Through his many restaurants, Alessandro Pirozzi has proven he knows how to create the perfect Italian eatery. For Salerno, he revamped an old red-sauce joint and transformed it into something that’s simultaneously modern and classic. No, you can’t get pizza (there’s simply no room in the microscopic kitchen for a proper oven), but you can—for the first time in a Pirozzi-branded place—customize your meat entrée and sauce from a variety that includes elk and ostrich. Since pasta is the main draw, everything from squid-ink-tinted noodles to ravioli stuffed with rabbit can be had. With the three other Pirozzi restaurants and now Salerno, you never need to do the Never Ending Pasta Bowl® at Olive Garden.
220 Beach St., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-2600; salernolb.com.
Readers’ Choice: Roma D’ Italia