I love my Pina’s!

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Hidden in an obscure, barely noticeable strip center in Tustin/Santa Ana, lies Pina’s Bistro, a small, completely typical, family owned Italian restaurant that is very reminiscent of bistro’s in Italy. This is my wife’s and I’s favorite restaurant in The OC and until now, our closely held secret.

We kept it a secret so that we didn’t have to fight the crowds for “our” table. But the secret is out. Yelpers know about it, and so do several other social websites. And now Pina has been solicited by Groupon to make an offer so it’s time we came clean and told you about our little secret.

What you’ll find at Pina’s is a small storefront of seating area. Between the sidewalk seating and the restaurant itself, I think they can seat 50 people. Pina is the owner and chef and is joined by her two daughters who handle the front of house, for the most part. Everything is homemade. That includes her own sausage, bread and desserts. If you’ve ever been to Italy, you’ll love the quaint atmosphere and the lack of frills. This place is about the food – period. In the 17+ years I’ve been married to my Italian wife, I’ve never heard her admit that anyone’s sauce was better than her mom’s, until we met Pina.

The dishes are huge and you certainly get your money’s worth. My wife loves to talk but when we eat here, there’s only silence and moaning while we devour our dishes. The talking comes after we’re finished and we pay proper homage to Pina, gushing over her food. I won’t review all of the dishes as we’ve settled on some favorites. For my wife it’s Pina’s Aurora sauce with sausage crumbed over soft pillows of gnochi. For me, I love the Veal Chop. It’s as good as anything you’d get at the big guys meat markets. Cooked to perfection, it’s an incredible piece of meat. It’s so tender and flavorful.

Every dinner comes with an ice cold side (huge) salad. Very simple and exactly what you get in Italy. The dressing is my favorite. We don’t normally have room for a dessert treat afterword but this time we had her cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla gelato. It’s made with her dinner bread loaves which makes for a unique texture and taste. Simple. but oh so delicious.

We just celebrated our 17th anniversary and  for the first time ever, we were introduced to Pina’s Christmas cookies. I have never liked Italian cookies, as I think they’re too dry and not sweet enough, but that wasn’t the case here. These have to be the best Christmas cookies I’ve ever had. Sorry mom! Pina says she’s taking orders now and I’d hurry if I were you!

Other than the need to bare my soul over our hoarding of this place, my wife and I would like to host a wine dinner with Pina. We’re inviting you to join us at Pina’s in early December. It’ll be great! Our stomachs will be stretched out from Thanksgiving allowing us to gorge ourselves on Pina’s dishes! She’s going to take care of the food and I’ll pick the perfect wines.

All I need to know is are you interested in joining us? If so, let me know by sending me an email with your name and phone number. I’ll get back to you shortly with the details. Send your email to [email protected].

See you soon!

Greg