wild boar burger.
2831 Bristol St
M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5:30-10PM
(deli open M-F 11AM-6:30PM)
They do appear to have a website, but it doesn't seem to be fully updated with the menu, and quite a bit of text appears to be in Italian (I'm guessing, as I took French in high school).
I've got a company X-mas lunch coming up this month, and this will be among the list of restaurant candidates.