Mr. Stox in Anaheim and Five Crowns in Corona del Mar have received Grand Awards from Wine Spectator magazine. The awards--considered the Oscars of the wine world--honor outstanding service as well as cellars, and have been given to only 90 restaurants around the world since their inception in 1981. Restaurants are re-evaluated every three years.
(In the Aug. 20 Newsbites, we reported mistakenly that the Cellar in Fullerton would be the only restaurant in California receiving a Grand Award this year. What I meant was: It's the only restaurant in the state receiving the award for the first time this year.)
The awards will be presented at a black-tie banquet in San Francisco next month.
Opera lovers can combine Italian cuisine with their music when Prego Ristorante in Irvine launches its Italian opera series on Friday. $85 will buy a three-course dinner and a ticket to Opera Pacific's presentation of "La Boheme" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
The same offer will be available Jan. 15 for "Il Travatore" and Feb. 26 for "The Marriage of Figaro." Or, get the whole series for a money-saving $240.
Prego recommends making reservations for 5:30 p.m., so you won't have to bolt your food to make the curtain. 18420 Von Karman Ave. Reservations and information: (714) 553-1333.
Starting Sunday and continuing Tuesday through next Thursday, Salvatore Cucina Italiana in Mission Viejo will be serving a special six-course dinner and pouring a different Italian wine with each course.
Gnochetti Sardi , a specialty pasta from Sardinia, will be accompanied by Orvieto Classico (Toscana). Rotolo Farcito, a mozzarella roll stuffed with eggplant, prosciutto and arugula, will be served with Citra Trebbiano d'Abruzzo.
For your entree, choose between lamb roasted with garlic and rosemary, served with Chianti Classico R.D. Macia (Toscana), or fresh jumbo scallops in basil and pine nut sauce, served with Pinot Grigio Cavit (Veneto). Cost: $29.95. 27001 La Paz Road. (714) 859-4572.
Foods of the Northwest will take center stage at Trees Restaurant in Corona del Mar on Monday when the kitchen is taken over for the day by John Sarich, executive chef at Washington's Chateau Ste. Michelle winery (whose wines will accompany the meal). Highlights will include mussel pasta in tarragon saffron creme-reduction sauce and rack of lamb with rosemary-Merlot sauce and garlic basil whipped potatoes. Apertifs at 7 p.m., dinner at 7:30. $45. 440 Heliotrope Ave. (714) 673-0910.
Pascal in Newport Beach is closed while chef/owner Pascal Olhats and his family vacation in Quebec. It reopens Oct. 1.