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.
As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s Pizza has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments.
In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
Chef Vincent Paul Alexander adorns time-tested Californian fare with Francophile flourishes to fashion a menu of refined dishes. Escargot baked in garlic herb butter and topped with crisp filo dough ($8) rev appetite engines, launching taste buds down a roast pork tenderloin road paved with sweet almond polenta, applewood bacon, and port wine demi glace ($21). Chocolate-dipped strawberries accompany house specialties, providing dulcet encouragement like a high-five from Julia Child. The tender beef wellington's delicate ecosystem is stuffed with foie gras butter and cloaked in a canopy of wild mushroom duxelles, puff pastry, and truffle madeira sauce ($34). Fresh ginger encrusts the exterior of delicately seared ahi tuna, which relaxes on a hammock of baby greens and horseradish mashed potatoes while sipping a garnish of soy lime vinaigrette ($29) and soliciting grateful postcards to Atlantis.
Cheesesteak historians trace the sandwich's ancestry back to Pat Oliveri, a Philadelphian who combined sliced beef and onions over a Italian roll; once someone made the ingenious decision to add cheese, the classic combination was born. Today, Cheese Steak Restaurant's sandwich-smiths continue that noble tradition with more than 30 cheesesteak varieties.
Take your pick of either the classic, a chicken version, or a hoagie-style cheesesteak (topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise), and you have the option to pile it with grilled onions, hot cherry peppers, or sweet bell peppers. Other varieties feature added ingredients such as roasted cloves or garlic, mushrooms, or teriyaki sauce. There's also a veggie-only option, and diners can order twister fries, steak fries, fried mushrooms, and zucchini sticks to as a side dish or in case they need edible confetti for a chef's birthday party.
At Anatolian Table, your entree's ingredients are either grown locally or in the Mediterranean—as is the case with the royal dorado, a fish that's served whole after being lured from the Mediterranean Sea. Regardless of their origins, however, each plate is prepped in-house without any additives. Yogurts, sauces, and breads are all homemade, and meat kebabs derive their flavor from signature marinades. Traditional Turkish entrees appease both vegetarians and omnivores alike: there's vegetable guvec, a mix of veggies baked with spices in a casserole pot, as well as sucuklu pide, Turkish garlic salami served atop crispy dough. There's even a kids' menu, which features child-friendly meals such as lamb burgers and chicken fingers that merge together to give a high-five after every bite.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.