A link to Santa Barbara's past, Aldo's Italian Ristorante resides on the grounds of the Janssens-Orella adobe house, which was built in 1857 and holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1986, Aldo's has done its part to write its own chapter into the historic site's story, serving homemade Italian specialties for lunch and dinner every day of the week. During visits, diners may enjoy freshly prepared dishes inside amid ornate pillars and elegant artwork, or outside in the heated courtyard.
It's a tradition at Arnoldi's Cafe to make things by hand, whether you're crafting meatballs or the building itself. Though the original venue was founded in 1937 by Giuseppe Arnoldi and his wife Ilda, the current location was erected in 1940. Giuseppe, known as Joe, quarried the stone himself. He made sure to include all the trappings of a rustic Italian getaway: a maple floor for dancing, a pair of bocce courts, and a mural of Lago di Como, where he was born. And, though he and Ilda ceased to run the restaurant in 1969, he appointed a bar manager who remains there to this day. His name is Bucky, and he's a tule elk who welcomes visitors from his spot on the wall.
Thankfully, guests can taste Joe's legacy as well as see it. The menu at Arnoldi's boasts homestyle Italian fare, from bruschetta drizzled in imported olive oil to veal sautéed in wine and a lemon caper sauce. Like the vases at an unscrupulous antique store, many of the pasta dishes here are made fresh from scratch. There's handmade gnocchi, homemade lasagna, and handmade ravioli. Diners enjoy their meals with wine in a romantic dining room or on a heated patio, while in the garden, teams compete in seasonal bocce tournaments.
Enormous portions of pasta weigh down tables inside Petrini's Italian Restaurants, which specialize filling stomachs with old-school Italian fare. Inside the kitchen, chefs cover thin crusts with slices of salami, mushrooms, and barbecue chicken to make custom pies. Swirls of steam float above plates of gnocchi, tortellini, and ravioli, and generous helpings of chicken and veal parmesan slip between slices of sandwich bread or go solo as dinner entrees. Petrini’s homemade salad dressings top crisp salads, and can be purchased by the bottle, gallon, or super-soaker tank.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.