From the Editors, Orange County - AOL City Guide
Many Italian restaurant owners boast uncontrollably about how their eatery treats their guests like they're one of the family. It's a nice corporate tagline, but at Pina's Bistro, it's true. The entire dining experience is truly a family affair: Pina, the owner, is the head chef and her daughters make up the majority of the wait staff. Naturally, this bistro is on the small side, but it's also one of warmest and most inviting atmospheric spaces in town. The restaurant's interior design is reminiscent of an Italian grandmother's dining room and the menu matches the hominess perfectly. Classics like chicken parmigiana, lasagna and the Naples-style pizza get the home-cooked treatment with unique seasonings and huge portions. The menu also has a small, but respectable seafood section with impressive shrimp scampi. -- Michael Alarcon
Little Italy in Tustin, CA
I do have some bias in my statements because I'm Italian. That said, let me say that being Italian gives me the ability to tell the difference between Italian food prepared by an Italian chef vs. a trained chef -- for that matter the difference between homemade or freshly made Italian food vs. Italian foods that contain pre-prepared, previously frozen or otherwise "not fresh" ingredients. Pina's it truly homemade "fresh" Italian food, prepared by a true Italian chef. I've been going there for about three months now (about once a week) and have tried almost everything on the menu. The greatest part of all of Pina's homemade dishes is the true presence of authentic central and southern Italian recipes. The prosciutto is by far the best, as are all the parmesan dishes (always tender, never too much breading to hide the flavor of the meat/vegetable and always properly seasoned). I've had two of her specials now, one being sea-bass and the other being clams, both of which were exceptional. You truly do get what you pay for - premium quality home cooked meals - as if I was in my grandmother's kitchen. If you're someone who can appreciate the flavor and texture of fresh handmade sausage (meaning that you don't even by grocery store packaged sausages in an emergency), then Pina's will be a very special treat for you. When you go, be sure to ask Pina how she makes her sausage (she won't mind telling you). In fact, if you've ever wanted to taste something you've never had before, she'll be more than happy to give you a sample as well as explain how it was prepared. The only shame - although maybe it is a blessing - is that Pina's is not open everyday and is a very small restaurant (hence "Bistro"). It is best to go early or late for lunch (by 11:30 AM or after 1:30 PM) and always make reservations for dinner.
A True Italian Restaurant
If you have never been to Italy this is as close as you can get. The food is breathtaking and creates an overwhelming feeling inside. I think it is a family run and they treat you like family.
AUTHENTIC & EXCELLENT
We have eaten at Pina's on a number of occasions, and have never once been disappointed. The food is very authentic, the pasta is always freshly made, and the sauces are terrific. We recommend it to many people!!
The Heart of Italian !
When you go to Pina's Bistro, you get much more than just a meal. Pina,the owner and primary chef is as authentic as her delicious Italian food. The restaurant has a very cozy relaxing atmosphere. The food is always freshly made and if you're not sure what you want, just ask Pina and she'll tell you what she thinks you might enjoy or she'll customize something just to your liking. She takes pride in providing high quality meals made only with the best ingredients. Her daughters are friendly and walking into their establishment is like stopping by a friend's house. Pina's really cares about her customers and if you decide you love her food (and who wouldn't) you don't just become a "regular" you become a friend. It's a great place to bring a friend, family, a date or dine alone .Actually when you dine at Pina's you're not alone. If you’re looking for great food made from the heart, this is the place to go.
Best Italian Food in the area
The food is remarkable. The strip mall that it's in would lead you to believe otherwise, but, once inside, wow, amazing food. Service is great and Pina often pulls away from the kitchen to greet diners.
Try it, you’ll like it!!!
This is a place you definitely would return again and again. This neighborhood bistro is family owned and serves home cooked Italian meals. The pasta is fresh and the bread comes hot to your table. If there is something you want and not on the menu, just ask. The place is very small and always filled, usually with regular clientele. Don't hesitate to try it.
Five Star Review
Me and my wife love this place.... It is quaint and friendly..... I was a bit reluctant to try Pina's a few years ago because it resides in a small strip mall next to 7/11. Hang on to your seat because this is the best Italian you will find in the OC. Pina cooks every plate and uses only the freshest ingredients. Her small bistro is run by her and her family and the homemade sausage is to die for. No matter what dish I order I always add her sausage to it. If nothing on her already amazing menu does not appeal to you, no problem, Pina will make you whatever you like. Do not be afraid to venture out, even though the Penne with sausage and peas with light cream sauce is my favorite and I almost always order it, every dish I have tried has not only been excellent but downright fantastic. Pina's also has a nice wine list and excellent cappuccino and espresso. If you go for lunch the calzone is enough for two but is so good that you will want it all to yourself(and it makes excellent leftovers)..
Santa Ana, CA
I'm surprised no one has reviewed this place yet! This is by far one of the best Italian Restaurants in Orange County, and it's in my home town of Tustin! Pina, the owner is usually in the back cooking up the food with a helper or two, and her daughter's are the waitresses. Inside there are maybe 8 tables, and outside, about 4 tables.
Since I'm into variety, I usually share a bunch of appetizers and maybe one entree with the friend I'm with. The Calamari Umido is my favorite appetizer. The meatballs and the sausage are home made and very delicious! They usually have daily specials so be sure to check out the board. You can bring your own wine for a $10 corkage fee.
Five Star Review
Just came from a dinner at this place, and I must say I am pretty amazed. I had an appetizer, a dinner salad, a full plate of seafood pasta, half a tiramisu and an espresso and I am still not overstuffed or drowsy but I am full, satisfied and absolutely happy. I feel just like I had dinner at my parents' house, a hearty delicious meal cooked by my mother.
First of all, this place is not your regular neighborhood Italian restaurant. Things can get pricey here, but all for a good cause: your happiness and satisfaction. I sat at the patio away from the crowded interior that was too loud for my taste. I had been craving for some home cooked Italian food for a long time and I thought tonight was the right night to give this place a try. And it was absolutely worth it.
Pina's is the proof that sometimes simple is delicious as long as you have that touch. That magic touch makes Pina's a winner. I'll be back for sure...