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.
Peppino's menu of family-style portions provides more savory pairings than grandma could shake a slotted spoon at. Ease a land lover into the seafood sampler, composed of halibut, shrimp, scallops, and salmon atop a bed of angel-hair pasta infused with a garlic-basil tomato sauce and a splash of white wine ($21.95), or teach the young ones the true meaning of antipasto with a piled-high salad of salami, capicola, ham, mortadella, provolone, red onions, black olives, tomatoes, pepperoncini, kitchen sinks, roasted peppers, and mixed greens ($9.95).
The enticing aromas of baked breads waft out from the open kitchen, spilling into the cheerful dining room speckled with red-checkered tabletops. Here, cooks have been doling out signature Chicago-style pan pizzas for more than 20 years, as well as a selection of thin-crust pies, gluten-free offerings, and hearty Italian sandwiches. They adorn handmade dough with fresh toppings and pure mozzarella cheese or layer toasted italian rolls with succulent slices of slow-cooked beef.
Outside the restaurant, a wooden awning stretches out over a front patio, where diners can enjoy the fresh air, barring rain or Mother Nature's decision to get rid of her day-old air first.
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 jalapeño 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.
At Main Street Pizza & Cafe, eager eaters ingest hand-tossed pizzas, hot sandwiches served on french rolls, and breakfast fare. The savory surface of an artichoke-feta pizza supports fresh garlic, tomatoes, and mozzarella, which cower on its edges after glimpsing the approach of world-consuming teeth (starting at $8.99).
Walk roughly five minutes west of the beaches of Capistrano Bight and you’ll find Surfside Pizza. There, charmed by the not-too-distant sound of the waves, chefs spend their days pounding out dough for a hearty assortment of hand-tossed pizzas. Most of it goes toward making the eatery’s 30-inch pie—aptly named “The Big One”—that can be topped with everything from simple cheese to specialty ingredients such as barbecue chicken or homemade meatballs and mushrooms. In addition to pies, the chefs also craft scratch-made favorites including sub sandwiches, calzones, and cinnamon-sugar donuts drizzled with chocolate from Willy Wonka’s infinity pool.