Since opening in 2003, Ristorante Due Rose has combined the open, family-style ambiance of an American diner with hearty, pan-regional Italian cuisine. Old World techniques endure in the kitchen, and the chefs lend a homespun charm to their meals by baking their own bread and by making fresh pasta and gnocchi in house. Medallions of filet mignon, seafood stew brimming with prawns and clams, and pizzas topped with prosciutto demonstrate the range of the menu, which overflows with iconic dishes from virtually every corner of Italy.
Taupe-hued half walls run throughout the generous dining room, dividing the space into small areas that cater to both couples and large families. Amid the white linens and the neutral-toned walls, a handful of décor accents add splashes of color, too. A burgundy awning sits above shelves of wine, evoking old-country trattorias, and verdant potted plants tower above the half walls, evoking the thick jungles of Tuscany.
Though using all-natural and locally grown ingredients is becoming popular in today’s restaurants, Straw Hat Pizza has been dedicated to these forward-thinking practices since serving its first pie on July 10, 1959. For more than 50 years, Straw Hat Pizza has followed some very down-to-earth guidelines: tomatoes are handpicked and hand-sorted from its own fields, cheeses are free from fillers, and all produce originates from within 150 miles of the store. Of course, this is pizza, so the local focus is accented by Old-World practices. For example, the Idaho wheat is grown in volcanic soil at least 4,500 feet above sea level, according to Italian pizza and pasta tradition.
Straw Hat’s pizzas, like the best blind dates, arrive dressed in a diverse selection of veggie and meat toppings⎯such as lemon-pepper chicken, chorizo, and bell peppers⎯but pies aren’t its only signature item. In the 1970s, Straw hat introduced the Hot Hat, a stromboli-style sandwich stuffed with melted cheese and ham, meatballs, or pepperoni. Additionally, the cooks whip up an eclectic choice of sides, including onion-battered green beans and garlic-parmesan bread sticks.
San Francisco Pizza's owner and executive chef Silvio Barbosa Jr. has spent more than a decade perfecting his recipes for hand-spun pizzas and freshly prepared pasta, salads, and sandwiches. His menu is anchored by more than 25 specialty pizzas festooned with both traditional toppings such as pepperoni, basil, and sausage and more surprising fixings such as pine nuts, sliced hard-boiled eggs, and hearts of palm. Diners can also dig into pasta dishes and sandwiches accented with freshly grilled veal, seafood, and poultry to silence the loud hunger pangs drowning out the tiny angels perched on their shoulders.
Upon opening a steaming box from Mama's Kitchen, pizza fiends may marvel at the improbable architecture of their pie: dough made fresh each day becomes a paper-thin crust that nevertheless manages to support two cheeses and hearty doses of meatballs, barbecue chicken, or roasted garlic. Fresh-bake sourdough bread clasps sandwiches stuffed with sweet italian sausage, balsamic-dappled grilled vegetables, or smoked salmon, while patrons trying to construct a classic multicourse Italian meal or set a World's Biggest Snack record via takeout can dip into a handful of salads, soups, pastas, and desserts.
It may be called the Big Apple, but New York City is far more famous for another culinary export. Pizza practically counts as its own food group across the five boroughs, where the slices are thin and foldable. If the pies at Giant New York Pizza are any indication, Vallejo is staking its claim as New York's honorary sixth borough.
The pizzeria's chefs are decidedly old school in their approach, starting with housemade dough that's brushed with olive oil and slathered with a sauce that's also housemade. They take some liberties with their toppings, straying from New York tradition to create pizzas such as the Santa Fe (chipotle pesto sauce, chicken sausage, red onions, sweet corn, tomatoes, and cilantro) and the spicy Maui (white sauce, grilled chicken, pineapple, red onions, and jalape?os).
Back in 1955, three Berkley-dwelling businessmen came together with an idea for a restaurant that specialized in something they knew everyone could enjoy. Pizza. And so, the first La Val's Pizza was born. First opening up on Euclid Avenue, the pizzeria grew over the years, changing hands and opening five locations throughout the area. Today, La Val's Pizza of Albany serves up some of the same classic pies from the hey-days of the UC-Berkley pizza joint hangout, using fresh ingredients in place of 57-year-old mushrooms. The Brazilian couple that owns and operates the location have also crafted a menu of Brazilian pizzas, which feature ingredients such as Brazilian cheese, smoked meat, and tan-tan drums.