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Dining Guide for Families in Orange County

Incredible Gnocchi at Nello Cucina in South Coast Plaza

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To escape the chilly weather we’ve been having recently, the kids, and I spent the day walking around South Coast Plaza. We rode the holiday train, admired the holiday decorations and did a little shopping. Before we left the mall, we stopped for lunch at Nello Cucina. It was the beautiful indoor “garden” patio that caught our eye and the gracious staff who immediately welcomed us while we looked over the menu that won our hearts.

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We received a basket of bread upon seating under the flower trellis. The kids devoured the pesto spread not leaving a single crumb behind in the bread basket. After getting settled into our seats, we ordered a plate of the fried mozzarella. It was not the traditional fried mozzarella that the kids were normally used to eating. It came in a lightly breaded coating so we could truly enjoy the flavors of the melted cheese and capers instead of just tasting fried breading. The appetizer was covered in a thin blanket of Marzano tomato sauce, and we enjoyed every bite.

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Then we savored the fresh flavors of the fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil in the Caprese salad. The salad was large enough for all of us to have a large helping of mozzarella and tomatoes drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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While I had planned on just ordering a pizza for the kids to share…they insisted on wanting to try the gnocchi after reading my review of Tempo Urban Kitchen. I thought for sure that they would not like it and that I would be the one ending up eating it, so I still ordered them a pizza to share…but boy was I wrong.

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Not only did the kids LOVE the gnocchi but they fought over the last piece. The ricotta dumplings, San Marzano tomatoes, and Fontina cheese won their hearts. They loved the gnocchi so much that they have been talking about it for days after begging me to make them gnocchi for dinner.

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Since the gnocchi was such a hit during our lunch, we ended up bringing home the four cheese pizza featuring fontina, ricotta, gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese home to enjoy the following day for lunch.

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Nello Cucina is a new favorite for our family to stop for lunch at South Coast Plaza. It is located next to the escalator on the second floor of Crystal Court. You can’t miss it with a bright and cheery flower trellis that surrounds the dining area. If you check in on Yelp, you’ll get a 10% discount for a limited-time! Enjoy..

Nello Cucina on Urbanspoon

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