Salerno, 220 Beach St., Laguna Beach. Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays. (714) 497-2600. Owner Tony Manzi's accent is nearly as thick as his meat sauce, and his menu is just as hearty. Try the gnocchi, baked mostaccoli with Italian sausage or, if you happen to be dining with understanding friends, the fettuccine with garlic and oil.
Las Barcas Mexican Restaurant, 21032 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (714) 536-2616. Oversized portions, the hodgepodge decor and a colorful variety of local folk make this tiny eatery a beachside winner. The food is good and cheap, featuring ranchero-covered burritos, fresh snapper tacos and homemade tortilla chips. Be prepared to take out, though, there's always a crowd.