The chefs at Fratello’s Bistro, who’ve been practicing for more than a decade, cook comforting Italian food from fresh ingredients that are grown locally in the Valley. Starters of mussels marinara or stuffed mushrooms jump out from a menu of pastas, pizzas, and meatier entrees. The chefs prepare chicken, calamari, veal, and shrimp as entrees characterized by different vivid sauces. Spicy red fra diablo sauce brings zest to bell peppers, red wine adds complex depth to marsala sauce with mushrooms, and white-wine lemon-butter sauce graces plates with a lighter, delicate touch akin to a flower petal falling onto a marshmallow. Glasses of local wine and imported Chianti accent each meal.
Owner Rosalinda Tovar has been delighting Fresno-area eaters with authentic, award-winning Mexican cuisine since opening the first Rosa Linda's in Selma in 1997. Whipping up each delectable dish from scratch, Rosa Linda prides itself on fresh-to-order flavor. On weekends, patrons can partake of the accolade-earning menudo, or hominy and tripe soup ($6.25 for small bowl). Many a blushing taste bud has fallen prey to the tamales, a seductive selection of pork, chicken, or beef wrapped within a tailored waistcoat of fresh corn masa and an elegant corn-husk dinner jacket ($10.95 for plate of two). The popular Selma special features two crispy tacos stuffed with generous portions of grilled steak, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and guacamole ($10.95), and the fajitas deluxe showcases a sizzling triumvirate of beef, chicken, and shrimp with mixed veggies, guacamole, and sour cream ($14.95). For chronic coin-flippers, the list of combination plates stumps the stodgiest statisticians with its overwhelming set of flavor coefficients (up to $10.95). All entrees come with rice and beans.
Pacifica Pizza hand-tosses its dough to create a strong and delicious foundation for a menu of specialty pizzas created with toppings fresh from California farms. The traditional veggie pizza contains a veritable garden of mushrooms, green peppers, black olives, tomatoes, and a hedge maze. The heart attack special combines a plethora of meats— sausage, pepperoni, salami, canadian bacon, and ground beef—into a super-pizza packed with enough animal to legally qualify as livestock. Try a traditional hawaiian pizza topped with canadian bacon, pineapple, and extra cheese, or choose not to choose with the almost-everything-on-it bulldog special. A sidecar of breadsticks and a handle of soda transform your pizza from part of a complete breakfast into a complete breakfast.
Slice into the menu with a cool, cold sandwich ($3.39–$13.79) such as the veggie sub, with your choice of three cheeses and avocado, the salami-turkey-provolone, or the ham-salami-capicolla-pepperoni-provolone. Load a gastronomic cargo carrier with a medium fountain drink ($1.39) or chips ($1), or turn on the mouth heat with a stomach-warming griller, such as the 12-inch New York steak ’n’ cheese on ciabatta ($4.99–$7.99) or the 8-inch barbecue pork ($4.99–$7.99). Any sandwich can also be made into a wrap ($4.99–$6.29).
Plates full of barbecue-glazed salmon, grilled sirloin, and country-fried steak emerge from the kitchen at Spike ‘n’ Rail Steakhouse, where chefs assemble hearty sandwiches and carefully spread sauces over meats. In the morning, patrons can sample breakfast dishes such as country-fried streak and eggs and breakfast burritos. Those who prefer a quieter meal can dig into their smoked prime rib on the outdoor patio, which overlooks a pond with burbling fountains and constantly gurgling fish.
The sweet fragrances of fresh-baked goods, artisan sandwiches, and imported Swedish coffee waltz about the interior of this charming European-style café, nestled in a Swedish timber-framed house with ample seating and loads of warmth. Early morning guests can add pep to their palates with traditional Swedish coffees brewed into lattes as smooth as a Santana and Rob Thomas collaboration. Lingonberry-loving lunchers are invited to nibble on traditional Nordic sandwiches served on Max's stone-baked bread, such as the Scandinavian sandwich, which is layered with smoked salmon, cucumbers, and onions ($8.50), or the smoked-sardine sandwich, which is smothered with Latvian sardine pate and topped with onion slices and cucumbers ($7.50). Stockholm Bakery's vegetarian victuals include creamy potato gratin ($5.50) and the Farmer's salad, sporting fresh seasonal berries, almonds, raisins, thinly sliced onion, and a delicious douse of house dressing ($7.50).