In the 1850s, winery founder Theophile Vache chose a piece of land to plant wine grapes because of its maritime climate and unique soils. More recently, this land was christened Pietra Santa—Italian for “sacred stone”—in honor of the region's granite- and limestone-rich soils, which have produced subtly earthy wines for 150 years. Rows of olive trees and wine grapes, including pinot noir and pinot gris varieties, sprout from 450 acres of fecund soil nestled in the Gabilan Range.
Within the Mission-style winery, vintner Alessio Carli ferments vino in oak barrels, and a Tuscan-imported press squeezes oils from organic olives. The winery's picnic area furnishes guests and marooned hot air balloon captains with breath-nabbing views of Cienega Valley. In addition to garnering the adoration of oenophiles, Pietra Santa has attracted attention from Frank Lloyd Wright associate Burley Griffin Junior, who designed the estate's prairie-style Dickinson house, which was built in 1905.
Starting out at one spot in 1979, the Pizza factory has since expanded to five states, baking up their reputable pies in more than 110 locations. In the kitchen at each restaurant, cooks roll out their own pizza dough from scratch daily, topping it with 100% mozzarella cheese, premium meats, and fresh local vegetables. In addition to customizable pies, they build eight gourmet pizzas, such as the spinach and garlic, and the greek, which sports green bell peppers, red onions, black olives, and crumbled feta cheese. They also prepare calzones, pastas, and seven “awesome” sub sandwiches with oven-roasted rolls, slices of provolone cheese, and tiny periscopes.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has smoked beef brisket in-house nearly every night since 1941, painting each morsel with a tangy house-made sauce. Pulled pork, turkey breast, and polish sausage round out the menu with meals that are heartier than a burrito wrapped in Paul Bunyan’s plaid shirt. Boxed lunches and catered buffets brim with homestyle sides such as coleslaw, mac 'n' cheese, and jalapeño beans. Once the last pickle has been crunched and the last finger has been licked, guests can savor one of the restaurant’s most cherished traditions: a vanilla cone, on the house.
Basque Country in northern Spain may not be well known, but it does have a well-deserved reputation for culinary excellence, according to Food & Wine. The chefs there rely on the region’s bountiful surroundings, using local seafood and farm-fresh produce along with more rarefied ingredients such as forest mushrooms and wild boar. The result is a unique cuisine that is not commonly found outside of Basque Country, and is the singular specialty at Basque Matxain Etxea Restaurant, which has been serving Basque-style cuisine for more than a decade. Head chef Guillermo Matxain learned the craft organically during his childhood in San Sebastian, a major city in the Basque region, and years spent in the kitchen at the family restaurant.
Today, Chef Matxain cooks elaborate and authentic Basque dishes, such as shrimp, mussels, and seafood paella according to family recipes that have been passed down and absentmindedly folded into paper airplanes over several generations. He crafts small tapas for diners to share, including baby calamari in garlic, oil, and paprika, and woody mushrooms sautéed with parsley. His rich traditional Basque dishes include Cazuela Easo, a mixed seafood dish cooked in a secret family recipe creamy cheese sauce.
Mission Café’s impression of a retro diner is spot on; it has red-and-chrome bar stools, a red-and-white checkered floor, and an array of breakfast, lunch, and dinner food from the griddle and grill. The cooks crack eggs for omelets, toss house-made corned beef for the reuben sandwich, and flip an array of burgers, including the chili burger, the double burger, and the vegetarian Garden City burger. Frothy milkshakes and steamy coffee complement the all-American food, just as George Washington once dictated.
Bertha Campbell Cole stepped back and let out a satisfied sigh after making the final pink brushstrokes on the wooden siding of the 1856 hotel. She had traveled throughout Southeast Asia with her husband for years, but was now firmly planted back in her childhood territory on Northern California soil. The year was 1935, and Bertha's new stationary lifestyle meant that she could finally realize her dream of opening a teahouse. In forthcoming decades, the intimate space would sate the appetites of celebrities such as Alfred Hitchcock and Beverly Sills, as well as many noncelebrities who simply liked ornately papered walls. Today, owner Charlie Shockey continues La Casa Rosa Restaurant's tradition by serving luncheons fashioned from Mexican-inspired recipes, local herbs and produce, and seasonally changing red and white wines. Chefs bake corn, beef, and cheeses into california casseroles, following an original recipe given to Bertha's aunts by a local Mexican commandant. Chicken and seafood soufflés sail past antique dolls, pictures, and a gramophone to tables in the main dining room, or on their way to an outdoor courtyard among flowering shrubs and giraffes. Wines such as Ash Blonde—a French-Italian blended aperitif—chill glasses alongside domestic and imported beers, and a baby grand piano holds a row of sample jams and chutneys off to one side of the dining room. After tastings, visitors can order the local preserves, which staff members then pack into decorative pink boxes.