My mom, Addy, and I recently took a girls trip down to Costa Mesa and had such an incredible time!!!
We shopped, explored the town, and ate amazing food. All the restaurants we dined at were incredible, but nothing compared to Vitaly Caffe.
Vitaly Caffe is owned by Maurizio and Barbara Cocchi, native Italians from Bolgna, Italy. They wanted to bring their traditional meals to the U.S. and thus, opened Vitaly. LET ME TELL YOU, this is the best, most authentic Italian food you will EVER have. I don’t think we even had food this good when we visited Italy! (and again, the food in Italy was incredible, this is just how talented Maurizio and Barbara are!)
Vitaly is located at the CAMP in Costa Mesa. The CAMP is an adorable outdoor shopping center with restaurants, wine bars, and unique little shops. We got there early and snagged some home grown supplements and like-new thrifted designer clothes. There is plenty to do if you are waiting for a table or want to arrive early for a reservation like we did and walk around.
When we arrived to Vitaly we were warmly greeted by the hostess and sat in their outdoor patio by the fire. The setting is intimate and cozy. It sets the stage for a wonderful meal and great night out. Visiting Vitaly is more than just having dinner. It is a true Italian experience. From the Caffe style (which in Italy doesn’t mean coffee shop) to the house made Gelato, the owners treating you like family, and friendly staff. You leave with your stomach and hearts full.
We started off the night with a glass of imported Vino and from there our glass was never empty. While we were looking over the menu we got to chat with the owner Maurizio. He shared with us their journey coming to America and opening Vitaly 9 years ago, as well as an incredible accomplishment of theirs. Vitaly is an official Slow Food restaurant which is incredibly hard to accomplish!
Slow Food is ..”Seeking to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system, Slow Food USA reconnects Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. We inspire individuals and communities to change the world through food that is good, clean and fair for all.”
How it started is over thirty years ago, a large group of Italians gathered in Rome for a protest. Why? A fast food franchise was opening at the base of the iconic Spanish Steps. Instead of throwing rocks and yelling, the activists brought in a big bowl of penne pasta and shared it with the crowd that gathered, chanting:
We don’t want fast food.
We want Slow Food!
That gathering was the birth of the Slow Food movement. Food represents a common language and universal right. Slow Food USA envisions a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet. In essence, food that is good, clean and fair. [Source: https://slowfoodusa.org/about/]
To become a registered Slow Food restaurant, you have to prove that all your dishes are created with 100% hand crafted ingredients. Vitaly’s pasta isn’t from a box but made from scratch with love. And you can taste it in every single bite.
This made me fall even more in love with Vitaly. My husband and I have a passion for good food and it is so rare & special to find a place that devotes so much love into every dish.
We had a late lunch and unfortunately skipped over getting any appetizers and went straight to our meal. I ordered the Lasagna alla Bolognese which is made with organic flour homemade pasta, bechamel, and topped with their slow cooked parmigiano reggiano and ragu bolognese meat sauce. The noodles were al dente which is my FAVORITE & the flavor was nothing like I have ever experienced in the states. This dish was a true testament to the owner Maurizio hometown Bologna.
My mom had the Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli also made with organic flour homemade pasta. Made with butter, parmigiano reggiano and sage, topped with a tomato basil sauce. The basil was SO fresh you could smell it across the table. The best way to describe the sauce is smooth and full of flavor. You don’t have the acidic taste you get from canned or jarred tomato sauce. What stood out to me about the sauce was there wasn’t an abundance of salt. It was seasoned skillfully and to perfection. The main ingredients stole the flavor show & they didn’t need to overcompensate with salt.
I can’t say we had much conversation because we were too busy making sure we got every.last.bite. Addy even got a plate of butter, garlic noodles that kept her happy the entire meal. (This baby has had some pretty bougie meals in her short little life. I mean she was enjoying pasta most people don’t have the pleasure of trying).
Once dinner was over we opted to sample all the Gelato they offer. Vitaly Caffe uses the freshest ingredients (no syrups or artificial flavors) and carefully mixes the ingredients by hand. Then they bake it so the ingredients infuse together. After it’s baked is when they freeze it to transform it into authentic Italian Gelato. My favorite was the tiramisu gelato and pineapple basil sorbet.
We were sad for the night to be over but were leaving with full stomachs and even fuller hearts. This was one of our best experiences in Costa Mesa and a restaurant I will ALWAYS come back too. (They are only 20 minutes from Disneyland!! It is SO worth it to make the trip for dinner). We loved the food SO much, we had to come back the next day for breakfast and mimosas- WHICH WAS JUST AS DELICIOUS AS DINNER WAS!
If you are in the area or passing through, make sure to stop for a visit at Vitaly Caffe. You won’t regret it and might find this restaurant is an adventure in itself.
Thank you Maurizio and Barbara Cocchi for treating us like family and for pouring so much love, passion, and devotion into your restaurant. It is so appreciated, valued, and you can taste it with every bite.