No pasta at the grocery? Local Italian restaurants like Il Barone in Newport Beach have your back – Orange County Register

No pasta at the grocery? Local Italian restaurants like Il Barone in Newport Beach have your back – Orange County Register

When a craving for pasta hits, will you have the spaghetti, sauce, special meats and cheeses you need to make dinner or has your grocery store been shopped out by hoarders?

In times like these it’s good to keep Italian restaurants and delis in mind. Many have bottegas; stores that sell specialty items so necessary to prepare this cuisine.

Il Barone in Newport Beach is a prime example. This family business run by Chef Franco Barone, his wife Donatella and their nephew Frank Domicolo, has quickly adapted to the takeout world. It has shifted from serving power lunches in the fine dining room on Bristol Street, to relying on Il Barone Bottega on Martingale Way which offers pasta, pizza, sandwiches and wine as well as provisions.

“It’s been a blessing in disguise,” says Donatella Barone. When the governor closed dining rooms, many restaurants were scrambling to figure out a plan but the Barones swiftly consolidated their business. They decided to close Il Barone Sicilian Street Food at Pacific City in Huntington Beach and they’ve shuttered Ti Amo in Laguna Beach, probably permanently.

Chef Franco turned Bottega into a commissary. “We make all the goods in our regular restaurant and bring it over there,” Donatella said. “That’s what people are looking for, to pick up really good food at very, very reasonable prices.”

Customers simply text or email their lists for curbside pickup or delivery. It’s helping the Barones keep their heads above water, she said. “We’ve got zero business for fine dining, just curbside takeout. And that’s a very small percentage. I’d say about 20% of what we do. At the Bottega we’re about 80% up from what we were doing.”

Customers will find fresh housemade rigatoni, gnocchi, ravioli and dried pastas too. Chef Franco’s marinara and Bolognese sauces are available in jars, $6 for eight ounces or a large jar to feed 6-8 for $12. Bottega also sells a lightly spicy Arrabbiata sauce and Amatriciana with smoked pancetta.

Pizza kits ($24) have enough dough, sauce and other ingredients to make two pies and come with a small jar of house olive oil. “I have a friend who has olive trees in Sicily and he makes oil,” said Chef Franco. “He said, ‘What if I send you some oil very cheap and you try to sell it?’” Another friend from San Pedro has a tomato farm. “He’s selling me San Marzano tomatoes and that’s in most of the sauce in these jars.”

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Chef Franco prepares individual and family size portions of lasagna, manicotti and eggplant parmigiana. They’re frozen and can be slowly reheated or microwaved. There are fresh salads made of farro and grilled corn and Italian potato salad prepared with olive oil instead of mayonnaise.

For dessert there’s housemade Italian biscotti and cookies like the signature “Sicilian Oreos,” Italian white chocolate cream sandwiched between dark chocolate cookies. It’s a one-stop shop with Italian groceries and wine. She’ll even sell the regulars just a few eggs or whatever they need to get by.

Need a quick fix? Donatella can set you up with a no-cook dinner in minutes, starting with vacuum-packed foccaccia that’s oven ready.

“Grab one of these focaccia bread. It’s already brushed with olive oil. We have beautiful heirloom tomatoes. I say, chop up a tomato, some basil, add olive oil, put mozzarella there and you have a nice bruschetta,” she said. “I sell them a bottle of wine and they’re happy.”

Italian restaurants and delis with markets

Il Barone Bottega: Offering prepared foods, Italian specialty groceries and wines. Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday. 4251 Martingale Way, Newport Beach, 949-955-2755,

Lucci’s: Best known for its deli with sliced-to-order cold cuts, it also has grab-and-go servings of dishes such as lasagna and pasta. Trays available, cold cut platters and a bakery. San Marzano tomatoes, olives, wine, semolina flour, pizza flour, cookies and other goodies. The refrigerator case is stuffed with housemade ravioli and gnocchi. 8911 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach, 714-968-4466,

Filomena’s Italian Kitchen & Market: Market opens daily at 11:30 a.m. offering prepared pastas, salads and pastries. Shop for fresh pasta and dried pastas, olive oil, canned tomatoes and sauces, cold cuts, wine and more. The restaurant offers takeout from its full menu starting at 4 p.m. each day. 2400 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, 949-642-3810,

Claro’s Italian Market: Specializing in sausages, Claro’s serves prepared hot foods, cold Italian sandwiches, pastries, cookies and more. Shop for wine, salumi, cheeses, olive oil, flour and groceries. Curbside pickup available.1095 E. Main St., Tustin, 714-832-3081, 101 West Whittier Blvd., La Habra, 562-690-2844, other locations in Arcadia, Covina, San Gabriel and Upland. Closed Wednesdays.

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