Northern Exposure at the new Francoli


Once inside Francoli Gourmet Emporio in Fashion Island, you could always lose yourself fairly easily in the rosy prosecco, imploring Italian staccato of the staff and the woodsy funk of Bresaola ‘Carpaccio’. 

Brilliant Bresaola.

Still, the location wasn’t ideal. There’s nothing like parking structures, mall cops and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels to kill the mood for a spontaneous evening.  

The F.I. site has been shuttered for over seven months now, giving the family a chance to reimagine the restaurant,  opened two weeks ago,  in Old Town Orange.   

The transition from Irvine Co. topiary-and-terra-cotta habitat to organic,  stumble-upon spot with patio views overlooking the historic plaza fountain is a natural for Francoli. 

 Along with Gabbi’s and Haven Gastropub , Francoli completes the restaurant triage team that has systematically defibrillated the formerly decrepit stretch of Glassell. There’s so little parking and so many pedestrians these days, it feels something akin to Laguna’s Forest Avenue.    

Francoli-philes will be thrilled to note that the menu remains exactly the same as it was in Newport Beach leaving the staff to focus on providing engaging service and wearing beautiful shoes that look as if they might be featured on The Sartorialist.   

Francoli continues to inspire with dishes such as Ravioli D’ Brasato: six, maybe seven pasta sachets filled with tender chopped beef short rib meat and bathed in a light vodka cream sauce. Gnocchi Bolognese was decent, but lacked depth of flavor and complexity needed to justify the price. 

Ravioli D'Brasato.

Sandwiches are done in the minimalistic Italian style you see stacked in glass cases in bars and paninotecas of Milan. The philosophy is unadorned sustenance between bread. If  sandwiches are your thing, go to Cafe Lucca   down the street.   

Slow Ride.

Inside, the inviting demi-lune bar is reminiscent of  the former Francoli. That’s because it was trucked over and cut to fit the smaller locale. The popular wine wall is back with vino from all twenty regions of Italy. 

Gauzy orange and white custom Murano chandeliers drip sexy amber light like a honeycomb while a twenty something  wearing high tops and reading Bill Buford’s Heat savors a plate of antipasti and glass of red.   

This is where Francoli excels, as a vehicle for what we as a culture don’t have and won’t make time for: guilt free undocumented time to eat slow food. Time to sit and enjoy a meal that isn’t part of another obligation-fulfilling category. 

Why do we always have to be good?” mused my waiter emphatically as I paired a lovely salmon filet adorned in capers and tomatoes with iced tea at lunchtime.  And with that, I promptly switched to a beguiling Orvieto to while away the hours.100 S. Glassell St. Orange 714.288.1077. Dinner for two, $70.00, food only.


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3 Responses to “Northern Exposure at the new Francoli”

  1. Murano chandeliers Says:

    ..Gauzy orange and white custom Murano chandeliers drip sexy amber light like a honeycomb while a twenty something wearing high tops..

    Wonderful description!

  2. Weekly roundup: More Restaurant Week - Food Frenzy : The Orange County Register Says:

    […] Galley Girl visits the new Francoli Gourmet Emporio in Orange […]

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