For more than 22 years, the scent of freshly baking pizza has drifted out the door of Kenootz Pizza. Chefs fill their ovens with both thin-crust and deep-dish pies, sprinkling in more than a dozen toppings such as bacon, all-beef pepperoni, and spinach. To complement the flavors of their pizzas, chefs cook up classic Italian sides such as cheese-laden garlic bread, zucchini sticks, and fried mushrooms, as well as more substantial platters of meat ravioli and spaghetti. With a delivery area that covers most of the surrounding neighborhoods, the restaurant can stock groups with a tasty, sharable meal without them having to leave the house or cut a cheeseburger into eight equal parts.
Restaurateur Ted first fed the Willow Springs community with his intimate establishment, My Way Café, whose popularity inspired him to expand his reach into fine Italian cuisine paired with delicately balanced wines at My Way Ristorante. Through the evolution of his businesses, though, Ted has never lost sight of doing things, as he puts it, his way. He focuses first on cultivating a warm, welcoming atmosphere in his restaurants, striving to make guests feel free to sit, eat, chat, and return.
Of course, delicious food comes in at a close second. He crafts an extensive menu of Italian dishes, calling out signature favorites with the addition of My Way to the dish’s name. My Way polenta pairs sautéed italian sausage with a white wine sauce, and My Way ravioli douses tomato crab-stuffed ravioli in a garlic cream sauce. Some recipes, however, Ted leaves just the way they are, relying on the time-tested ability of a simple grill to draw flavors from his 12-ounce rib eyes, 8-ounce filet mignons, and 2-ounce charcoal briskets.
Bertucci’s Restaurant & Lounge evokes a wilderness retreat with log-cabin-style walls, hardwood floors, and a central fireplace on a bed of stone. Exposed rafters teem with greenery and the rising steam of chicken and veal in authentic Italian preparations, in dynamic sauces such as lemon wine and marsala. The open space mingles cozy ambiance with more than enough space for catered banquets that serve up to 100 people. Seafood fillets such as salmon and halibut insulate pasta draped with garlic, olive oil, and marinara. Patrons can venture outside to sip wine or an espresso drink amid the sprawling verandas of Bertucci’s open-air patio, where a fountain stands in a pool of water and falcons swoop down to snag unattended cannoli.
A series of red-and-black awnings leads passersby to Ciao Ristorante, where they step into a massive dining room designed to accommodate large groups and warmhearted family functions. But with its dark wood, French doors, and soft lighting, the space is equally suitable for more intimate evenings out. Over a bottle of wine or a few martinis, guests dig into impeccably Italian pastas, steaks, and seafood. The menu harbors such delicacies as filet mignon in artichoke-mushroom wine sauce, and racks of spring lamb seasoned with garlic and rosemary. Aside from more refined dishes, Ciao?s chefs also find their way into stomach?s hearts with comforting platters of pasta, including old-fashioned gnocchi and pillowy fresh ravioli.
Open for 25 years and celebrated by AM670 The Score, the Southland Star, and Patch.com, the items on the Durbin’s menu vary by location, but all of its kitchens prepare hearty sandwiches, pizzas, and barbecue. Wood embers infuse ribs and chicken with smoky flavors as USDA Black Angus steaks are plated alongside sautéed mushrooms and homemade coleslaw. Fresh donut holes are also made in-house and stacked on ice cream sundaes topped with a single red cherry that resembles the setting sun resting on a pillow of vanilla-flavored clouds.
Francesca's Vicinato's classic dining room’s white linen tablecloths and framed photos of the old country complement a traditional menu of authentic Italian dishes that rotates almost daily. Past menus have included tender, fluffy gnocchi bolognese with homemade potato-flour dumplings resting lightly in a smattering of rich tomato meat sauce ($14.99), and salmone alla fresca, a grilled salmon filet balancing on a platform of bright grilled asparagus ($21.99). Stomachs enrolled in the intergalactic anti-wheat club can opt for a gluten-free meal, which includes options such as linguine alle verdure—a hearty portion of sautéed quinoa linguine snaking through a forest of buttery, earthy wild mushrooms, fresh cherry tomatoes, and smoky eggplant ($11.95). Patrons can pair entrees with a selection of Italian and Californian wines ($7–$10.50/glass). During the winter months, Francesca's Vicinato offers complimentary valet parking for customers' wheels, from sedans to roller skates.