As a boy, Bob Quintana’s first bite of pizza came fresh from the kitchen of his Italian neighbors, the Marones. Inspired by the authentic taste, he and his family began baking their own pies with herbs and tomatoes from their garden. Bob’s early encounters with Italian food burgeoned into a career at various local pizzerias, which eventually led him to open Li’l Nick’s Pizza with his wife in 1978.
Named for his then two-year-old son, the eatery was truly a family affair, with Bob's mom Ruby in the kitchen whipping up italian sausage. Today, Bob and now-adult Nick continue to rule the restaurant, where staff members create sauce, dough, and meatballs from scratch. Though their menu still flaunts staple pizzas, pasta, and sandwiches, it has expanded to also encompass Mexican tacos and burritos. The eats fuel conversation in two dining rooms, as well as at a recently installed bar with a 60-inch flatscreen TV filled with 60-inch-tall actors.
Vinnola’s Italian Market quashes midday hunger grumblings with a café menu of hot and cold sandwiches, pizzas, and Italian specialties. Newly wedded cheese and sauce emerge from their oven honeymoon on slices of pepperoni or sausage pizza ($1.99). The hearty lasagna provides a multilayered pasta dance floor for taste-bud tap dances ($5.95), and grilled homemade focaccia takes center stage in the paninis, with backup flavors of prosciutto, salami, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, peppers, basil pesto, and bags of chips ($6.99). Classic italian sodas and Pepsi products refresh palates and carbonate mealtimes with a range of old-school flavors. Give postlunch activities a sweet edge with one of Vinnola’s cannoli, prepared in the traditional Italian, Bavarian, and Pistachian styles ($2.35 each).
The flavor maestros at 5 J's Italian Dining compose a menu of authentic Italian pastas, sandwiches, specialty pizzas, and meat-centric entrees. Diners may select an accompaniment of meatballs or sausage for classic marinara-drenched pastas, such as three-cheese ravioli ($9.50) or gnocchi ($9.99). Chefs freshly prepare 5 J's luscious lasagna ($11.99) daily, layering ground beef, sausage, ricotta, mozzarella, basil, and garlic the same way Italian fashion designers do during wintertime. Otherwise, patrons can grab hold of one of the sandwiches, including a meatball sub ($5.99) or italian beef ($5.50), or divvy up a large white pizza ($10.99), which eschews tomato sauce for a more traditional combination of mozzarella, tomatoes, and herbs.