A blockbuster wedding invite

Making the Internet rounds is a very funny “save the date” video for the October 2010 wedding of Jeff Wong and Erin Martin, made as a parody of trailers for big-budget movies. The couple met at the Claremont Colleges. According to their website, they met in 2000 when he was an engineering student at Harvey Mudd and she was majoring in psychology at Scripps. Awwww.

The video prompted pieces on CBS’ “Early Show,” NBC Channel 4 and Huffington Post. I heard about it from reader Don J.

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Restaurant of the Week: Pizzaioli

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Pizzaioli Ristorante Italiano, 3920 Grand Ave. (at Pipeline), Chino.

I’m not sure how you pronounce the name exactly — “pete’s-ay-ee-oh-lee,” perhaps — but I sometimes think of adding an “ee-oh-ee-oh,” as if we were yodeling. Anyhow, I met up there for lunch last weekend with readers Doug Evans, Hugh McBride and Elizabeth Casian, allowing for a four-way review.

Pizzaioli, in the Chino Spectrum center, has been in business since 1995. Despite the shopping center setting, the interior greets you with a well-stocked bar and an elegant feel. The dining room is adjacent and there’s also patio seating. The ambience is upscale-casual, reminiscent of Macaroni Grill. The menu boasts fancy pizzas, paninis, salads, pastas, seafood, steaks and chops, with entrees ranging from $10 to $30.

Our table had eggplant parmesan ($15), described as “fantastic”; chicken al vino ($15), “very good”; manicotti ($13), called “okay” (blah cheese, decent sauce, but a large enough portion to take home half); and chicken with spinach ravioli ($15, pictured), mine, which I’d say was “not bad,” although the presentation looks more slipshod than it seemed at the time. Some of these items were daily specials not on the regular menu. We also had dinner salads ($7 each). Service was attentive but they knew to leave us alone to enjoy a long, chatty lunch.

Overall, good, although perhaps a few bucks pricier than strictly necessary. You could do a lot worse. Apparently it’s especially popular for weekend dinners. Pizzaioli-oh-lee-ay!

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Air raid!

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Southern California is known for wantonly erasing its past, so it’s a pleasant surprise to find that multiple World War II-era air raid sirens still stand. Here are two in downtown L.A., one at Broadway and Temple near the old Hall of Justice, left, the other on Olive and Second by the Music Center parking structure, below, the tip of Disney Hall poking up behind.

Close to home, Claremont has one on Sixth Street east of Mills on the Claremont McKenna campus, next to the bottom. I’m relieved to know my city of residence is prepared in case of attack, perhaps by Montclair.

UPDATE: As commenters below brought to my attention, Claremont has a second air raid siren, on Oxford Avenue between 10th and 11th streets. I’ve added a photo of it at the bottom.

This website has photos of nine more in the L.A. area, including in Eagle Rock, MacArthur Park and near LACMA. This page has photos of 38 L.A.-area sirens, albeit without the locations identified. More than anyone would ever want to know about air raid sirens can be found on this Wikipedia page.

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Miss Pomona crowned

Bedsairy (Betsy) Santoyo is the new Miss Pomona, crowned in a ceremony Saturday in which yours truly was one of the judges. Look for my column on the experience on Wednesday.

In the meantime, the Metro Pomona blog has a writeup, with a Flickr slideshow by photographer Sally Egan. Elsewhere, on the M-M-M-My Pomona blog, a blogger enjoyed the event yet expresses unease.

I was happy to be asked to judge. After all, I’ve led a parade and I’ve judged a chili cookoff, but I’d never judged a pageant.

Does this mean I have the world’s corniest bucket list? No, but after participating in two staples of small-town Americana, a pageant would make a trifecta.

All three of those events, by the way, were in downtown Pomona, which is apparently a traditional-values hotbed. I don’t know what’s next down there. Maybe an ice cream social and a rodeo.

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Restaurant of the Week: Chef Dave’s Cafe

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Chef Dave’s Cafe, 10574 Acacia St. (at Haven), Rancho Cucamonga

Chef Dave’s is in a nondescript office park, as the photo indicates, there primarily to serve nearby workers and do catering. The cafe interior has a bit more individuality, with burgundy tablecloths and paintings on the walls, but it’s slightly bare, indicating that dining-in is only one component of the business. This first-timer went there for lunch on a rainy Tuesday and was the only diner, although two people came in for takeout.

Someone alerted me to this place a while back, recommending the gumbo. The menu, which is written on a chalkboard, changes frequently, and there was no gumbo this week, alas. Dave’s has a bistro-type menu and feel, with hot and cold sandwiches and salads, nothing more expensive than $6.89. Customers order at the counter.

I ordered the jerk chicken sandwich ($6.89) and an iced tea. I didn’t know what to expect, but the sandwich was a pleasant surprise, mildly spicy and accompanied by onions and cheese. A few pieces of grilled pineapple made a nice garnish.

Open weekdays only from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., they do lunch and a few breakfast items. If you want to ask what’s on the menu, phone (909) 941-0303. While I wouldn’t recommend driving across town to eat here, if you find yourself in the neighborhood — it’s a block east of Haven and just south of the new underpass — Chef Dave’s is worth hunting down.

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Claremont Insider is back

Just when you thought it was safe to use the Internet, the valley’s most feared blog is back. After an absence of five months, the Claremont Insider resumed daily posting on Monday, smacking around the usual suspects (Oliver Chi, Ellen Taylor, the 400) as if nothing had changed.

As we regular readers might expect from a blog that beats the drum for transparency from behind the curtain of anonymity, there was no explanation for its death or its (pre-Easter) resurrection. C’mon, Insider, we were hoping for some insider gossip!

Well, there was a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the situation at the end of the first post, which was about the storm: “The commotion is enough to wake the dead, or even the e-dead.”

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