Polish cuisine has finally made its way to Newport Beach, but it’s not what you might think.
Makarun, the largest network of spaghetterias in Poland, has opened its first U.S. location at the food court in Fashion Island.
Billed as a healthy, fresh fast food option offering various pasta and pizza dishes, the U.S. version of Makarun has a slightly modified menu from the locations in Poland. Here, the dishes are heathier and designed for vegetarians, gluten-free and health-conscious individuals, as well as diners looking for a great pasta meal at a great price served fast. While you’ll find things like zucchini noodles next to the traditional spaghetti, Makarun added mac and cheese to the Newport menu.
Founded in 2012 by three university students in Kraków, Poland, Makarun has since expanded into a thriving network of 28 spaghetteria locations across four continents including Europe, Africa, Middle East, and now the United States. Named the Best Fast Food Restaurant in Poland by the Food Business Awards in 2016, Makarun has served up over four million meals in restaurants, malls, food trucks, and public eateries since its founding.
“We were students looking for money and something cheap to eat,” stated co-owner Marcin Szworak, who flew from Poland to Newport Beach for the restaurant’s opening in late September. “Yesterday we opened a location in Poland, today Newport Beach, tomorrow Dubai. Maybe this is the beginning of something. We are the best pasta in Poland, always we are working, talking about the company every day, we work hard to try to do something great.”
I sampled some pasta and pizza, and I agree — they are doing something great. My mushroom and tomato spaghetti with white sauce was so flavorful that I found myself scraping the plate for the last taste.
Szworak told me that they try and change the menu with the seasons, and that the partners make frequent visits to Italy looking for inspiration to bring back to Poland.
One popular item in Poland that did not go over as well as hoped in Newport was curry pasta, so the only sauces you’ll see at the Newport Makarun are Italian, and they’re made fresh every day. Most ingredients are organic, and each dish is made to order as guests watch their meals being prepared.
Makarun is open daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
For more information, visit Makarunus.com.
Upcoming Food Festivals
Two food festivals are coming up this month featuring a handful of local chefs.
First up is The Taste held at The MET in Costa Mesa on Oct. 18–19, an annual food and drink festival celebrating the diverse and vibrant flavors of Southern California. Originally created by the Los Angeles Times to showcase L.A. chefs, the festival expanded to Orange County last year.
Samplings from restaurants and bars include Newport Beach-based Color Wine, Laguna’s Driftwood Kitchen, Harley Laguna Beach, Las Brisas, Tackle Box, The Ranch at Laguna Beach, Louies by the Bay, Olea, Billy’s at the Beach, Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, and CUCINA enoteca.
On Oct. 19, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos founder Wing Lam will cook up his legendary Baja-style fish tacos and discuss the start of his iconic SoCal brand.
General admission tickets are $80 to $100. VIP tickets are also available.
For more information, visit events.latimes.com/taste.
The other food and wine festival is Chef Masters, benefiting Alzheimer’s Family Center, which will take place at the Paséa Resort & Spa in Huntington Beach on Oct. 27, 3:30–8:30 p.m.
This culinary extravaganza will offer guests a two-hour gourmet tasting food and wine reception on the resort’s alfresco terrace featuring 30 top chefs, restaurants and wineries in California.
Following the tasting, guests will enjoy a dessert presentation in the Grand Ballroom and have the opportunity to bid on live auction items. Entertainment will be provided by The Johnny Holiday Show with the Dean Mora Orchestra.
Participating restaurants and chefs include Pascal Olhats of Café Jardin, Andy Arndt from Newport Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, David Martin from The Pacific Club Newport Beach, David Shofner of Fable & Spirit, Diego Bernal and Erick Sandvan from Coliseum Pool & Grill at The Resort at Pelican Hill, Jessica Roy from Café Jardin, Noe Moreno of True Food Kitchen, Markus Hagan from Cannery Seafood of the Pacific, Riley Huddleston from The Mayor’s Table at Lido House, and Sean Gebo from Renaissance Newport Beach.
Tickets start at $350. Table sponsorships are available.
For more information visit afscenter.org/chef-masters.
Newport Beach Wine & Food Report
Last week’s sixth annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival was without a doubt the best one yet. The weekend grand tastings were indeed grand, with dozens of restaurants and wineries offering more food and wine than could be consumed in a day, much less a week.
The ancillary events were also impressive. The Friday eve “Fire It Up” barbecue on the lawn at Balboa Bay Resort was a fun and casual affair, with a handful of restaurants serving barbecued bites alongside several cocktail bars featuring everything from beer to bourbon.
On Saturday I attended a fascinating Riedel stemware seminar and learn what a difference proper wine glasses make in the tasting of good wine.
So impressed, I bought two new Riedel wine glasses later that day.
Saturday afternoon was the first of two Grand Tasting events, with dozens of restaurants serving signature bites along with dozens of wineries pouring hundreds of different wines.
It was a feast for the senses. Among my favorites: Andrea Restaurant, The Winery, Ocean at Main, Tackle Box, and Mix-Mix.
I was happy to see Richard Moriarty and his Newport Beach Winery vino. His OC Red and Estate blend are excellent, and still available at Irvine Ranch Market. Other favorites included Daou Winery, Justin, and Wrath (great pinot noirs).
On Sunday I was lucky enough to enjoy a Cristal and Caviar tasting.
This elite event included generous sips of the 2008, 2006 and 2002 Cristal vintages, plus a 2008 rose. When paired with superb Petrossian caviar, this was an indulgent and unforgettable experience.
The Sunday grand tasting was a repeat of Saturday but with different restaurants. I was also lucky to enjoy the Diamond Lounge, a new experience this year that featured exclusive tastings of Hundred Acre, Opus One, rare Justin wines, and other wines to delight the palate.
Overall, a truly impressive event. I’m looking forward to lucky year number seven in 2020.