The chefs at FalconesPizza can cater to any pizza palate. Depending on a customer's personal tastes, they toss crusts that are hearty and thick or as thin as the parchment from which Leonardo da Vinci placed his first take-out order. Toppings, too, range from traditional flavors, such as the pesto, garlic, tomatoes, and fresh basil that make up the Napoli, to the inventive combination atop the shrimp pizza, which pairs succulent seafood with chorizo, pepperoni, and onions. Italian meats such as mortadella and capacolla join fresh mozzarella on salads and sandwiches, and family-style trays of baked ziti or lasagna keep large groups from taking over a grocery store.
When owner Frank White took over this Downey eatery—then called Granata's Italian Restaurant—in 2011, the Granata family had already been serving Italian cuisine there for more than 54 years, according to the Downey Patriot. Today, White still plucks recipes from the family cookbook but has also added his own touch with a new menu of hot and cold Spanish-style tapas. Made with gourmet ingredients such as fresh clams, spanish piquillo peppers, and rich serrano ham, the new plates are small enough to be shared with friends or slingshotted spitefully at enemies. The chefs also use locally sourced ingredients for classic Italian meals whenever possible, festooning linguine carbonara with fresh sweet peas and veal parmigiana with rich tomato sauce.
In the renovated dining area, blue pendant lamps light the full bar and surrounding cherry-wood tables and chairs. Flat-screen TVs share wall space with murals of the Venetian canals where Leonardo da Vinci first learned to jet ski.
When it came time for the team at Johnny Carino’s to come up with some new recipes, they began rifling through their personal cooking histories. Executive chef Chris Peitersen took his first kitchen job at a barbecue joint when he was 14, so he was primed to create italian baby back ribs. By infusing brown sugar barbecue sauce with balsamic vinegar imported from Modena, he’s given the marinade a more acidic bite than typical barbecue sauces. As the ribs slowly roast and char on an oak grill, he bastes on his creation before finishing the dish with a dusting of parmesan.
The ribs are one of Carino’s many menu items that follow the restaurants’ approach of classic Italian preparations modified by forward-thinking flavor combinations. Diners will find a Black Angus burger capped with mozzarella and fried pepperoni, or sautéed tilapia spiced with garlic and jalapeño. Other signature dishes include the 16-layer lasagna, Skilletinis that sizzle with spaghetti and a choice of meat, and tiramisu made from scratch.
At the heart of Pepz Pizza and Brew House lies its owners' passion for bettering the community through outreach and service. They show their neighborhood love not only through fundraisers and discounts for the star student, but also with an atmosphere warmer than the sun’s feelings for coconut-scented tanning oil. The pizzeria's hefty menu gives diners loads of options, from specialty pizzas including the vegetarian and a chorizo-topped Mexican-style pie, to crisp salads tossed with barbecue dressing and chicken breast. Pasta, sandwiches, and the house secret-recipe "broasted" chicken hold their own on the menu to the unbridled admiration of second-string dishes at pizzerias everywhere. Once meals have wrapped up, parents can kick back and catch some TV as kids horse around in the arcade and game area.
Rose City Pizza creates Italian cuisine and authentic New York¬–style pizzas using high-quality ingredients and handmade pizza dough. Drawing on their Scuola Italiano Pizzaioli–certified skills, master pizza chefs knead, toss, and transform flour paste into a flurry of large specialty pizzas. Although the selection varies from day to day, Rose City always offers cheese-pie lovers a marvelous variety of tomato sauciness. Cherry peppers and melted mozzarella on a slice of Spicy Pepperoni admirably complement most pool-cleaning parties, and the Spinach Pie (white sauce, garlic, and sautéed spinach) is certain to please cheek-pinching matriarchs and inflatable-forearmed sailor men alike. To celebrate a victory or commiserate over a defeat, sports fans can stick around and indulge in Canadian ham, bacon bits, and pineapple chunks waiting on The Aloha, gulp a slice of Tomato Pesto, or find comfort in a doughy disc of meat-shunning Veggie Delight. Swing by the restaurant or call ahead to see what specialty offerings are available that day.