Greer's OC: Get a cut, help Japan

In response to the recent tsunami and earthquake in Japan, Marinello Schools of Beauty is holding a Japan Relief Cut-A-Thon in Huntington Beach through Saturday. The school will offer $5 haircuts; all proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross for relief efforts in Japan.

Since 1905, Marinello Schools of Beauty has offered beauty education and affordable spa and salon services performed by student stylists under the supervision of licensed instructors.

Marinello is at 19022 Brookhurst St. in Huntington Beach. For more information, call (714) 962-8831.


Italian cuisine in coastal O.C.

Ever since Cucina Alessa brought its Italian cuisine goodness to Laguna Beach when it opened its third location in November, we feel that the coast has been well fed thanks to Chef Alessandro Pirozzi, who owns the original Cucina Alessa in west Newport Beach and in Huntington Beach.

The Laguna Beach restaurant boasts a prosciutto-and-mozzarella bar (like its Newport Beach location) and serves nearly the same menu — minus a few dishes and no breakfast.

Expect the same delicious homemade pastas that Alessa is famous for (even whole wheat upon request), reasonable prices and big helpings.

Pirozzi divides his time between the three restaurants, but while he's in he always takes the time to greet each table.

The calamari here is perfectly crisp and light with a zesty arrabbiata sauce ($9.75); and we adore the antipasti, three meatballs in ragú topped with burrata served with focacetta ($15.99); and the simple, yet perfect pappardelle Bolognese with homemade ribbon-shaped pasta is wonderful ($12).

The pizza here is also worth noting — the crusts are thin and crisp all the way through. And you won't be disappointed by the main dishes. Salmon capperi and poloo al limone are two favorites, but unless you have an Italian grandmother at home making fresh pasta, you'd be foolish to pass up on Alessa's pasta.

Happy hour is offered at Alessa's Huntington Beach location only, which Edwin Goei at OC Weekly says is one of the best happy hours in the county.

The Laguna Beach restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and located at 234 Forest Ave. For more information, call (949) 497-8222.

Both Newport Beach and Huntington Beach restaurants are open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and breakfast is served on weekends at 8 a.m. The Newport Beach restaurant is located at 6700 W. Coast Highway in Newport Beach. For more information, call (949) 645-2148.

The Huntington Beach restaurant is located at 520 Main St. For more information, call (714) 969-2148 or visit


Kids can eat free at Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill is rolling out a new kids' menu and, to celebrate it, will give kids' free meals every Saturday and Sunday in April. The catch is that the meal is free when parents purchase a burrito, salad, burrito bowl or order of tacos. Chipotle proudly uses ingredients from sustainable sources, including naturally raised meats, organic and local produce and dairy without added hormones.

The new kids' menu features quesadillas, single tacos and a build-your-own taco kit, all priced under $5. To find a Chipotle in Orange County, visit


Opera meets indie rock

There's still a chance to experience an exclusive performance of opera superstar Renée Fleming singing operatic versions of indie rock songs at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. Fleming will be in town for one night only at 8 p.m. Tuesday performing classical selections and operatic rock. Some covers will include Death Cab for Cutie, Muse, Arcade Fire and the Mars Volta.

You can also purchase tickets in prime box circle seats and attend a reception with Fleming. For more information, call the Philharmonic Society at (949) 553-2422 or the center at (714) 556-2787, or visit

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts is at 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.


Fresh new flavors at Rustica

It's no secret that the best chefs incorporate the season's freshest produce to their dishes. And spring means fresh new flavors at Rustica California Wine Bistro at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Chef Ren just rolled out a new farm-fresh lunch and dinner menu, which includes spring vegetable ragout, homemade English pea ravioli, morel cream, artichoke barigoule, Weiser Farm carrots, char-grilled asparagus, stuffed squash blossoms, fresh chanterelle mushrooms and shaved raw asparagus.

Try the pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras with homemade doughnuts and pineapple chutney; the crispy skin filet of Branzino with artichoke barigoule and baby round carrots; and the oven-roasted pork porterhouse with Israeli couscous, dried apricots and bacon marmalade.

Chef Ren is a stickler for knowing where his produce and meats come from to ensure best quality and taste. His carrots come from Weiser Family Farms, free-range chicken from Mary's and vegetables from Kenter Canyon Farms.

With its spring menu, Rustic offers half off all wine by the glass or bottle Mondays and Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to close.

Rustica is at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. For more information, call (949) 706-8282 or visit


Book signing for 'Milf'

Join Elie Tahari at Fashion Island in Newport Beach for a fun book-signing event from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday of "Got Milf?: The Modern Mom's Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great, and Rocking a Minivan" by Sarah Maizes. You can indulge on food, sip a signature Milf-tini and enjoy a humorous look at motherhood as seen through the eyes of Maizes, an author, stand-up comedian and founder of a comical parenting site. All guests will receive a book and a $100 gift card to spend at Elie Tahari during the event.

Elie Tahari will give 10% of sales from that night to Autism Speaks. The boutique is at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. For more information, call (949) 258-7933.

GREER WYLDER writes Greer's OC for the Huntington Beach Independent each Thursday and the Daily Pilot and Coastline Pilot each Friday. She's the founder and president of, a free daily e-mail service that provides the latest in Orange County fashion, dining, music, events and trends. Her blog can be viewed at and she can be contacted at

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