The following are summaries of recent Times restaurant reviews.
Ferrantelli, 25001 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Dana Point. (714) 493-1401. Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10, Fridays and Saturdays till 11.
Ferrantelli is an engaging dockside pasta house that doesn't take a lot of chances but offers solid meals. The house antipasto, a stunning palette of color and taste, gives an idea of the type of effort the kitchen puts in with its limited skill. Pastas are fine, too, made fresh daily by Pasta Mia and embellished with a variety of good sauces. But the veal dishes are tasteless, and main courses are often sweet and cloying.
Yankee Tavern, 333 Bayside Dr., Newport Beach. (714) 675 5333. Open nightly 5:30 to midnight.
Those who know Yankee Tavern owner Hans Prager as proprietor of the Ritz may be surprised to see him in this urban roadhouse, catering to a crowd hungry for low prices, speedy service and an unpretentious menu. The food here is almost unfailingly good, though, in a cafeteria-style manner. Meat loaf, pot pie, lamb shanks and fresh seafoods are featured along with many New England style dishes such as Little Neck clams, seafood stew and blueberry cobbler. Good fun.
Kachina, 222 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach. (714) 497-5546. Open nightly from 5:30 to 10.
Kachina is new, but it already may be the county's best restaurant. Named for an American Indian doll of the Southwest, the restaurant serves food that is rare and exotic -- edible art. David Wilhelm, late of Pave and the El Torito Grill, has composed a menu featuring some of the most imaginative, intelligent cooking this side of the Twilight Zone, full of sumptuous tastes and color-splashed textures. Run, don't walk, to taste their green corn tamale, honey glazed pork and celestial chocolate bread pudding. And go early.
Agostino's, 34700 Coast Hwy., Capistrano Beach. (714) 661-8266. Open Tuesdays through Sundays noon to 3 and 5 to 10.
Entirely new management is in place at this Chicago style Italian restaurant, famous for its homemade sausage and romantic beach view. Much of the menu, including the table-side Caesar and the rich, creamy pastas, is the same as it was when the place was called Sabatino's. But Agostino already has added many seafood dishes including mussels, fresh salmon, and calamari. The bar is as good a hangout as you'll find on Capo Beach.
Tuttomare, 545 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach. (714) 640-6333. Open Mondays through Thursdays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fridays 11 to midnight; Saturdays 11:30 to midnight, Sundays 5 to 10.
Service is fluid and solicitous at this smart, stunning restaurant, located in the building that used to house the Savannah Grill, but the kitchen is having its ups and downs. Wonderful, yeasty foccaccia bread served with virgin olive oil and the fine grilled seafoods are some of the ups. Naked vegetables and bland pasta dishes are some of the downs. Lombata di vitello, veal chop with fontina and prosciutto, is one reason to go back for a second look.
Umi, 2075 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa. (714) 631-2208. Open Tuesdays through Sundays 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 10:30, Fridays and Saturdays till 11.
Umi is a modern and imaginative but often unprofessional sushi bar with high-tech pretensions, and knowing what to order is important: You are safe if you stick with the sushi, which is fresh and crafted with an excellently prepared rice, but it is easy to run aground on the many hot dishes. Among them, best are a wonderful scallop casserole, a toothsome Japanese steak, and yaki-onigiri, grilled triangles of sushi rice with various fillings. Service can be painfully slow.