Richard Valenzuela fondly remembers the home cooking of his Sicilian grandmother, once telling the North County Times that “just thinking about it makes me hungry.” Now that he co-owns Via Sicilia Ristorante Italiano, he continues to embrace those same generations-old family recipes when he helps design the menu. His chefs bake fresh bread every day and hand-form meatballs into perfect dodecahedrons. These house ingredients lend a rustic touch to familiar Italian comfort fare, including crispy pizzas, saucy pastas, and baked veal and chicken. The restaurant’s devotion to Old World ambiance extends to the decor, which evokes the feel of a café along the streets of Sicily. Faux shuttered windows and shop awnings line the walls in the dining room, where red-and-white-checkered tablecloths pop against cobblestone floors. To illuminate the space, the restaurant relies on a combination of wall-mounted lanterns, towering streetlights, and giant, irradiated fireflies.
Satisfying meals and handcrafted beer intersect with premium sports viewing at Lamppost Pizza and Backstreet Brewery, founded in 1976 by Angelo Barro and his sons, Dan and Tom. Today, the franchise welcomes patrons to 37 locations in three states, and the philosophy remains the same at all of them. Seven big-screen TVs broadcast football, basketball, and baseball games from around the leagues to entertain patrons sipping small-batch draft beers brewed onsite. Fans munch on traditional sports-viewing snacks, such as jalape?o poppers, potato skins, and buffalo wings. Chefs also prepare heartier entrees including garlic-chicken pasta, Pesto Supreme pizzas covered with artichoke hearts, and The Linebacker, a pizza loaded with pepperoni, salami, ground beef, sausage, and two types of bacon.
The flavor artisans at Lorenzo's Pizzeria layer combinations of 26 toppings atop dough disks, banishing hunger pangs with a menu of pizzeria staples for dine-in or carryout. Diners can indulge in pizza by the slice ($2.50+) or gather a group of friends to tackle one of the 18-inch signature pies, including the pesto pizza laden with roasted red peppers, mozzarella, and parmesan ($16). The New Yorker pizza unveils an art-deco skyline of pepperoni, meatballs, mushrooms, and garlic ($17). Saucy chicken wings slather taste buds and dab cheekbones ($4.50 for 1/2 lb.), and the oven-crisped dough of a calzone enshrines a molten core inhabited by the lava monsters dubbed ricotta and mozzarella by the ancient Romans ($7.50 for a 10").
The Draft may have recently shed its former Wings, Pizza N Things alias, but it remains locally owned and operated by the same team of dedicated industry professionals. Now with more than 37 high-definition televisions lining its walls, The Draft makes it easy to catch virtually every second of the evening's biggest game. Whether you grab a stool at the bar or settle at one of the high-top tables, it's hard not to have an unobstructed view of at least one screen?assuming you can tear your attention away from what's on the table. The menu specializes in hearty comfort foods, including burgers and chicken patties topped with fixings such as bacon, chili, jalape?os, or pure oxygen. To accompany this rib-sticking cuisine, the bar pours more than 30 craft beers?half of which hail from local breweries.
Rossi's Pizza and Family Sports Bar’s culinary team depends on the fruits of California. Chefs incorporate local cheese, olives, and bread into their dishes, and stock the bar with more than 15 wines, all of which are bottled in state. The cooks bolster regional ingredients with handmade dough, a special three-cheese blend grated in-house, and from-scratch marinara sauce, ranch dressing, and garlic butter. Beyond that, chefs craft award-winning homemade lasagna from a family recipe, pile BBQ roast beef and oven-roasted chicken onto Italian rolls, and crown specialty pizzas with toppings such as cashews and sliced avocado. They also serve bar classics such as chicken fingers and hamburgers.
Along with Californian wine, 25 draft beers served in frosted mugs can help wash down meals, which unfold in a spacious dining area that surrounds guests with exposed brick, flat-screen TVs, and sports memorabilia. In the private team room, groups can enjoy a slice while reviewing strategies on a whiteboard and watching game footage on a big-screen TV . After feasts, patrons can stick around for games in Rossi’s arcade, which includes more than 17 classics such as pinball, foosball, and air hockey.
Although it opened not long ago, Tuscany Ristorante is wise beyond its years. That's because the duo behind the restaurant?executive chef Robert Gaffney and television producer Daniel DiCarlo?have extensive experience in the food, beverage, and entertainment industries. And it shows in Tuscany's offerings. The frequently-changing menu of farm-to-table dishes with ingredients such as pasta, seafood, certified-Angus beef, and pizzas topped with local meats and cheeses and cooked in a brick oven.
Tuscany Ristorante provides guests with various forms of entertainment, too. National music and comedy acts perform on the venue's various stages, including piano lounge and 1,000-square-foot private supper club. After meals or shows, parties can saunter outdoors, which feature an outdoor lounge and dining area, courtyard, and a fountain that doesn't so much babble as it does wax poetic about the intricacies of waves. A private banquet room in also available.