Fresco II owners Lenny and Lea Graffeo are both from New York. Her family is Greek and his is Italian — so the food is where Greece meets Italy.

Regularly voted Antelope Valley’s Best Mediterranean Restaurant, Fresco II has an amazing menu, amazing food and amazing decor — like the cafés in Italy or the taverns in Greece, Fresco II brings a little bit of Europe to the Antelope Valley.

Offering an ambiance that is relaxed, cool and comfortable, Fresco II uses only the finest and freshest ingredients in its authentic and unique cuisine, which includes seafood, steak, lamb, pasta, gourmet pizza and salad, with some recipes that have been passed down for generations.

Last week, my friend Greg and I had the pleasure of dining at Fresco II. We walked in and were greeted by the wonderful aroma of garlic. We asked to be seated in the beautiful lounge and were directed to a nice window table with very comfortable chairs. Greg has lunch there quite often and the server was surprised when he didn’t order his usual, the all-you-can-eat soup, salad and fresh bread lunch special.

Instead, he let me do the ordering, as there were so many delicious-sounding items to try. Almost everyone has been to Fresco II for the amazing dinner menu or Sunday brunch, but I’m here to tell you the lunch menu was just as exquisite. 

It had everything from appetizers (firecracker shrimp, roasted red pepper hummus) to some amazing salads (caprese, Fresco chopped, grilled chicken and avocado), gourmet pizza (spicy eggplant, New York meatball, BBQ chicken), Mediterranean creations (quattro formaggio, penne sausage, bowtie pasta) and the Lenny from Queens Deli (hot pastrami, “The Godfather,” eggplant parm and so much more).

I explained to Greg that since I was doing a food review, we would have to dine family-style, so we could sample a little bit of everything — and everything pretty much consisted of enough for a small army!

 Most of it came from the Lenny from Queens Deli, as the sandwiches feature Boar’s Head meat and cheese, which are always exceptional. Our order started with a Monte Cristo, Philly cheesesteak and classic Rueben for the sandwiches, followed by prawn and artichoke pizza and finished with a mixed baby greens salad.

OK, I will start with the salad. It had lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese and olive oil vinaigrette. It was cool, crisp and yummy with just the right amount of delicious salad dressing. I did forget to mention that a very freshly made, hot, right-out-of-the-oven loaf of bread and wonderful garlic dip was brought to the table, as well. Dipping this amazing bread in my salad dressing made for an awesome tasting experience.

Next came the pizza, which was chock full of giant prawns, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes  and was topped with Feta cheese. This was a culinary delight full of some wonderful flavors, all mixed together with just the right amount of garlic. I brought home a few leftover slices and shared with some friends, who decided to go for lunch the next day and enjoy the full pizza all to themselves.

 The Philly cheesesteak lived up to our expectations and it was “love at first bite.” My first thought was how fresh each of the ingredients was and how you could taste each one, individually. From the thinly sliced meat, to the bell peppers, caramelized onions, provolone cheese, to the light slathering of mayo with a nice tomato slice, that I asked to top it off, it’s a Philly cheesesteak that is worth the trip. We asked for the very flavorful, creamy and ever-so-colorful homemade macaroni salad with an interesting twist. You'll just have to try it for yourself. It has a unique blend of various vegetables.

I never thought I would find a mouth-watering Rueben sandwich at a fine restaurant like Fresco, but boy was I wrong. It’s lean corned beef brisket sliced thin and served on toasted rye with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and homemade Russian dressing. The fresh ingredients take this sandwich over the top and the well-seasoned, crunchy homemade potato chips bring it home. 

Now for the Monte Cristo, which was an excellent combination of unique flavors. If you have never had this sandwich before, this is the perfect place to try it. It features turkey, ham and Swiss cheese stacked between Texas toast, then battered, deep fried and served with raspberry preserves and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Not only is there enough to share, but it's a perfect blend of sweet and savory. The ingredients are extremely fresh and the raspberry preserves set off the whole dish. This is a must-have. Way to go Fresco! This sandwich was served with the most amazing French fries. Yes, Fresco has French fries and they're delicious. They are slightly crisp outside with a fluffy inside. I can't think of a better way to describe them other than saying they are airy, as the fries are so light. Bravo to the chef. 

As Greg was eating that Monte Cristo, he just raved and raved, as we both savored our lunches like two kids in a candy store. I will be dreaming of all those amazing flavors for quite some time.

Fresco II is located at 1311 West Rancho Vista Blvd. (Ave. P) in the Antelope Valley Mall Restaurant Row, 661-947-6677. Coming soon to Quartz Hill, is another unique Graffeo family restaurant — The Ravens Nest. 

Bon appetite!

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