Just call it Burrissimo

They're calling it a different spin on a tried-and-true concept.

Burrissimo Fresh Italian is a newly opened fast-casual restaurant in Costa Mesa with assembly-line service reminiscent of Chipotle Mexican Grill. But don't expect south-of-the-border-inspired offerings from the 2,650-square-foot restaurant at 1534 Adams Ave.

Patrons first choose one of three entrées: a "burrissimo," pasta bowl or chopped salad bowl. Next comes the choice to add a various assortment of grilled items, sauces, dressings, vegetables and cheeses, to name a few.

"It's a word that we created," said Burrissimo owner John Parlet. "Burrissimo is a spinoff of the word burrito, with an Italian end on it."

The concept is quite possibly the first of its kind on the West Coast, Parlet said. It took about a year of development before opening.

"Everything we do, we try and be uniquely different," he said. "We don't want to be just one of the same ol' whatever."

Parlet is no stranger to Italian foods. After starting his food career as assistant manager of a Kentucky Fried Chicken store, he went the Italian route in the 1970s after opening his own pizza parlor in Ridgecrest, Calif.

In 1997, he founded John's Incredible Pizza Co., a large-scale, buffet-style restaurant replete with games, rides and other entertainment offerings. Based in Rancho Santa Margarita, the chain has nine locations throughout California — the closest is in Buena Park — and a 10th in Oregon.

With Burrissimo, "we decided to do something on a much, much smaller scale," Parlet said. "It's without the game room that we have in our John's, but [we took] the best of what we've learned from our Italian foods and put together something that's fun, interesting, affordable and fairly quick service."

Burrissimo also offers beer, wine, Italian sodas, pepperoni rolls, breadsticks and zeppolas — Italian doughnuts covered with cinnamon sugar. The back counter where the burrissimos and bowls move along is heated, which helps create a hotter end product.

The Adams Avenue business center in the street's 1500 block was perfect for Burrissimo, Parlet said. They wanted a corner location with exposure, an outside patio and plenty of parking.

Twenty-three employees were hired to staff the Costa Mesa location. A second in Brea is in the works, Parlet said.

Pricing for an entrée starts at about $6. Meals with a drink are less than $10. Frequent customers can join a rewards program called Bpoints, which will earn them free entrées.

Burrissimo had its grand opening Dec. 29. A portion of the profits that day benefited the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's "Great Strides" walk in Huntington Beach.

"Our goal is to serve you a healthy, quality meal in a couple minutes," Parlet said. "It's built to your specifications. If you like purple onions, we'll put an extra serving on. If you don't like purple onions, we won't. You make the decisions as you go through the line."


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