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.
When it came time for the team at Johnny Carino?s to come up with some new recipes, they began rifling through their personal cooking histories. Executive chef Chris Peitersen took his first kitchen job at a barbecue joint when he was 14, so he was primed to create Italian baby back ribs. By infusing brown sugar barbecue sauce with balsamic vinegar imported from Modena, he?s given the marinade a more acidic bite than typical barbecue sauces. As the ribs slowly roast and char on an oak grill, he bastes on his creation before finishing the dish with a dusting of parmesan.
The ribs are one of Carino?s many menu items that follow the restaurants? approach of classic Italian preparations modified by forward-thinking flavor combinations. Diners will find a crispy pepperoni burger capped with mozzarella and fried pepperoni, or saut?ed tilapia spiced with garlic and jalape?o. Other signature dishes include the 16-layer lasagna, Skilletinis that sizzle with spaghetti and a choice of meat, and tiramisu made from scratch.
When Ronn Teitelbaum opened the first Johnny Rockets location in 1986, his goal was to create a restaurant where people could escape the postmodern blues of everyday life and experience a taste of time-honored Americana. The name itself is a nod to this ideal. It combines the star of a classic American fable, Johnny Appleseed, and a classic car, Oldsmobile’s beefy Rocket 88.
That explains why during dinners at the famous burger joints, you’ll see signs of simpler times, starting with the cooks and servers—dressed head to toe in white, including white paper hats, they look like they’ve fallen out of a wormhole from the 1950s ready to sling shakes and cook up some eats. Behind a stainless-steel bar lined with red leather stools they tend to their traditional diner fare, including burgers and melts with sides such as chili-cheese fries and onion rings. Riding sidecar to each meal is a collection of hand-dipped and hand-spun floats, shakes, and malts topped with whipped cream.
On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina shares its menu of Mexican comestibles in nearly every U.S. state and more than four countries, acquainting diners worldwide with the classic recipes and innovative ingredients of the Tex-Mex tradition. Chefs bundle enchiladas, burritos, and chimichangas with surprising flavors such as beef brisket and chile pesto while sizzling platters reinvent traditional fajitas with the addition of ranch, bacon, and cold-fusion technology.
On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina has partnered with Susan G. Komen For The Cure, pledging to donate a minimum of $100,000 annually to the charity to help bring attention to the importance of breast-cancer screenings, support important research, and supplement medical costs for breast-cancer sufferers.
Ono Hawaiian BBQ brings the island to the mainland with tender meats soaked in made-from-scratch marinades. Chefs hand roll chicken katsu in panko bread crumbs to give it a fresh, crispy texture, and assemble generous portions of crispy shrimp, island whitefish, and barbecue chicken in the seafood mix.
At Black Horse Tavern & Grill, the decor is not surprisingly centered around framed pictures of horses and horse head statues?all black, of course. The equine-heavy furnishings surround the eatery?s main star, the bar?also horseshoe shaped?which sits in the center of the room. There, bartenders pull from taps of Blue Moon, Stella Artois, and a handful of craft brews. Back in the kitchen, chefs celebrate all things American with large-portion entrees that include made-from-scratch fish and chips, potato croquettes, marinated hanger steak, and bacon wrapped meatloaf paired with mashed potatoes smothered in gravy. A number of flat-screen TVs are tuned to the day's big sporting events, and the bar supplies handheld electronic trivia games that can be played against strangers or your split personality.