Restaurant of the Week: Valentino’s Pizzeria


Valentino’s Pizzeria, 644 E. Arrow Highway (at Towne), Pomona

Pomona isn’t a pizza town; after the usual delivery suspects, and a Round Table, about as exotic as it gets is Pizza Loca. Valentino’s, a hole in the wall spot in a slightly sketchy shopping center at Towne and Arrow, is well-regarded among locals, so when some Pomona friends and I wanted a pizza delivery, I suggested Valentino’s. Anything for a blog post.

We got two customized extra-large pizzas ($15.50 for three toppings, $17 for four items), one with extra-thin crust, recommended by Yelp commenters. The chefs can’t really do extra-thin if you get more than two toppings, but they tried. Delivery took a while, but the driver was apologetic and blamed staffing issues on a busy Friday.

The pizzas had crisp crust, lots of cheese, chunks of sausage, fresh mushrooms. (One had jalapenos and olives, neither of which was my idea.) Our reactions ranged from mildly impressed (“This is pretty good”) to mildly unimpressed (“It’s not slaying me”).

The menu also has a few sandwiches, buffalo wings, salads and calzones. But it’s mostly pizza.

I returned for an early dinner last Sunday. They have a deal, two slices of pizza and a can of soda for $4.99 plus tax, which I’ll try another time. I got a meatball sandwich ($7, bottom), which arrived open-faced, covered in cheese and looking like a Stouffer’s french bread pizza — but better, and with meatballs. I ate the whole thing, later wishing I’d saved half for lunch the next day.

Valentino’s has only five small tables with folding metal chairs, but it has a downscale charm, and the food’s pretty good.

Oh, and they have another deal, written on a pizza box on display near the counter: “Try our Triple Bypass Monster Pizza, win $200, eat the whole pizza, 1 person, 1 1/2 hours. Cheese + 2 toppings.”

I’ll just get the two-slice special, thanks.



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Mod! Chino Post Office

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Chino’s Post Office, 5375 Walnut Ave., is a grabber. I like the decorative pillars, which link horizontally toward the top. Very mod. The facade sign that reads “United States Post Office, Chino California 91710” is cool too.

The facility opened in 1970. It says so right on this plaque by the entrance. I took a peek at the interior and it was drab, although the air conditioning was vigorous.

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Books read, 2013


I don’t mean to seem to be all about numbers, but when you’ve let your unread books pile up, as I’ve done, measuring your progress takes a higher priority than it would otherwise. For this photo, I piled up the books I read in 2013. Since I began reading intensively again, I’ve read 75 in 2013, 80 in 2012, 60 in 2011, 52 in 2010 and 58 in 2009. Hey, that’s five years! Five years and 325 books. No sense in stopping now, so I’m going to keep reading.

Authors most represented in 2013: two each by Suzanne Collins, Nick Hornby and Jonathan Lethem; three by Dave Barry; and, er, 16 by Harlan Ellison. (Or 15. “Ellison Wonderland” and “Earthman, Go Home” are the same book with different introductions. I count them as one.) Last year, this author list was longer, with multiple authors in the two-, three- and four-book list. I guess this means, Ellison aside, that a lot of my reading was one-offs.

How did I not read any Mark Twain for two straight years?! Definitely I’ll read “A Tramp Abroad” this year. Of course, last year in this space I said I’d be starting it “any day now.” I won’t make that promise, but I will read it.

Sunday’s column is about my reading from last year. Below is a list of every title.

1. “Around the World in 80 Days,” Jules Verne

2. “We’ll Always Have Paris,” Ray Bradbury

3. “The Brazil Series,” Bob Dylan

4. “Slouching Toward Bethlehem,” Joan Didion

5. “Holy Land,” D.J. Waldie

6. “America (The Book),” Jon Stewart and The Daily Show

7. “On the Road,” Jack Kerouac

8. “Icons of the Highway,” Tony and Eva Worobiec

9. “Exile on Main Street (33 1/3 series),” Bill Janovitz

10. “Angry Candy,” Harlan Ellison

11. “Strange Wine,” Harlan Ellison

12. “Cat’s Pajamas and Witch’s Milk,” Peter De Vries

13. “Smith on Wry,” Jack Smith

14. “The Hunger Games,” Suzanne Collins

15. “A Moveable Feast,” Ernest Hemingway

16. “The Accordion Repertoire,” Franklin Bruno

17. “The Pearl,” John Steinbeck

18. “Selected Poems,” e.e. cummings

19. “Kafka Americana,” Jonathan Lethem and Carter Scholz

20. “Adventures in Pet Sitting,” Michael Arterburn

21. “From Bauhaus to Our House,” Tom Wolfe

22. “Anguished English,” Richard Lederer

23. “The Elements of Style,” William Strunk and E.B. White

24. “How to Kick the War Habit,” T. Willard Hunter

25. “Leaves of Grass” (1855 Edition), Walt Whitman

26. “The End of the Tether,” Joseph Conrad

27. “Ask the Dust,” John Fante

28. “An Education: The Screenplay,” Nick Hornby

29. “Our Town,” Thornton Wilder

30. “Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway,” Dave Barry

31. “Housekeeping vs. The Dirt,” Nick Hornby

32. “The Rock Snob’s Dictionary,” David Kamp and Steven Daly

33. “Candide,” Voltaire

34. “Dylan: The 5 Minute Visual Bob-ography,” Roy Gyongy Fox

35. “The Mezzanine,” Nicholson Baker

36. “The Early Worm,” Robert Benchley

37. “The Columnist,” Jeffrey Frank

38. “The Best of Jack Williamson”

39. “Over the Edge,” Harlan Ellison

40. “The Planet of the Apes Chronicles,” Paul Woods

41. ”The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Michael Pollan

42. “Ulysses,” James Joyce

43. “Boogers are my Beat,” Dave Barry

44. “Ellison Wonderland”/”Earthman, Go Home,” Harlan Ellison

45. “Paingod and Other Delusions,” Harlan Ellison

46. “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World,” Harlan Ellison

47. “Love Ain’t Nothing But Sex Misspelled,” Harlan Ellison

48. “Stalking the Nightmare,” Harlan Ellison

49. “The Kinks: The Official Biography,” Jon Savage

50. “Approaching Oblivion,” Harlan Ellison

51. “Spider Kiss,” Harlan Ellison

52. “Phoenix Without Ashes,” Edward Bryant and Harlan Ellison

53. “The Book of Ellison,” Andrew Porter, ed.

54. “Elvis: The Illustrated Record,” Roy Carr and Mick Farren

55. “Much Ado About Nothing,” William Shakespeare

56. “Troublemakers,” Harlan Ellison

57. “Googie Redux,” Alan Hess

58. “Diners,” John Baeder

59. “Dave Barry’s Money Secrets,” Dave Barry

60. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales,” Edgar Allan Poe

61. ”The House That Sam Built: Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley 1945-1985,” Harold Nelson

62. ”The Shuttered Room and Other Stories,” H.P. Lovecraft with August Derleth

63. “No Doors, No Windows,” Harlan Ellison

64. “A Room With a View,” E.M. Forster

65. “Catching Fire,” Sizanne Collins

66. “Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Bittersweet Story of 1970,” David Browne

67. “Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic,” Dan Auiler

68. “Henry Bumstead and the World of Hollywood Art Direction,” Andrew Horton

69. “The Art of Alfred Hitchcock,” Donald Spoto

70. “The Films of Alfred Hitchcock,” Robert Harris and Michael Lasky

71. “Mudd’s Angels,” J.A. Lawrence

72. “Casablanca,” Richard Anobile

73. ”Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson,” Kevin Avery, ed.

74. “Chronic City,” Jonathan Lethem

75. “The City on the Edge of Forever,” Harlan Ellison

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Column: Hammers are swinging in downtown Pomona, at last

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Two large apartment complexes are under construction in downtown Pomona, several years after a downtown boom was predicted. Better late than never. That news leads my Friday column, followed by yet more items from Pomona, as well as our other cities. (In fact, one item mentions every city we cover.)

Above, the Daumier apartments under construction in December.

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Restaurant of the Week: Elvira’s Mexican Grill



Elvira’s Mexican Grill, 373 E. Foothill Blvd. (at 4th), Upland; open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner but closes at 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Elvira’s opened early in 2013 in a strip mall in Upland and has received strong ratings online. Twitter follower Original Pechanga (!) also advised me to check it out and recommended the flan. So, in the area for lunch recently, I dropped in.

It’s a sit-down place, everything new and tidy, with neat touches in the decor. The menu notes that they make their chile rellenos and tamales daily. Accordingly, I got the No. 3 combo ($9.49, above), with a chicken tamale, cheese enchilada, rice and beans. Excellent, and I liked the green salsa on the tamale. The complimentary chips and salsa were fresh and delicious.

Only after I left did I remember the flan. Well, a repeat visit was not exactly an unpleasant prospect. A couple of weeks later, I returned for another lunch. This time I got the No. 2 combo ($9.49), with a chile relleno, cheese tamale, rice and beans. Also very good. The chile relleno was light despite being fried.

At this point I didn’t really need the flan ($4.59, below), but I got it anyway. Served on a plate, the flan was a disc an inch high, practically the dimensions of a quarter pounder, firm and creamy, whipped cream on top. It would be better for two or three to share, but I’m not ashamed to say I finished it solo. Well, maybe a little ashamed.

It’s a family run restaurant, named, because you are no doubt dying to know this, for the family matriarch rather than for the Mistress of the Dark. Many of the recipes are hers. Based on the results, she’s now my favorite Elvira. And a tip of the sombrero to Original Pechanga for the advice.



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