Co-owners Christopher J. Rubino and Henry Carrillo Jr.—the original owners of Roseville's Bella Italia Bistro and Wine Bar—now train their eyes on Rocklin. Local publications and TV news programs have heaped multiple awards upon the eatery, which is designed to evoke the feel and taste of New York's Italian restaurants of the 40s and 50s.
Executive Chef Jesus Mendoza's plates present classic Italian dishes, such as spaghetti and meatballs, veal piccata, and chicken parmesan, and he pairs them with a wine list that spotlights California libations. Curtains and leather booths come together as an inviting dining room where guests savor their Continental lunches, Sunday brunches, and dinners. A banquet room accommodates larger groups, such as birthday parties and revolutionary movements. Mendoza and his team also cater.
Rubino's is guided not only by an old-fashioned sense of service and cuisine, but by a commitment to its community. In addition to belonging to the Rocklin and Roseville Chambers of Commerce, the establishment donates to local organizations, hosts benefits, and sponsors the Rocklin High School football team, whose cheerleaders wave pom-poms made of donated linguine.
Cheese Steak Restaurant pleases palates with a menu stocked with classic Philly-style steak and chicken sandwiches, hearty sides, and other casual eats. Pizza sauce, mushrooms, and provolone top thinly sliced grilled steak to form the deluxe philly cheesesteak sandwich ($5.99–$10.99), also available with other topping combos ranging from spinach and mushrooms to tangy teriyaki. Chicken-chowers can put a spin on the classic sandwich by outfitting it with piquant poultry instead, siding selections with a large order of steak fries ($2.69) or side salad ($2.39). Each satisfying sammy, stuffed in a soft roll, comes adorned with a choice of grilled onions and hot or sweet peppers. Cheese Steak invites diners to eat in at its two casual locations or take sandwiches to go for open-air picnics or onion ring tossing contests ($3.49).
When Jim Knudson bit into his first taco during dinner at a friend's house in 1949, he knew he had tasted something special. He added the item—which many diners were pronouncing "tay-co"—to the menu at his restaurant in Grass Valley, California. Determined to introduce the food to as many people as possible, Jim and his wife, Margaret, converted a 16-foot trailer into a kitchen on wheels. They adopted the nickname Jim had earned from one of his longtime customers and drove up to Lake Tahoe, where Jimboy's Tacos found its first permanent home.
Locals, tourists, and even members of the Rat Pack flocked to the tiny taco stand for the uniquely seasoned, parmesan-dusted ground-beef taco, the anchor of a growing menu. The family eventually relocated to Roseville, California, where they set up a small taco stand and began branching out to other locations in and around Sacramento.
Today, Jim Knudson’s daughter Karen, the current president of the company, carries on the legacy of taco obsession at more than 40 locations in northern California and Nevada. Guests who arrive early for breakfast might glimpse the cooks slowly simmering beans, mashing avocados into guacamole, and preparing their signature ground beef with trans-fat-free oil. In addition to classic corn-tortilla tacos, the menu holds the mega-size flour-tortilla El Gordo, golden-fried taquitos, and even a taco burger that fuses Mexican and American culinary traditions.
For more than five decades, Manuel treated his fellow Los Angelenos to from-scratch Mexican specialties at the original El Tepeyac Cafe. Today, his son Marcos follows in his culinary footsteps at Panchito's, where he nabs fresh veggies for the restaurant's piquant sauces and impromptu still-life paintings. He honors his family's generations-old recipes by spotlighting his dad's signature burritos, machaca (shredded beef), and towering tostadas on his own menu, and he maintains each dish's flavor and integrity by preparing everything fresh daily from the best ingredients available.
AJ’s Casual Eatery marries a menu of gourmet eats with speedy counter service in laid-back environs. Similar to diamond-studded snow tires, the curious mash-up boasts both practicality and refinement. Do-it-yourselfers can build their own six-ingredient salads ($6.75) or take on a house specialty such as the apple chicken walnut ($8.50). Signature sandwiches such as grilled cheese and bacon ($6.75) or a trio of tri-tip sliders under a canopy of crispy onions ($8) invite finger foodies to dive in. For those seeking sustenance a tad more toothsome, the chef carves up slabs of smoked tri-tip, roasted turkey, and marinated chicken, each served with two sides and cornbread ($8.95–9.95).
More than 20 types of golden-brown pancakes populate The Original Pancake House’s menu alongside omelets, waffles, and other hearty American breakfast dishes. Since 1953, the family business’s morning specialties have been prepared with a commitment to real ingredients such as pure whipping cream, hard-wheat unbleached flour, and butter made from fresh sweet cream. Powdered sugar lines the rims of oven-baked dutch baby pancakes, and granny-smith apples simmer in oven-baked pancakes. Unique ingredients add distinction to house specialties such as gourmet crepes garnished with sweet cherry-wine sauce. To accentuate the flavors of each meal, The Original Pancake House pours full glasses of fresh-squeezed orange juice, a Southern staple, and brews its own signature coffee blend.