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.
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.
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.
Oak Tree Lanes pulls in pin snipers with three-dozen lanes and a full slate of bowler-friendly amenities. Take aim at a clustered quarry and send your spheroid down the lane, leaving the alley's electronic scoring system to deal with the arcane rules and complex logarithms that govern the tallying of each frame. Bumpers are available to help kids and adults with childlike motor skills keep pin torpedoes on the right track, and a playroom is also on hand to cater to children (ages 2–7) too frightened by alternative footwear to take part in the lane games. Because bowling, like most rock-throwing activities, is better in the dark, Oak Tree Lanes also offers Thunder Alley, a Friday- and Saturday-night bowling experience filled with black lights, lasers, satellite radio, and fog machines, giving adults a fun alternative to conventional bowling and helping kids prepare for renting DVDs of Pink Floyd laser light shows. Oak Tree Lanes also offers weary lane warriors and pin pacifists a number of options for refueling, including a snack bar and sports bar.