Though Serritella's Italian Restaurant has tripled in size since opening in 1965, its chefs are still serving many of the same original dinner recipes—including veal and chicken marsalas and cheese-laden parmigianas. Tomato-red walls preview baked lasagna and marinara-ladled pizzas strewn with inventive topping options such as clams, artichoke hearts, and fresh anchovies. A wine menu at the polished wooden bar quenches thirst, and vintage framed artwork can be searched for the artist's secretly imbedded ATM pin.
In 1968, a decade after moving from Carlantino, Italy, to the United States, the Guerrera family opened its first restaurant. Today, all three Roma's Pizza and Pasta locations boast family members behind the counter and Old-World recipes on the menu. Tony Guerrera can still be found in the kitchen tossing the dough used to build Roma's specialty pizzas, which range in intensity from the elegant Bianca made with oil, garlic, and cheese up to the mega meat-combo pie piled with seven types of meat. A slate of hearty pastas hewn from similarly traditional ingredients gives diners an opportunity to show off the retractable forks scientists implanted in their hands.
The aroma of beef and veggie patties, frankfurters, and sliced steak sizzling on the grill fills the kitchen at Mr. Pickles Sandwich & Burger Shop. where chefs busily craft no-nonsense burgers and sandwiches. They keep more fixings at hand for build-your-own sandwiches, which incorporate classic deli ingredients from sweet rolls and cream cheese to tuna salad and pastrami. Specialty sandwiches include the salami and ham combo of the Big Tony and the teriyaki-soaked chicken of the St. Francis, whose namesake became famous for introducing the concept of marination to Rome. Though a cozy dining area accommodates guests feasting in-house, chefs also cook meals for pickup and catered events.
Young, ambitious, and passionate about Japanese cuisine, Chef Alexander Chong takes to sushi the way an artist takes to canvas. He lords over his open bar, nimbly slicing up rolls with ultra-fresh fish and innovative ingredients such as jalapeños, deep-fried yam, and barbecue sauce, arranging pieces to complement the ingredients’ colors and flavors. Behind him, deep in the kitchen, chefs fillet fresh seafood for sushi dinners and labor over stoves, stirring pots of udon noodles and sizzling up poultry, pork, and steak teriyaki dishes for those who shy away from seafood since they were raised by fish. Out in the chic dining room, diners clink glasses of sake amid clouds of conversation and red walls adorned with angled accent pieces.
When Jim Knudson bit into his first taco during dinner at a friend's house in 1949, he knew he had tasted something special. He added the item—which many diners were pronouncing "tay-co"—to the menu at his restaurant in Grass Valley, California. Determined to introduce the food to as many people as possible, Jim and his wife, Margaret, converted a 16-foot trailer into a kitchen on wheels. They adopted the nickname Jim had earned from one of his longtime customers and drove up to Lake Tahoe, where Jimboy's Tacos found its first permanent home.
Locals, tourists, and even members of the Rat Pack flocked to the tiny taco stand for the uniquely seasoned, parmesan-dusted ground-beef taco, the anchor of a growing menu. The family eventually relocated to Roseville, California, where they set up a small taco stand and began branching out to other locations in and around Sacramento.
Today, Jim Knudson’s daughter Karen, the current president of the company, carries on the legacy of taco obsession at more than 40 locations in northern California and Nevada. Guests who arrive early for breakfast might glimpse the cooks slowly simmering beans, mashing avocados into guacamole, and preparing their signature ground beef with trans-fat-free oil. In addition to classic corn-tortilla tacos, the menu holds the mega-size flour-tortilla El Gordo, golden-fried taquitos, and even a taco burger that fuses Mexican and American culinary traditions.
Crazy for Yogurt lives up to its name by offering 10 flavors of self-serve yogurt that customers jazz up with more than 70 fruit, candy, and nut toppings. They also offer a selection of fresh-fruit smoothies and creamy gelatos that chefs whip up onsite, rather than outsourcing the task to a generic food-production factory or unreliable polar bears.