My Buddies Pizza celebrates 20 years of dishing up the hand-tossed pizzas, calzones, and sandwiches on its extensive menu, served in a family eatery furnished with blinking arcade games. Pepper the cheesy base of an extra-large pie with two toppings, choosing from a veritable cornucopia of fresh ingredients, including chorizo, candied pecans, and refried beans. Iceberg verdures shroud fresh bushels of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and pepperoncinis within large salads, and diners irrigate arid palates with frosty chalices of Coke, Dr. Pepper, or Sprite. Afterward, patrons can admire the eatery’s wall-mounted TVs or take their 20 tokens to the spacious game room in pursuit of My Buddies’ prizes and 8-bit contenders.
Peppino's menu of family-style portions provides more savory pairings than grandma could shake a slotted spoon at. Ease a land lover into the seafood sampler, composed of halibut, shrimp, scallops, and salmon atop a bed of angel-hair pasta infused with a garlic-basil tomato sauce and a splash of white wine ($21.95), or teach the young ones the true meaning of antipasto with a piled-high salad of salami, capicola, ham, mortadella, provolone, red onions, black olives, tomatoes, pepperoncini, kitchen sinks, roasted peppers, and mixed greens ($9.95).
Bonafede-family matriarch Anita started JoJo's Pizza Kitchen more than four decades ago, and her discerning taste for ingredients is still identifiable in the menu. Though her son Joe, who napped on flour sacks in the back of the restaurant as a child, now runs the eatery, fresh basil and plum tomatoes grown in Stanislaus County still release aromas that hint at sun-soaked furrows. Through a dining room window, guests catch glimpses of chefs tossing freshly risen dough for pizzas or smaller chefs for their adorable giggles. They grate fresh parmesan cheese as wine cooks slowly down with mushrooms on the stovetop and chicken marinates in lemon and garlic. Servers bustle past, filling glasses with house wines or draft beers.
Walk roughly five minutes west of the beaches of Capistrano Bight and you’ll find Surfside Pizza. There, charmed by the not-too-distant sound of the waves, chefs spend their days pounding out dough for a hearty assortment of hand-tossed pizzas. Most of it goes toward making the eatery’s 30-inch pie—aptly named “The Big One”—that can be topped with everything from simple cheese to specialty ingredients such as barbecue chicken or homemade meatballs and mushrooms. In addition to pies, the chefs also craft scratch-made favorites including sub sandwiches, calzones, and cinnamon-sugar donuts drizzled with chocolate from Willy Wonka’s infinity pool.
Crushed tomatoes and a special blend of spices underpin the secret sauce that gets slathered on every pie at Stuft Pizza. The dough is made by hand from unbleached wheat flour, then strewn with quality meats and cheeses. The chefs have been at this since 1976, and to this day they're still busy churning out pizzas along with wings and lasagna. To wash it all down, customers can sip private-label ales brewed by Firestone Walker.