Itriya Cafe: Korean-Italian Fusion

The Double Take. That initial glance followed by an exaggerated whipping of the head to emphasize something unexpected or significant. Movie examples that come to mind: Tom Hanks in Dragnet, that one pigeon in the Venice scene from Moonraker, every teenager in every 80s movie, Paul Rudd in Wet Hot American Summer (the best one).  The Double Take – that’s exactly what I did here.

The concept of Korean-Italian fusion seems like a silly gimmick, an attempt to cash in on the craze of Korean fusion cuisine in Southern California. The core idea blends Italian staples with Korean flavors, but the preparation and offerings go far beyond that. Their spaghetti dishes are hearty and well-seasoned, with classic sauces like Bolognese or Vongole outpacing those of local Italian establishments.  The non-traditional options have influences ranging from Asian to Latin, with the Kimchi Bacon being the standout. Delectably pickled cabbage, bacon that’s both chewy and crispy, and perfectly al dente noodles will make you wonder why the Olive Garden is still a thing.

Their flatbreads are served on a wooden paddle, straight from the oven. Easily another winner: Light, airy dough topped with fresh local ingredients. Not heavy at all, which is good because you’ll need the room for one of their piadas. It’s the same dough as the flatbread, folded over like a calzone and stuffed with spaghetti, veggies, and other fillings. I repeat: Pasta, INSIDE OF A PIZZA!

Drinks here are no joke either, with an assortment of non-alcoholic handmade options that will leave you feeling refreshed and carefree about all the god damn calories you just shoved down your gullet. With that, you continue untroubled to desserts such as the Frozen Hot Chocolate, which is exactly what the name suggests. Seriously, I spent 15 minutes trying to think of something clever here, but it’s basically a frozen hot chocolate.

The service here is top notch, with eagerly attentive waitresses checking on you frequently as well as owner Howard Gordon, former VP at the Cheesecake Factory. The furnishings are all designed by Gordon’s wife, who created a sleek modern feel that’s clean and welcoming.

Oh, and a word of advice: Garlic rolls will arrive for your table. Fuck courtesy, grab them all. Your friends can get their own.

Rating: Mile-High Club     First Class     Business     Coach

Check ’em out at:

Itriya Cafe
2740 Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606

(Photography by Eunice Lee)