Monaco’s Pizza, 7325 Day Creek Blvd., Suite 101 (at Base Line), Rancho Cucamonga
Monaco’s is in the Henry’s Market center at Base Line Road, just up the road from Victoria Gardens. The interior has an upscale look: There’s a greeter’s station and the decor includes faux-marble tabletops, dark wood chairs and wine bottles behind glass.
The menu has a page with the restaurant’s backstory. I didn’t finish reading it before the waitress arrived but did manage to glean that the same family ran Sal’s Red Devil Pizza prior to this restaurant.
We ordered the seafood linguine ($16) and the cheese ravioli ($9.50). They came with dinner salads, which were basically iceberg lettuce, cheese and olives, with dressing in a small plastic container, as if we’d ordered the food to go. This salad would cost $3.50 if ordered separately.
Now, this is essentially the same salad you get at San Biagio’s in Upland, only San Biagio’s is an unpretentious place where you order at the counter. The Monaco’s salad is kind of a weak for a place with upscale pretensions. The entrees, however, were perfectly acceptable, if not up to the level of the decor.
I went back on my own for lunch to try the pizza. I read a bit more of the Monaco’s story, such as the family’s arrival here around 1960 and someone’s (the mother’s?) employment at Nordstrom, but once again had to order before I could get very far. I ordered a small pizza with anchovies and mushrooms ($14). Pretty good stuff, with generous, quality toppings and a moderately thick, slightly crunchy crust.
My friend Bob, who lives in the neighborhood and recommended the place, especially likes the pizza. If I lived nearby I’d probably go there more frequently. (For one thing, maybe then I could finish reading the family’s story.) But Bob agrees the food is more casual than the decor.
* Update, February 2014: I returned with a friend for dinner and to take photos. He had a calzone, I had a pizza. As with the above, which was with a different friend, neither of us was particularly impressed by the food, only the decor. The calzone was cold in spots and the sauce bland; my pizza was okay but nothing special. And I took a photo of the menu’s “story,” which is also on the Monaco’s website. The same family has owned Sal’s Red Devil Pizza since 1991 and opened Monaco’s in 2006.