Arts & Leisure

Francoli’s is a savory gem on the plaza

FRANCOLI GOURMET is a fine northern Italian restaurant on the plaza in downtown Orange (Orange County Tribune photos).

By Jim and Marilyn Tortolano

Although we always like to patronize and write about restaurants and eateries in the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area, sometimes it’s fun to see what’s close by and try something a short distance out of our usual orbit.

That leads us to Francoli Gourmet (also known simply as “Francoli’s”), a northern Italian cuisine gem in the plaza (non-locals call it “the circle”) area in downtown Orange, at Chapman Avenue and Glassell Street. Right there at the southwest corner of that busy and cozy intersection is an almost-local gem.

It serves a wide variety of dishes from sandwiches to regional pasta and main entrees. Being northern Italian you’ll see a lot of white sauces, along with some of the milder red sauces you’d see in the southern Italian cuisine.

All of the selections we’ve tried are first-rate and the prices are quite moderate for the excellent quality, service and presentation. In a lunch-time visit, Jim ordered the parma e brie panini, which included imported Italian prosciutto crudo from Parma, Brie cheese and fresh arugula, served on homemade Ciriola bread.

Marilyn went for a pesto dish, served over penne pasta. The pesto is made from fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic and extra virgin olive oil, was well-seasoned and the pasta of generous portion. Jim’s sandwich was excellent as well, and will be ordered again next time.

There is an extensive section of wine, as well as coffee drinks. You can even get Italian sodas as well as Coke products.

Francoli’s also includes a store with gourmet products, ceramics, wine and liquor. If you want to sit outside in the California sunshine and watch the Chapman University students bike by, there’s a patio.

Parking can be a little bit of a challenge during busy times, but a stroll of a block of two is well worth it for this fine but not stuffy dining.

Francoli’s is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 100 S. Glassell St., Orange, 92866. Phone: (714) 288-1077. E-mail: Website: . 

FRANCOLI’S includes a store with wine, ceramics and more.



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