Vitaly Caffé: An Italian gem in Southern California

Few greater joys exist than great Italian cuisine. Many epicureans consider Bologna, the provincial capital of the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy to be the exemplar of what Italian food should be. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Prosciutto di Parma, Balsamic vinegar, as well as classic pastas such as tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle originated in Bologna and Emilia-Romagna. 

 Vitaly: the culinary nirvana of Bologna with a Southern California vibe.

Vitaly: the culinary nirvana of Bologna with a Southern California vibe.

This tradition of incredible food was brought to Southern California by Bologna natives Maurizio and Barbara Cocchi, owners of Vitaly Caffé in the unique Camp complex in California’s Orange County town of Costa Mesa. Combining a successful entrepreneurial background in the surf and apparel industry with their flair for great Italian cuisine, they launched Vitaly to create a casual restaurant that brings the very best authentic products from their beloved Italian hometown to California. From rich imported Italian coffees and wine, to hand-made artisan pastas, piadina flatbread, pastries and gelato, Maurizio and Barbara serve only the freshest food using the best ingredients. In fact, 70 percent of their ingredients are organic and locally sourced, and 30 percent are delicacies imported from Italy. It doesn't get much better than that.

 Maurizio and Barbara Cocchi, your hosts at Vitaly Caffé. (Source: Vitaly)

Maurizio and Barbara Cocchi, your hosts at Vitaly Caffé. (Source: Vitaly)

We’ve become very strict with our diet, and for us, it means we’ve bid adieu to a world of comfort foods. So how can we praise something so tempting as Bolognese cuisine like that served at Vitaly? Simple. Maurizio and Barbara have combined the proud culinary tradition of Bolognese cuisine with forward thinking and an understanding of healthy food. So you can order their amazing hand-made entrées like pastas and sandwiches that include gluten-free recipes. We found a number of mesmerizing items on their menu that we could enjoy without guilt, but left us in Heaven. 

A good example is piadina, a traditional flatbread of Emilia-Romagna made over an open fire on hand-fired stone plates known as a Testo. Usually found in street kiosks in Bologna, Maurizio and Barbara make their sandwiches with this amazing yeast-free, low (or non) gluten bread. One taste and you’re hooked.

 A piadina flatbread sandwich at Vitaly. Freshly baked piadina, imported  prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, fresh lettuce and  Roma tomatoes make for a splendid lunch. (Source: Vitaly)

A piadina flatbread sandwich at Vitaly. Freshly baked piadina, imported prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, fresh lettuce and  Roma tomatoes make for a splendid lunch. (Source: Vitaly)

During a recent visit, we enjoyed a magnificent salad of fresh greens and perfectly grilled chicken, along with exceptionally smooth espresso. Across the room stood a line of happy customers eagerly awaiting their chance to buy another Vitaly specialty: their home made gelato and sorbetto, something for which we could only sigh and dream. The photo below will convince you: it’s world-class. With flavors like pistachio, strawberry, mascarpone and fig, pear with cinnamon, tiramisu, coffee, salted caramel, cantaloupe sorbetto and more…well, you get the idea. On a hot California summer afternoon, it was easy to see why the line of happy customers ran out the door and into the courtyard. 

 The gelato and sorbetto at Vitaly are made from scratch in-house. It's little wonder why the lines of eager customers go out the door and into the adjoining courtyard on warm California afternoons.

The gelato and sorbetto at Vitaly are made from scratch in-house. It's little wonder why the lines of eager customers go out the door and into the adjoining courtyard on warm California afternoons.

Vitaly isn’t just gelato, lunch and dinner. You can enjoy outstanding breakfasts with Italian flair, such as egg dishes, including egg white omelettes, fresh fruit, pastries, granola with yogurt, along with their world class espresso, cappuccino and cafe latte.  

 At Vitaly, practically everything is hand made in their kitchen, the way it should be. Their pasta is a light as a feather. (Source: Vitaly)

At Vitaly, practically everything is hand made in their kitchen, the way it should be. Their pasta is a light as a feather. (Source: Vitaly)

 Heaven in a jar: Ragu alla Bolognese made in the Vitaly kitchen.

Heaven in a jar: Ragu alla Bolognese made in the Vitaly kitchen.

We’ve been blessed to know Maurizio and Barbara for many years from our association with the surf and action sports industries. They are world-class entertainers, and to be invited to join them for dinner in their Bologna home was an unforgettable experience. Their Bolognese warmth and charm is the same at Vitaly. Combining a modern look with casual seating indoors and out, Vitaly stands out not just for incredible food, wonderful hosts but also an atmosphere combining a California vibe with Italian la dolce vita. 

Maurizio explains that “We want to be your first and last choice in the morning and your last treat before bed.” We couldn’t agree more. At Vitaly, you can enjoy the fresh, healthy food and happy Bolognese atmosphere. If you’re visiting Orange County, make Vitaly a must-do on your list.

Vitaly Caffé
2937 Bristol Street, B100
The Camp
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 662-5500
www.vitaly.net
Mon-Fri  7:30am to  9:30pm
Sat/Sun   8:30am to 10:00pm
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner daily

Header image credit: "Bologna seen from Asinelli tower" by Goldmund100 (Luca Volpi) - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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