Continuing the Italian tradition of pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), Pizzeria Venti hand-tosses a handful of oven-baked, circular pies teeming with trans-fat-free toppings. Like a repertory theater, Venti's homespun crust acts as a stage for more than 20 pizza performances. The pillowy crusts are pedestals for varieties such as house-made italian sausage, seasoned with fennel, fresh basil, and herbs ($3.50 for a slice) or chicken vesuvio which touts a roasted breast of chicken, mushrooms, black olives and garlic ($4.75 per slice). Though pizza prevails as Venti's main attraction, the menu is also stocked with baked pastas ($6.50+), salads ($6+), and soups ($3+) to create a culinary lineup that is more well-rounded than a reconstructed Humpty Dumpty.
The original New York?style pizzas at Times Square New York Style Pizzeria begin with a hand-tossed crust. Then, the chefs cover the disc with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and oregano?a simple combination that yields a flavorful punch. Of course, the pizza chefs don?t shy away from piling on the toppings, with such specialty pies as the bacon double cheeseburger and the tropical hawaiian. Pies can be made gluten free for those with allergies or sensitivities, and toppings can be stuffed into calzones for those with a fear of triangular foods. Staffers serve draft beers by the pint glass, pitcher, or thimble.
Pizza Factory treats its guests to freshly baked pizzas, hand-tossed and covered liberally with real mozzarella cheese and traditional or creative toppings. After making the thick- or thin-crust dough, chefs ladle pizzas with house-made marinara and crown them with toppings such as linguica, pesto sauce, cashews, and canadian bacon. Or they whip up their signature creations, such as the Cajun chicken pizza, topped with spicy poultry and creamy mozzarella.
After dining on a pie, pasta and garlic bread, or a piping-hot calzone, guests can swap their dollars and gold doubloons for arcade tokens and play skee-ball or another classic arcade game.
Armed with recipes from their Sicilian family members, Larry and Rose Lepley opened their first Mama Rose’s Pizzeria in Huntingdon Beach in 1976—partly with the help of kids from the neighborhood, who cleaned and painted in exchange for pizza. After the unassuming restaurant began to win local awards, the Lepleys and their five children opened a second location. Their son Joe eventually took over the business, moving the bustling pizza joint to Murrieta, where it continues to serve the same family recipes it has since the beginning. Mama Rose's took first place in the Press-Enterprise's 2012 Readers' Choice Awards for Best Slice of Pizza—a slice available with a traditional sturdy Sicilian crust or with a gluten-free base. In addition to meatballs, sausage, and olives, diners can also add ingredients such as breaded eggplant, cashews, and salami.
Beyond pizza, there are toasted sandwiches, pasta dinners, and breadsticks topped with house-made garlic butter and kisses blown from an Italian grandmother. A more recent additiion to the menu is a selection of wines from Leoness Cellars in Temecula, chosen to pair well with such desserts as a sticky apple pizza and New York–style cheesecake.
Xiomara Hall has been described as a "fast-talking woman with the giant personality and charm to match her even bigger foodie swag" by Inland Empire Weekly critic Nancy Powell. Hall comes by her culinary skills honestly—born in Puerto Rico, she was raised with the Caribbean flavors of her family's tropical cooking. When she moved to the United States, she soon discovered southern barbecue. Heavily influenced by the melding of these two worlds, she gives a taste of her personal history to diners each day at Tropical BBQ. "My life story is in that jerk sauce," Hall says of one of her five mojo sauces.
These sauces—including chimichurri (basil), spicy jerk pineapple, and jalapeño relish—add the finishing touches to plates that fuse the flavors of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, St. Croix, and the American South. Hall pairs slow-cooked beef brisket, pineapple-jerk chicken and Puerto Rican pasteles with sides such as yucca fries or rice and beans. Her juicy ribs and tri-tips arrive fresh from the smoker to pair up with tropical refreshments including passionfruit juice, pineapple soda, coconut water, and mango juice.