Bonafede-family matriarch Anita started JoJo's Pizza Kitchen more than four decades ago, and her discerning taste for ingredients is still identifiable in the menu. Though her son Joe, who napped on flour sacks in the back of the restaurant as a child, now runs the eatery, fresh basil and plum tomatoes grown in Stanislaus County still release aromas that hint at sun-soaked furrows. Through a dining room window, guests catch glimpses of chefs tossing freshly risen dough for pizzas or smaller chefs for their adorable giggles. They grate fresh parmesan cheese as wine cooks slowly down with mushrooms on the stovetop and chicken marinates in lemon and garlic. Servers bustle past, filling glasses with house wines or draft beers.
It's safe to say that Darlene Swain has outgrown her Easy-Bake Oven. She and co-owner Briana Ainsworth have whisked their way into the spotlight as fierce competitors on Food Network's Cupcake Wars, and now craft their famous creations for the masses in the comfort of Darla’s Cake Designs Kitchen. Clients can request a dozen cupcakes in flavors such a 24 Carrot and peanut butter cup, or commission the duo for a 3-D cake complete with stars and edible flowers.
Capers, cilantro pesto, barbecue chicken: these ingredients, along with more than 30 others, can top pizzas at Villaggio Pizzeria. Dough handlers craft build-your-own pies as well as California-style ones, which come crowned with West Coast–inspired toppings such as chipotle pesto and olive tapenade. The pies share a menu with other classic pizzeria treats, including buffalo wings, jumbo cheese ravioli, and oven-baked subs with housemade meatballs.
Yellow, green, and red curries bubble slightly in pans, ready to be poured over pieces of pork and shrimp. Nearby, chefs flip teriyaki-glazed salmon filets and barbecue chicken on the grill inside Thai California Kitchen. They also pan-fry noodles and sauté proteins in a variety of dressings including peanut sauce or Thai chili paste.
Using cake as their canvas, the creative bakers at Kelley's Bakery turn treats into sculpted works of art. Whether building three-tiered wedding cakes or other special-occasion desserts, they spread on colorful layers of frosting in nearly a dozen flavors, including mango, chestnut, mocha-royale cream, and passion-fruit. Not content with a flat dessert landscape, they also add rolled fondant sculpted into designs ranging from flowers and leaves to seashells and ribbons. Children's birthday cakes, meanwhile, get an air-brush treatment—complete with figurines of popular characters to distract kids from the fact that they once again didn't get a cartoon dog this year.
Lollicup sates thirsts with a variety of tea, juice, and fruit drinks. Milk drinks include coconut, coffee, and honey milk teas, alongside lavender lattes; fruit teas include peach, raspberry, or sour plum alongside slushes and smoothies. Customers can also enhance their drinks with fun add-ons such as boba, pudding, mango jelly, and aloe vera.