Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Italian Tomato - Costa Mesa

Japanese bakeries have something in common with other Asian bakeries: they produce cakes and pastries that feature a Zen-like balance of flavors. Less important is how much butter they can cram into the frosting, or how much sugar they can work into the batter -- a practice lamentable in American bake shops, and the reason why I never, ever buy a cake from Albertsons or Ralphs.

There's no danger of such sugar shock at the Italian Tomato, which is located in a prime spot inside the ever popular Mitsuwa food court. Once diners get their fill of ramen, udon, and curry, Italian Tomato is there to entice them with sweets that aren't too sweet.

Recently, we went there specifically for an afternoon of dessert snacking and bought a pair of treats. The first was a crepe ($2.75), which looked like a cannoli, filled with a winning custard and topped with fruit. Inside and towards the center we discovered chunks of sponge cake. Although delicious, we would've preferred more custard. Better was the tiramisu ($4.00), which had a good and generous dusting of coffee/cocoa powder on top and three, feather-light layers of cake separated by whipped cream and a good soaking of coffee. It even came with a white chocolate nametag with the word "Tiramisu" scribbled in script, as if there could be any mistake.

Italian Tomato
Mitsuwa Marketplace
(714) 557-6699
665 Paularino Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626


At 5:47 AM, Blogger Juliet said...

*sigh* I miss the Mitsuwa Marketplace that is just next door to where we used to live. Fortunately, the bakery there, called Pastry House Hippo, also has a location in Novi, which is pretty close to us.
You are right. Asian Bakeries are better because the goods are not too sweet or rich.

At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Japanese: Why do you pick such wacky names for restaurants? Signed: Mexican Sleeping Under a Cactus

At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I've never tried dessert at the italian tomato--I don't know why! I should check them out the next time I'm in Mitsuwa, thanks!!

At 1:16 PM, Blogger 冬冬 said...

I always get the chocolate eclair at Italian Tomato. :) It's delicious and a bargain($2.50)!

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Kathy YL Chan said...

oh man, i love dessert! In hawaii we have a place also called italian tomato, only its a japanese/italian fusion restaurant. there's also an italian tomato in nyc, selling japanese curries and pizza. i had no idea the name was so popular, hehe! :)

At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

after Jollibee, I should know to never be surprised at what gets reviewed in Monster Munching.

I was just in the Mitsuwa-plex on Sunday around 5:00, giving a tour to a visitor...and of course I pointed out Italian Tomato.

At 9:32 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

lol @ gustavo - was thinking the same thing!
Sounds yummy, though.

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Anthony Nguyen said...

The only sweets I ever eat anymore are the Asian fruit tarts and plain cheesecake. Never really been a fan of sugar, my friend made cupcakes last week and the frosting alone made me nauseous.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


You have the taste buds of an Asian! I've been wondering if most consumers out there are taste-impaired, because it is beyond me how they can find that sugar overload palatable. Like when a person who is hard of hearing puts the volume too loud.

Gustavo and christoofat,

I can only answer questions about Indonesians. And only food questions at that. Therefore, here's my first ever installment of "ASK AN INDONESIAN!"


*sound of crickets*


You gotta try the puddings they got too. Cheap, at around $1.50 I think, but good!!!


I've had those eclairs. Delish!


Actually, this place is part of the same chain. They also used to serve pasta and curry, but recently they split the place in two. Italian Tomato side serves strictly desserts, but in the same island and sharing the same cash register, this newer booth called Maestro doles out the pasta and curry. Best part is they include a dessert from the Italian Tomato when you buy a combo from Maestro.


I hope you also pointed out the best ramen joint in OC! Santoka!


Ah, see I'm not the only one! I can't stand cupcakes (which is why I haven't been to Sprinkles in Newport Beach). Take the frosting off, and maybe I'll eat it.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger henrychan888 said...

i remember the good ole' days, when i would just scarf down any cake and not even think about the sugar.... i think it's a *myth* that sugar is bad for ya...hahah.. my mom and grandpa still eat everything we put in front of them.

alright, i just justified myself to go scarf down a cake :p

At 10:02 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


If you scarf these down, you're probably lookin' at less than a few hundred calories. Now compare that to a traditional Betty Crocker cake!

At 4:41 PM, Blogger melissac. said...

have you ever eaten the FOOD at italian tomato/maestro? i've always been curious, but with the lines always so long at santoka ramen and miyabi-tei (and with all the good food i've eaten there), i never venture to the other side of the food court. especially since maestro always seems empty in comparison. any input?

At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i work at miyabi-tei so i'm there pretty often. if you like cheesecake you should try the raspberry cheesecake it's very diff.

At 12:37 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


You know what? I do the same thing. I always get food at either Miyabi or Santoka. Never once did I get a pasta dish or even curry at Maestro/Italian Tomato. Probably should one of these days, just so I can say I did!


I do love cheesecake! In fact, I did try the cheesecake this time, but since I took it to go, and ate it much later, I didn't write about it. The green tea tiramisu is also good BTW.

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Chubbypanda said...

Lol. Cat says she's going to give you hell about this post the next time she sees you, being an American cake connoisseur and all. I think this was the line that really got to her.

"Less important is how much butter they can cram into the frosting, or how much sugar they can work into the batter -- a practice lamentable in American bake shops..."

I'm with you on preferring Asian cakes, but I think you'll have a hard time convincing cake lovin' Americans of the rightness of our cause. =D

At 11:00 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


HA! What is it about Asian palates that prefer subtlety over flavor? American cakes do have flavor in spades, but man is it sweet! Cat and I are going to need to have an arm wrestling match on this.


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