Café Corleone's cooks transport the rich culinary landscape of Sicily to the United States through mouthwatering Italian pizzas, pastas, and desserts served in a warmly lit space. Head chef Alongi dazzles taste buds with a menu of seafood, steaks, and flavorful sauces made from seasonal ingredients. Inside, pictures of old Italy pepper the walls and tables frame house-made pizzas and elegant desserts with a dressy-casual outfit of checkered tablecloth. In addition to enrapturing palates with plates of fresh Sicilian fare, Café Corleone keeps eardrums entertained with live music from Ron Nardo and Terry Anfuso, who delight audiences each Saturday night with their renditions of jazz standards, Rat Pack hits, and dubsteb remixes of The Sound of Music soundtrack.
John's Incredible Pizza Co. graces guests with acres of incandescent entertainment options and a fully stocked buffet ($9.49 value, $1.50 value for drinks). In addition to a slew of soups, salads, pasta, desserts, and traditional pizza choices, the buffet brandishes a bouquet of specialty pizza creations, including spicy peanut-butter, barbecue chicken ranch, and alfredo pizza.
When owner Frank White took over this Downey eatery—then called Granata's Italian Restaurant—in 2011, the Granata family had already been serving Italian cuisine there for more than 54 years, according to the Downey Patriot. Today, White still plucks recipes from the family cookbook but has also added his own touch with a new menu of hot and cold Spanish-style tapas. Made with gourmet ingredients such as fresh clams, spanish piquillo peppers, and rich serrano ham, the new plates are small enough to be shared with friends or slingshotted spitefully at enemies. The chefs also use locally sourced ingredients for classic Italian meals whenever possible, festooning linguine carbonara with fresh sweet peas and veal parmigiana with rich tomato sauce.
In the renovated dining area, blue pendant lamps light the full bar and surrounding cherry-wood tables and chairs. Flat-screen TVs share wall space with murals of the Venetian canals where Leonardo da Vinci first learned to jet ski.
When it came time for the team at Johnny Carino’s to come up with some new recipes, they began rifling through their personal cooking histories. Executive chef Chris Peitersen took his first kitchen job at a barbecue joint when he was 14, so he was primed to create Italian baby back ribs. By infusing brown sugar barbecue sauce with balsamic vinegar imported from Modena, he’s given the marinade a more acidic bite than typical barbecue sauces. As the ribs slowly roast and char on an oak grill, he bastes on his creation before finishing the dish with a dusting of parmesan.
The ribs are one of Carino’s many menu items that follow the restaurants’ approach of classic Italian preparations modified by forward-thinking flavor combinations. Diners will find a crispy pepperoni burger capped with mozzarella and fried pepperoni, or sautéed tilapia spiced with garlic and jalapeño. Other signature dishes include the 16-layer lasagna, Skilletinis that sizzle with spaghetti and a choice of meat, and tiramisu made from scratch.
The chefs at FalconesPizza can cater to any pizza palate. Depending on a customer's personal tastes, they toss crusts that are hearty and thick or as thin as the parchment from which Leonardo da Vinci placed his first take-out order. Toppings, too, range from traditional flavors, such as the pesto, garlic, tomatoes, and fresh basil that make up the Napoli, to the inventive combination atop the shrimp pizza, which pairs succulent seafood with chorizo, pepperoni, and onions. Italian meats such as mortadella and capacolla join fresh mozzarella on salads and sandwiches, and family-style trays of baked ziti or lasagna keep large groups from taking over a grocery store.
A Whittier Boulevard fixture for more than 40 years, De Luca's Italian Restaurant continues to showcase the Boot's classic dishes. Inside the kitchen, cooks toss linguini with clams, coat fettuccini and chicken with a creamy, sherry-spiked tomato sauce, and stuff eggplant and mushrooms into vegetarian-friendly calzones. Pizza-wise, they take their cues from New York by rolling housemade dough into a thin-crust pie covered with mozzarella cheese from Wisconsin. That joins medleys of up to 20 toppings—from cappicola to artichoke hearts—as well as eight specialty pies with additional ingredients such as herbed chicken. To complement feasts, bartenders pour plenty of wines from an extensive list of reds, whites, and America's rare blues.