Bonfire Pizzeria’s staff admits that their goal is simple: they just want to make tasty thin-crust pizzas and create a warm environment for family and friends to enjoy it in. The chefs do everything they can to fill their salads, piadinas, and pizzas with local and organic ingredients, some plucked straight from the pages of a Beatrix Potter book. The specialty pizzas verge on the gourmet with medleys of truffle oil, caramelized onions, and yukon gold potatoes. They also assemble classic margherita-style pizzas with Bonfire's marinara, fresh-grated parmesan, and dollops of fresh mozzarella. Piadinas—a type of flatbread with dough made onsite—support housemade meatballs or combinations that include spinach and chicken.
Some restaurants use a cook book; others use the recipes brought to America by their founder’s mother-in-law when she was 16. Village Pizza is one of latter type, its kitchens consistently rich with the smell of Old World Italian family recipes. The cooks serve classics such as fettuccine alfredo, chicken parmigiana, and, of course, pizza. They serve an extensive list of international wines to pair with their eats.
From the humble beginnings of a single, small pizzeria in Palo Alto back in 1978, Mountain Mike's Pizza grew to open more than 150 locations across California, Oregon, Nevada, and Utah. Today, each restaurant maintains a low-key, family friendly vibe, serving up a rousing menu of pizzas such as Everest, a mountain of pepperoni, italian sausage, salami, linguiça, beef, mushrooms, black olives, peppers, and onions.
The casual confines of Mountain Mike's Lafayette location showcase mountain photography, sports memorabilia, and a long line of craft-beer taps sporting the logos of Shock Top, Firestone, and Heretic. In addition to boasting the "largest on-tap craft beer selection in Lafayette," this Mountain Mike's is dedicated to its community, donating regularly to local schools, teams, and service organizations that build houses out of pizza dough. Live music and open-mic nights keep its calendar full, and a weekly buffet tops plates with unlimited portions.
This family-owned, Italian flag-colored eatery fed its first patron in 1998. Ever since, its chefs have stood behind stainless-steel countertops in the kitchen to hand-toss disks of dough into pizzas, which they slide into hot ovens on wooden peels. While the pies bake, they also stir the house-made pasta sauces bubbling atop burners. Lasagnas with meat sauce, marinated mushrooms, and ricotta cheeses bake inside ovens alongside signature pizzas. An example of one of these specialties is the pesto genovese with pancetta and fresh tomatoes. Traditional, house-made minestrone soup with seasonal vegetables, crisp salads, and veal parmigiano warms the palates of those who'd rather not swallow the planet Mercury.
The bright, clean walls of the dining area exhibit colorful paintings that include a wall-sized display of pink cherubs flying across a red background with pizzas in their outstretched arms.
Known for their successful takeover of Hudson Bay Café, I Squared proprietors Sadri Madjlessi and Tanya Anderson partner with executive chef Nory Madjlessi to combine traditional Iranian and Italian fare into one bold menu. Chef Nory honed his Italian culinary skills under Giovanni LoCoco at LoCoco's and absorbed knowledge of traditional Iranian recipes and cooking techniques from his mother. Rather than attempting traditional fusion fare, Chef Nory aims to stay true to the flavors of both countries, filling I Squared's ever-changing menu with Iranian staples such as fesenjoon—a stew of chicken, walnuts, and saffron served over basmati rice—as well as Italian classics, such as eggplant parmigiana. Using local and sustainable ingredients when possible, Chef Nory preps his signature lamb-stuffed cabbage wraps as patrons peek in the open kitchen from their places at minimalist butcher-block-topped tables. A stainless-steel-topped bar holds a beginner's alchemy kit and the makings of specialty and dessert cocktails along with extensive wine and beer offerings.
The same year it launched its airy Telegraph Avenue outpost, Pasta Bene jumped onto the Bargain Bites 2010 list in the San Francisco Chronicle, which also praised its "friendly" service. Its family of owners, however, arrived with 20 years of experience behind the scenes of area Italian restaurants, meaning that its menu of stone-fired pizzas and hearty entrees leavened with California freshness came together naturally. In 13 pasta dishes, noodles entwine with slow-photosynthesized seasonal vegetables and rich tomato and cream sauces, while the dessert menu may suggest an easier choice with its house-made tiramisu, a customer favorite. Wooden rafters and iron chandeliers vault over the casual, sunlit dining room overlooking a street-side patio.