The following are summaries of recent Times restaurant reviews.
Caffe Piemonte, 1835 E. Chapman Ave., Orange. (714) 532-3296. Open Tuesdays through Fridays 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays 5 to 10 p.m.
Two brothers from Piemonte, one of Italy's most scenic provinces, have opened this handsome, spotless little trattoria in the city of Orange and already it has become a county hot spot. Start any meal here with the wonderful, sumptuous antipasto and then move on to one of chef Luigi Ravetto's hand-extruded homemade pastas (such as chewy ruotelle , little, six-spoked wheels perfect for soaking up sauce). Ravetto's cooking is somewhat generic, but he has included polenta , the cornmeal staple of his province, and you really should try it. His polenta Piemontese, with a light, grainy cheese sauce, is most appealing.
California Pizza Kitchen, Fashion Island, 1151 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach. (714) 759-5543. Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays to 11, Sundays to 9.
With the '80s has come the designer pizza, and it looks as if the phenomenon is here to stay. That's what the California Pizza Kitchen is banking on, anyway. This slicked-down operation, designed for flash and staffed with young, beautiful people, serves an eclectic, almost futuristic array of pizzas topped with everything from goat cheese to peanut sauce. Service is somewhat indifferent at present; high energy owners Larry Flax and Rick Rosenfeld should fix that problem soon. Best to stick with the pizzas that don't fall too far from the tree; five-cheese, homemade sausage and a delicious barbecued chicken.
1520 AD, 821 S. Beach Blvd., Anaheim. (714) 995-5464. Seatings are Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.
The food at 1520 AD may not be authentic Tudor, but who cares? When you eat with your fingers, everything tastes better. The opening course at this re-creation of a Merrie Olde England roadhouse is a hearty lentil barley soup, drunk from large draughts and eaten with hunks of brown bread. There is a choice of four entrees: slow cooked chicken, lamb shank in a white sauce, steak kabob, and a most modern filet of halibut with a heathen Spanish sauce on top. The abundant platters of rice and vegetables, the fine, lemony pound cake, and the bottomless mugs of ice cold beer make for a dinner that King Henry himself would have enjoyed.
Granville's, in the Disneyland Hotel, 1150 W. Cerritos Ave., Anaheim. (714) 778-6600. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 6 to 10 p.m.
The Disneyland Hotel might not immediately spring to mind when the subject of restaurants comes up, but it ought to: Granville's, its flagship restaurant, is one of the best around. The room is designed for elegance, with mahogany sideboards, Regency-style chairs and overwhelming shades of burgundy. Chef Tim Owen trained with Boston cooking teacher Madeleine Kamman, and his cuisine is original and delicate. Such appetizers as Little Neck clams steamed in Pernod with spinach are wonderful, as are such entrees as loin of lamb in an anise crust.
Thai Nakorn, 8674 Stanton Ave., Buena Park. (714) 952-4954. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Thai Nakorn is an innocent looking storefront restaurant--but inside awaits the blistering fare of northeast Thailand, arguably the world's hottest cuisine. A long list of specialties will make a believer out of you, ones such as larb , ground pork with brown rice, onion, lime juice and chili, or nuad dad deal , a dried, salted beef with a faint aftertaste of the sea. Appetizers show the restaurant's class: Try a savage barbecued shrimp salad with mint sprig and a homemade sausage wrapped up in cabbage leaves. Frog, eel, and other exotica can be ordered from a blackboard.
McCharles House, 335 S . C St., Tustin. (714) 731-4063. Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, 2 to 6 p.m. for tea; Thursdays through Saturdays 5:30 to 9 p.m. for dinner.
If you have never experienced a proper English tea, then now's your chance at this converted Victorian house, built circa 1885 in Old Town Tustin. You'll even get heart shaped scones. Audrey Heredia and her daughter, Vivian, fuss over this dining and tearoom, a spinster's fantasy of wooden tables, tasseled lamps and enough doilies to make Gladys Cooper an overcoat.