Russo's dining room evokes a Tuscan vineyard with large murals of plump purple grape bunches, exposed rafters, and deep-green twisting vines. Since 1987, John and Jane Russo have paired this rustic ambiance with age-old family recipes ranging from grilled fish filets and grinders, to hearty pastas and Sicilian-style pizza. Diners can also opt for gently sautéed shrimp and veal dishes bathed in made-from-scratch sauce.
Ryan Bros. Coffee's attentive owners match discerning tastes with artfully crafted blends of fair-trade coffees and mouthwatering café fare. Classic coffees include featured roasts ($1.75 for 12 oz., $2 for 20 oz.) such as bold Cowboy coffee or the full-bodied Broadway Blues, which are filtered for fuller tastes. Espresso drinks inject caffeine-packed shots into tongue-tickling flavors such as a warm, creamy mocha ($3.55–$3.95) or a chilly, blended Java Lava frappe ($4.25). Chompable menu items grant solid starts to the day, including the chipotle-bacon breakfast sandwich ($5.95), whereas real-fruit smoothies, including the refreshing mango patch ($4.25), rev bodies with vitamin-rich fuel. Salads ($6.50–$7.25) and freshly grilled paninis ($5.95–$6.95) are also available for consumption. Packaged portions of coffee, tea, and comestibles adorn shelves in front of burnt-orange walls and sun-sprayed indoor or outdoor seating areas offer the ideal space in which to enjoy free WiFi.
Situated about 80 miles from scenic San Gabriel, the nearly 150-year-old Highland Springs Resort soothes weary travelers with relaxing rooms, striking views, and fare that fuels felicity. Groupon guests can rest their heads in the resort's Spanish Courtyard rooms, which echo the rustic, sun-soaked architecture of España with expansive terraces and quarters that are saturated with natural light and bilingual WiFi. Each domicile is dashingly bedecked with antique furniture and brand-new mattresses and bedding, and has views overlooking the resort grounds, which include 20 acres of farmland ripe with organic herbs and miles of hiking trails accessible to visitors with a guest pass.
Lots of kids love digging in the dirt, but for Jim Carter, the pastime was more creative than destructive. As an eight-year-old boy, one of his favorite pastimes was gathering seeds from the maple tree in his yard and planting them on visits to his relatives. Today he channels his love of horticulture into Grapeseed Spa at South Coast Winery Resort and Spa's 38 acres of neatly ordered vineyards, from which he and a team of winemakers create sauvignon blancs and merlots.
Carter feels that great wine deserves a great setting, so at the vineyard’s spa, visitors indulge in wine-themed spa services such as grapeseed renewal scrubs to leave skin soft and smooth. Then, they can grab a complimentary glass of wine and continue an intensely relaxing afternoon on the veranda overlooking the vineyard. A gourmet restaurant and Tuscan-themed tasting room also offer panoramic scenes alongside the vineyard’s own foliage. For travelers who can’t tear themselves away from the view, there are also 76 private, freestanding villas for rent, equipped with fireplaces and spa tubs perfect for acting out imaginary grape-stomping scenes. The resort has also recently opened a 50-room hotel on the resort grounds.
The son of a San Fernando Valley butcher, Jody Maroni grew up enchanted by the meat trade. He made his first solo foray into the business in 1979, selling unorthodox sausages made by hand and then smoked or grilled on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. More than 30 years later, Jody continues handcrafting gourmet sausages with all-natural meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies, wines, and beers. Created from personal recipes, his 24 nitrate- and preservative-free cased meats include garlic-infused pork sausages and tequila chicken sausages with brined jalapeños and corn. They exhibit the versatility of the seemingly simple meal, ranging from the hot links popular in Louisiana to the bratwurst that would make a Midwesterner feel at home and the traditional hot dogs robots eat to fit in on the Fourth of July.
An elegant chateau sits on the hill at the center of Leoness Cellars’ vineyard, overlooking 70 acres lush with grapes. The chateau welcomes guests who come to visit its tasting rooms and serves as a compass of sorts for those who wander too far on walks through the purplish fields. It looks on as couples recite their vows during wedding ceremonies, and it houses a complete production facility where daily tour groups learn about the age-old methods of crushing, aging, and singing soft lullabies to grapes. Chef Daragh Matheson fills the chateau’s kitchen with the aromas of Alaskan salmon, ahi tuna, and beef carpaccio—specialties that pair exquisitely with the cellars’ wines.