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Bistango Family Opens Press & Moka

Bistango restaurant in Irvine has long been a hotspot for business lunches and elegant dinners. Owned by the Ghoukassian family, Bistango and its sister restaurant Bayside in Newport Beach have been making diners happy for more than 30 years.

Now, Marc Ghoukassian is making morning clients happy with his new venture, Press & Moka, which opened earlier this year across the street from Bistango, along Von Karman Avenue and about a mile from John Wayne Airport.

It’s no ordinary coffee shop, Press & Moka has a European look and feel, with ambiance and menu to match.

The café offers a variety of coffee drinks, fresh pastries baked in-house, a grab-and-go section with everything from salads to entrees, and an impressive array of sandwiches, soups and sides.

“Everything here is French or Italian, near where I grew up,” said Ghoukassian. “I wanted this to be as authentic as possible.”

The décor includes a display of coffee grinders and other nods to France and Italy. Even the café’s name is a play on words.

“The Press is a French press, and the Moka is the Italian moka pot,” Ghoukassian explained.

Condo Development

So why this, why now?

“There are no coffee shops around here, and I wanted to do something based around the south of France and Italy, where I am from. This building used to house a deli, but the pandemic hit, and they left.”

Press & Moka is surrounded by high-rise office buildings, and now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased, office workers are returning to their offices, albeit at a slow pace.

However, Ghoukassian also knew that two condo communities will be opening across the street from the Press & Moka location, in the distinctive Airport Tower office building, so he’ll soon have a built-in clientele that will be eager to savor a morning latte or espresso.

Fresh Food, Free Parking

More details about Press & Moka: The café has a large kitchen and no microwave, meaning everything that comes out is fresh and not reheated. The background music features jazz standards, the outside seating area is colorful and comfortable with a bocce ball court for those who want to enjoy a classic Italian pastime while sipping their coffee.

There’s plenty of free parking, always an important consideration for any endeavor set amid a busy intersection of businesses and condo communities.

“It’s been great so far, we’ve been very well received,” Ghoukassian stated. “I did not think we’d be so successful so fast.”

Press & Moka has introduced a number of seasonal coffee drinks, including rosemary cardamom latte, white chocolate raspberry latte, spiced winter white chocolate, sleigh ride with peppermint and marshmallow, and peppermint mocha. You can top them all off with house-made pumpkin whipped cream.

Baked treats include pumpkin streusel muffins and pumpkin chocolate loaves.

The OCBJ Review

Marc Ghoukassian had me try the Press & Moka variety of espresso, which was strong yet smooth. I also had a pumpkin spice latte, a croissant with maple butter, and—upon his recommendation—a Soppressata & Caciocavallo (Italian salami and cheese) panini with vine ripened tomatoes and basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic glaze, served on dried herb focaccia.

The sandwich was as authentic as the décor, the coffee warm and comforting, and the maple butter spread on the croissant was a decadent treat. I also took a pumpkin chocolate loaf to go, which made for a delicious afternoon snack.

Press & Moka: 18881 Von Karman Ave., Ste. 175, Irvine, (949) 852-8222, pressandmoka.com

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