Amidst the touristy hustle and bustle of Downtown Anaheim lies a hidden gem. No, I am not referring to Angel Stadium, or even the Happiest Place on Earth. That hidden gem is Cortina’s Italian Market. Cortina’s is a quaint little Italian pizzeria with an adjacent delicatessen, which operates as one entity. In their restaurant, they serve pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and salads. Now I know this sounds like nothing special, but let me tell you, this is the closest taste of Italy you’ll get an ocean away in Southern California, and in a homey environment at that! Trust me when I say they use the freshest and highest-quality ingredients; it is immediately evident with the first bite.
My favorite day to go is Friday, when their signature Cortina Special is a few cents cheaper (and this makes a difference!). The Cortina Special is 6 inches of heaven – Italian cold cuts including capicolla, mortadella, cotto salami, and dry salami; provolone cheese; lettuce; tomatoes; onions; peppercinis; and house Italian dressing. You cannot try this and tell me this is just a sandwich. Truly, the unique and copious blend of quality cold cuts lends itself to a flavorful mouthgasm. My other default sandwich here is their Caprese Sandwich. I’ve tried other Caprese sandwiches and salads, and have even attempted to replicate it at home, but it’s never the same. Their Caprese Sandwich is a simple recipe of pure awesomeness – fresh tomato, basil, and mozzarella, with their secret basil pesto sauce (my hunch is a mix of basil pesto, olive oil, and mayo). It is unimaginably palatable, impossible to replicate, and I don’t know of anywhere else that serves it like this (most places use just a standard balsamic vinaigrette). In addition, I have tried their meat lasagna, pepperoni pizza, and confectionary pastries, and all of them get my seal of approval. See for yourself: Once you get a taste of Cortina’s, you can’t go back to fast food Italian chains. (For more specific foodie reviews, I suggest checking them out on Yelp.)
In their full-service market, they sell quality meats, cheeses, wines, and more. Emphasis on quality! If you ever need fresh slabs of choice cheeses and salami for a much-needed wine and cheese girls’ night in, Cortina’s covers all your bases. And if you’re like me and crave those Kinder chocolate bars from childhood, the irresistible, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate originally sold by the Italian confectionery Ferrero, they have those too! Besides everything aforementioned, their little delicatessen has the charm and appeal of a cozy mom-and-pop shop, which I am so very fond of. For those who live in the Golden State (more specifically sunny Orange County) Cortina’s is a must-try for a casual dining experience, be it lunch or dinner – or better yet, linner. And for those abroad, I implore you to visit Italy so I can live vicariously through you… and send me some imported cheese and salami while you’re at it ;).