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.
Matt Williams grew up in Loomis, just as the four previous generations of his family did. Following familial suit, he decided to stay in the area as an adult, but not before traveling to Italy to train in the culinary arts and acquire a taste for fine wines. After returning to his life-long home, he turned this passion for food and drink into a career, opening Café Zoro.
Matt and his kitchen team, led by Chef Scott Burns, embrace local, farm-fresh ingredients whenever possible, preparing seasonal fish, meat, pasta, and dessert dishes by hand. Though he takes pride in all of the specialties on the rotating menu, he is especially proud of his hand-made pizzas, which combine thin Italian-style crusts with homemade sauces and off-the-stem ingredients such as bell peppers, onions, and kalamata olives.
Of course, Matt’s passion for flavor doesn’t end with food. He and his staff also serve a remarkable selection of locally-crafted beverages. In addition to offering tasting flights from local wineries, they pour a lineup of craft beers, some of which hail from the nearby Loomis Basin Brewing Company.
Since 2003, Keith Nash, owner of The Pizza Place, and his wife Shab have operated their family-owned restaurant designed for pizza aficionados. Opening The Pizza Place location in Rocklin in 2007, The Nash's oversee cooks who craft fresh pizza dough daily, homemade pasta sauces, and hulking meatball sandwiches. In the oven, the fresh dough rises and crisps beneath fistfuls of artichoke hearts, salami, linguiça, anchovies, basil, and garlic. A full Italian menu includes traditional stunners, such as from-scratch lasagna, bubbly warm tomato sauces, and stacked Philly cheese steaks. An accompanying dessert menu features fluffy tiramisu to decadent chocolate mousse cake. In the dining room, calzones spill steam that rises up towards framed jerseys, signed photos of athletes, and 5 flat screen TVs. An ample salad bar offers tasty greens for patrons in search of lighter bites. Outside the eatery, patrons lounge on a terrace, sipping on wine or one of the 10 beers on tap while enjoying the breeze. The Pizza Place's traditional culinary treasures earned them the title of "Best Pizza Place 2009" in The Placer Herald.
Cooks at Pizza Factory have been stacking their house-made dough with homemade sauce, pure mozzarella cheese, and fresh toppings since 1978. In addition to assembling customized pizzas that can hoist more than 30 toppings, they bake up specialty pies, including the beef- and salsa-topped Fiesta and the Canadian bacon-packed Greasy Spoon, which, like its namesake, only sticks to noses for half of a second. They round out their menu of Italian staples with pastas such as spaghetti alfredo, calzones, subs, and an all-you-can-eat salad bar.
All of Rico's Italian Pizza's dough discs are tossed by hand before being slathered with sauce, strewn with fresh toppings, and baked to a bubbly golden brown. Create your own circular edible by choosing thin, medium, or thick crust, then picking toppings ($11.95+). Or, go for a prearranged pie, such as the generously topped Carnivore (pepperoni, salami, italian sausage, ground beef, linguica, and canadian bacon; $14.95). Take-and-bake pizzas await ovens where they can be incubated until their flavors hatch ($8.95–$9.95). Rico's menu also offers sandwiches and salads for people who don't like cutting circles into triangles. Plus, the restaurant's casual décor makes any meal there more relaxing than a picnic in a gutted bus at the bottom of a quarry.