Critic's Preview

Times Restaurant Critic

Cliff's Edge Brunch season is open, so run, don't walk, for a table in Cliff's Edge's raffish two-tiered garden anchored by the enormous spread of a century-old ficus tree. Add in comfy pillows, a hint of breeze and a menu that proposes a classic eggs Benedict, omelet with wild mushrooms and Gruyere, and French toast stuffed with Nutella and accompanied by a sauteed banana flamed in brandy. 3626 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 666-6116; Brunch items, $6 to $18.

Menu Spontanee at Marche Moderne Sometimes you have to set down those shopping bags, and at South Coast Plaza you can do it at Florent and Amelia Marneau's excellent French bistro. Normally not inexpensive, at lunch the restaurant offers a three-course prix fixe menu spontanee for $20 weekdays, $25 weekends. It changes every day, but here are some recent dishes: citrus and endive salad with goat cheese and arugula, roasted duck breast with tarragon-celery root puree or tagine of lamb shoulder with couscous followed by lemon meringue croustillant with sorbet of the day. 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa (714) 434-7900;

Bollini's Pizzeria Napoletana This hole-in-the-wall pizzeria turns out thin-crusted Neopolitan-style pies at rock bottom prices. Chef-owner Cristiano Bollini attended Le Cordon Bleu and cooked at some serious restaurants, but his heart belongs to pizza -- enough that he apprenticed with a pizza maker in Naples. His pizza joint is not much to look at, but the pizzas from a 1,200-degree wood-burning oven transcend all that. Check out the Papo -- shrimp, clams, tomatoes, onions and a smear of olive pesto sparked with Sicilian hot pepper. 2315 S. Garfield Ave., Monterey Park; (323) 722-7600; www.bollinis; pizzas, $10 to $16.

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