In 1959, Domenic Donato ventured from his hometown of Cosenza, Italy, to California, where he opened his first Italian restaurant with recipes from his mother, Rosa, whom he considers the best cook in Italy. Donato soon opened a succession of Italian restaurants now owned and operated by his sister, brother, and sons. In 2006, Donato passed down Mangia Italiano on Third to close family friends Adam and Kathy. The pair faithfully continues to follow the recipes passed down through generations of the Donato family, as well as adding modern twists to Italian classics.
Inside the kitchens, chefs bake eggplant parmigana with ricotta and romano cheese and lightly flour and saut? veal with fresh mushrooms and marsala wine sauce. In the dining area, murals of Italian seascapes are dotted with white sails puffing in the wind and depict ancient ruins full of crumbling columns and Betamax players. When not inspecting the restaurant's art, patrons can dig into plates of housemade cannolis and tiramisu.
Every pizza at zpizza is freshly prepared, hand thrown, gently coaxed into the oven using soft birdcalls and pheromone trails, and fire-baked to crispy perfection. The dough is prepared fresh daily from 100% certified-organic wheat, and z is also happy to offer certified organic and gluten-free crusts, sating the pizza desire of the allergic, dieters, and wheat sympathizers. Toppings include award-winning Wisconsin skim mozzarella, MSG-free pepperoni, certified-organic tomato sauce, additive-free sausage, and fresh produce. Try a large ZBQ pizza (with barbecue sauce, mozzarella, barbecue chicken, roasted pepper, red onion, tomato, cilantro, and sweet corn ($16.95); or a chicken curry and yam rustica (with mozzarella, curry chicken, yam, mango chutney, raisin, and cilantro; $8.95). Vegans can delight in a small Berkeley, a vegan cheese veggie pizza (with marinara, vegan cheese, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, tomato, mushroom, red onion, and bell pepper; $11.50), and traveling tongues can sate their wanderlust with a mouthwatering Moroccan rustica (with pesto, mozzarella, basil, roasted eggplant, feta cheese, caramelized onion, and pine nut ($8.95).
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.
Owner and head chef Francesco Basile cut his culinary teeth as a young boy in his native Sicily, peeling potatoes and cleaning fish for traditional family feasts. After graduating from culinary school, Francesco broadened his skills and palate, mastering meals of hand-rolled pappardelle at Italian resorts and learning to craft mouthwatering feasts of Italian-American fare at bustling restaurants in southern California. By opening Antica Trattoria in 2001, he built a business dedicated to cooking with fresh ingredients and celebrating simple, traditional Italian dishes, enrapturing diners with meals of pepper-crusted pork loin, melted brie with figs jam, and seafood stews swimming in tomato-herb broth. Together with right-hand-cook Eric Ruiz, Francesco changes his menu with the seasons, delivering seafood plates tinged with the aroma of fresh herbs and fennel in the spring and walnut cream sauces and pumpkin ravioli in the autumn.
The restaurant exudes a rustic, timeless charm, with walls of bare brick decorated with tops of wooden wine crates and colorful murals of idyllic Italian countryscapes. A towering china hutch in the rear dining area evokes images of a grandmother's kitchen, and an elegant marble-topped wine bar brings forth memories of a grandmother's secret speakeasy, inviting diners to sample tasty digestifs of fine vino from across Italy, France, and the Pacific coast.
Since the 1960s, Nonno's Italian Restaurant has remained La Mesa's hub for classic Italian dishes and gourmet pizzas. Executive Chef Gerardo Ortiz continues the eatery's tradition with artfully plated entrees, such as eggplant parmesan and smoked wild salmon coated with vermouth cream sauce. Chef Ortiz crafts his lasagnas entirely from-scratch, layering noodles with Italian sausage and beef or, for vegetarians and cockeyed sailors preparing for a bout of fisticuffs, spinach and ricotta. Gerardo likewise makes his pizza dough and sauce in-house daily, covering them with real mozzarella and a choice of nearly 20 toppings, including meatballs and asparagus. To complement Gerardo's cuisine, Nonno's stocks an extensive wine selection that diners can enjoy by the glass or bottle.