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Bravo Barolo!

OC’s finest restaurants showcase the best in Nebbiolo wines

Angelinas

By Rebecca Treon

Barolo is a wine lover’s wine—one of Italy’s greats. Hailing from the Piedmont region of northern Italy, Barolo is made from Nebbiolo grapes and aged for at least 38 months, 18 of which must be in wood. The Nebbiolo vine blooms early in the season, but ripens last, with a harvest time of mid-October.

This lust-worthy red is known for being a tannin-rich dry red wine, with notes of tar and roses. It also ages well, taking on a rust color in the barrel. When aged for five years or more, it becomes a riserva, a level of maturity that earned it the moniker “wine of kings and the king of wines.” It’s best paired with meats, heavy pastas, and risottos to mellow the wine’s flavors.

Whatever you pair it with, however you enjoy it, you’ll feel like royalty drinking Barolo at these Orange County eateries. Cheers!

Angelina’s
{Irvine and Dana Point locations}
At Angelina’s, you’ll find traditional Neapolitan pizzas and family recipes combined with modern-day techniques. Using quality ingredients, Angelina’s handcrafted pizzas start with a generous serving of San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella imported from Naples. Adding in locally sourced toppings, Angelina’s lets guests choose from either red pizzas (try the Puparuolo, topped with roasted bell peppers, bufala mozzarella, San Marzano pomodoro sauce, and fresh basil) or white pizzas (we love the Pere e Noci, with Gorgonzola, walnuts, pear, bufala mozzarella, and fresh basil). Another option: Choose from their menu of salads, pastas, or sandwiches. While you enjoy sweeping ocean views (at the Dana Point location) or the hustle and bustle (at Irvine), pop open a bottle of Barolo. Our favorite on the menu is the Cannubi Barolo 2011 from Marchesi di Barolo—a full-bodied, elegant red with hints of vanilla, roses, licorice, and oak. Cin cin! angelinaspizzeria.com

Michael’s On Naples
{5620 East Second Street; 562.439.7080}
Michael’s is upscale Italian at its finest, where diners are dressed to the hilt, the sound of wine corks popping fills the air, and an art-filled elegant dining room makes the perfect setting for enjoying the popular pasta tasting, a five-course dinner with wine pairings. The rooftop patio serves a more casual menu and features a retractable roof, where you can enjoy dishes like the Pappardelle with braised beef cheeks alfresco. Your dining experience at Michael’s will be unforgettable, from the atmosphere to the use of the highest quality ingredients—fresh, locally sourced, seasonal produce and responsibly butchered meats and housemade sausage from their personal butcher, Working Class Kitchen. The award-winning restaurant believes in making everything from scratch, from pasta and sauces to mozzarella and gelato. And whatever your entrée, toast with a single-vineyard Brandini Resa 56 Barolo, which has hints of tobacco, smoke, and balsamic. michaelsonnaples.com

Antonello Ristorante
{3800 South Plaza Drive; 714.751.7153}
Since 1979, Antonello has drawn diners in with Old World authenticity with clas­sic dishes like the handmade Spinach Ricotta Ravioli, filled with ricotta and or­ganic spinach served in San Mar­zano tomato sauce, and the Cowboy Steak, a 20-ounce bone-in rib-eye grilled and served with roasted potatoes and asparagus. Owner Antonio Cagnolo (who gets help in the kitchen from his mother, Mama Pina, and his wife, Fiorella) hails from the Piedmont, the very region at the heart of Barolo production. Anontello’s award-winning wine list is more than 700 foreign and domestic labels deep, built to complement the quintessential Italian dishes on the menu. For the Barolo lover, they offer a half-bottle of Barolo Chiarlo (produced by Antonio’s childhood friend), a highly quaffable 2012 Barolo Pio Cesare, and for the serious collector, they have a stash of Marchese di Barolo library selections that will set a buyer back as much as $319. Bottoms up! antonello.com