Inspired by the same brainwaves as the Build-A-Bear Workshop, RIDEMAKERZ allows visitors construct a customized toy car from the axles up with dozens of options that add up to nearly 650 million unique combinations. Guests begin by choosing a body from a stock of Vipers, Corvettes, Mustangs, trucks, and hot rods that can then be accessorized with free stock parts or specialty chassis, tires, rims, and oil slicks. The hot-lava Chevy Camaro ($32) sports a metaphor for the rubber it plans to burn with orange flames on its sides, and the jewel-blue RZ Rascal body pairs its smooth curves with working headlights and taillights ($22). Sets of multicolored or racing slick tires maintain traction while pushed across carpets, hardwood floors, or up the sides of living-room furniture ($4 for two). Glistening hubcaps ($3–$4 for two), undercarriage-glow lighting ($10), and other car accessories offer further customization, while sound-effect chips ($3) relieve vocal cords strained by persistent engine imitations. Builders can also upgrade to a radio-controlled street chassis ($25) to assert hands-free control over the vehicle's movements.
Linguini, penne, spaghetti, and fettuccini—the chefs at Carolina’s Italian Restaurant have been preparing pasta in its many incarnations for more than three decades. But their time-tested cooking techniques aren't the only reason for the robust flavors in their classic Italian cuisine. Ingredients are delivered five times a week, ensuring that each tomato is as fresh as the day its life coach finally coaxed it off the stem. Quality seafood and meats such as Atlantic salmon and new york steak put a finishing touch on many entrees.
After diners polish off their meals, they can indulge in a dessert such as housemade tiramisu or cannoli drizzled with chocolate syrup. Then, they can lean back and admire the wall murals of Italian countryside and verandas, or watch confused airplanes circle the ceiling's painted blue sky.
At The Pizza Press, staffers wear newsboy caps as they take orders for personal pizzas named after famous papers, which arrive at tables atop wooden pizza peels lined with faux-newsprint. Patrons can feast on the Tribune, a mix of pepperoni, italian sausage, and red onion, or "publish" their own, adding a cornucopia of fresh ingredients and sprinkling on the whiskers of famous editors. Patrons hoist frosty glasses into the air, toasting the continued existence of cheese, then nurse seasonal and craft beers from local breweries. Recent offerings have included the Saint Archer I.P.A., which the San Digeo brewery makes with seven types of hops, as well as brews from Hangar 42, Speakeasy, and Bootlegger's Brewery.
While the beer and wine selections are an adults-only treat, younger patrons can feast on kid-sized pizzas, then start eyeing desserts?a practice in which grown-ups may also wish wish to join in. The root beer float station, complete with artisan ice cream, lets patrons create their own frothy treats, and handmade ice-cream sandwiches create the best kind of mess. Afterward, families can head over to Disneyland, which is located right across the street.
When Pennsylvania native Mike Abeyta moved to the West Coast, he noticed that something he loved was absent from the culinary landscape: Philadelphia-style italian ice. To rectify this geographical oversight, he opened Joe's Italian Ice. Today, the ice shop's red, white, and green awning serves as an oasis of refreshment amid sun-baked parking lots throughout Arizona and California. Inside, more than 50 flavors are made on-site with real fruit, ranging from lemon, chocolate, and passion fruit to weirder variations that boast names like "Dangerberry" and "Smurf Poison."
Joe's isn't a one-trick pony, though; the shops also specialize in a soft-serve ice cream that's found in only a few places back east. The Pennsylvania dairy that ships the ice cream to Joe's cooks it at ultra-high temperatures to give it a markedly creamier texture and sweeter finish. Joe's frozen wares can also serve as the base for shakes and sundaes and overly whimsical skyscrapers topped with candy or fruit.
For great Italian food and pizza at bargain basement prices, head to Haus of Pizza in Garden Grove. Located on Harbor Boulevard, Haus of Pizza dishes up hot, savory pies and other Italian favorites such as salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and more. Locals love the Haus Special pizza, featuring eight toppings for the price of five, including pepperoni, Canadian bacon, sausage, onions and peppers. The pizza is stick-to-your-ribs delicious and the appetizers, and Haus of Pizza offers family meal deals for an even deeper discount on their already-fabulous prices. Come see for yourself why Haus of Pizza is the talk of Garden Grove.
Owner and CNN Hero, Bruno Serato, presents diners with variegated menus packed with Italian and seafood entrees prepared under the culinary eye of Executive Chef Eddie Meza. Bob for apples of dough with the gnocchi gorgonzola, with small potato and flour dumplings soaking up the flavor of tomato and gorgonzola sauce ($14.95 lunch; $19.95 dinner). The restaurant's signature dish, brasato piemontese, sports boneless beef short ribs braised in an italian barolo reduction for three hours and topped with a touch of horseradish and a dash of extravagance ($22.95 lunch; $30.50 dinner). Steamed salmon sweetens its style atop belgiun white chocolate mashed-potato purée ($23.95 lunch; $29.95 dinner), and the pesce bianco's sautéed whitefish inherits a spicy attitude by hanging around moroccan couscous and japanese peppers ($17.95 lunch only).