Recession? What recession? This winter brings a number of new restaurants to Orange County. Among them, a third Rib Trader, which debuted in Orange last week. Like Don Long's others, (in Dana Point and San Clemente) this one's a jungle of exotic plants and wild animal replicas. The menu's the same, the specialty, of course, being barbecue, featuring Midwest cornfed beef. The average dinner price is $11, and the restaurant is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. They anticipate a liquor license by mid-February. The new Rib Trader is at 2710 Chapman Ave. (at the Chapman east exit of the Costa Mesa Freeway); (714) 744-9288.
Z Pizza recently opened a dine-in or takeout spot for "upscale gourmet" pizza on Alton Parkway in Irvine. (There are three other Orange County locations--in Newport Beach, South Laguna and on Campus Drive in Irvine.) Z's is a thin-crust pizza that comes in 12 international varieties, including Greek (with feta, oregano) and Mexican (salsa, lime chicken). Prices average $15.95 for a pizza that serves four or five. The new Z Pizza is at 5365 Alton Parkway; (714) 551-1555.
Newport Avenue Grille in Tustin is no more. In its place we now have the Captain's Cabin, recently opened by Pete Vaikakul, who also owns a Captain's Cabin in Palo Alto. This casual, fresh-seafood restaurant serves lunch Monday through Friday and dinner nightly. All meals include soup or salad. Entrees vary from filet of salmon with lemon-caper sauce, bay shrimp and artichoke hearts to seafood cannelloni en casserole with shrimp, crab, scallops and Monterey Jack cheese. Dinner prices: $7.95 to $14.95, or $22.95 for the Australian lobster tail. Located at 13572 Newport Ave.; (714) 731-1711.