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November 25, 1989|Clipboard researched by Elena Brunet and Ken Williams / Los Angeles Times, Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

"I'm addicted to your stuff. I'm not kidding," said a young woman bedecked in shorts, blouse, sneakers and bright gold hoops. "It's getting bad," she went on. "I'm just craving something sweet."

If you, too, have a hankering for a cup of espresso, caffe latte cq or cappuccino with a croissant, brioche or baguette, a glimmer of cafe life exists in Fountain Valley in the shade of a Lucky grocery, CVS drugs and an Islands restaurant.

Teresa's Espresso Bar resides relatively unobtrusively, tucked away beside Rubino's Pizza at Callens Corner/Lucky's Shopping Center on Brookhurst Street, just west of Ellis Avenue.

The modest restaurant seats 18 and bustles at lunchtime and on Saturdays with shoppers, but is equally prepared for the take-out market. Offerings (such as cookies, muffins, loaves of French bread, lasagna, tiramisu, wrapped fresh pasta in shades of red, orange and green and imported coffees) are displayed behind a delicatessen counter. The pasta is fresh every day and available by the pint. Rigatoni, Linguine, Fusilli, Fettuccine and Angel Hair are made from roasted red pepper, spinach, carrot or the standard egg pasta. For the more adventurous, beet, squid ink or eggplant flavors are also offered.

Sauces, too, are sold by the pint and make dinner preparations as easy as boiling a pot of water and heating the sauce. The marinara sauce boasts genuine Italian roots ("my mom's recipe," as Teresa puts it on the menu) as do the fresh pesto, alfredo, Gorgonzola, bolognese meat sauce, tomato and basil, and clam sauce. A loaf of French bread completes that typical Italian meal. A tray of homemade lasagna feeds a family of as many as 12.

Baked goods are also fresh. Muffins come in a variety of flavors. Predictably, these are cheaper by the dozen or half-dozen. During the so-called "commuter happy hour"--from 7 to 9 a.m.--a you can pick up nearly a thermos full (12 ounces) of cappuccino or caffe latte "to go" for $2.

Teresa Vinciguerra's parents are originally from Italy. "We come from a family of restaurant people," she says. And she's in her shop every day getting those sauces right. The marinara sauce her mother made "is all olive oil and pretty low in calories. People say it's good." But the tomato and basil and the clam sauce "seem to be favorites," she says.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., ; Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Address: 18611 Brookhurst Street, Fountain Valley

Off the 405 freeway, exit at Brookhurst Street South. Enter the mall at the entrance just past the light at Ellis Avenue on the right.

Telephone: (714) 963-1440

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