About David Allen

A journalist for nearly 30 years, David Allen has been chronicling the Inland Valley for the Daily Bulletin since 1997 and blogging since 2007. His first book, "Pomona A to Z," was published in 2014. E-mail David here. Read recent columns here.

Restaurant of the Week: Caffe Allegro, Upland

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Caffe Allegro, 186 N. 2nd Ave. (at Ninth), Upland; open daily

It can be easy to take a restaurant for granted. Downtown Upland’s fortunes ebb and flow, but Caffe Allegro has hung in there for nearly two decades. It opened in 1998, five years after the original location debuted in La Verne, and both are still operating today.

I’ve been to the Upland version perhaps a half-dozen times, both in the early days and then again the past two Decembers, visits that reminded me that it’s an unsung local restaurant.

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There’s patio seating along Second Avenue; inside, a substantial dining room adjoins a dimly lighted, popular wine bar. Near year-end, an upside-down Christmas tree near the front door is an annual sight. The dining room has high ceilings with rooms-spanning arches, inscriptions in Italian and faux sculptures.

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Entrees range from $14 to $32 and include pasta, salads, a few pizzas and more. With friends in 2014, I got tortellini a la pesto ($16); last year, it was linguini tuttomare ($25), with shrimp, scallops, tuna, squid, mussels and clams in broth. An Italian American at the table said, “That’s as Italian a dish as you can get. My parents would be proud of you.”

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Service was low-key and professional. The only problem was the wine three of my friends ordered hadn’t been chilled, and the waiter’s attempt to quick-chill it wasn’t really successful. But they didn’t mind. We also shared a tiramisu ($8).

I’m only an occasional Italian diner, but the Italian American at the table had the same conclusion as me: Allegro is among the better Italian restaurants around these parts. Give them a try if you haven’t, or try them again if it’s been a few years. It’s right where it was last time you saw it.

In the hallway leading to the restrooms: Fellini movie posters. Nice touch.

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‘Helpful Honda Guys’ help artist in Pomona

A SoCal Honda Dealers commercial shows a donation of shop equipment to an artist who makes simple wooden cars out of scrap for children. He’s unnamed, but he’s Richard E. Nunez of Pomona, who goes by the nickname Ren.

After scrap became scarce, Nunez tells me, he wrote Honda asking for wood when the dealers group solicited pitches on Twitter. The Helpful Honda Guys responded within two weeks and came out to his house.

The filming lasted all day but was enjoyable. (The cameraman, he said, worked on “The Da Vinci Code.”) The equipment he got was “like a mini-Home Depot … table saw, two hand sanders, skill saw, different kinds of paint, all sorts of different sizes of wood, paint brushes. The list goes on and on.” He was also paid for the commercials, done in English and Spanish.

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Former United Artists Theater interior, Pomona

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Many of us have wondered what the interior of the old United Artists/California theater in downtown Pomona looks like these days, but as it’s a Spanish church, we’re unlikely to feel comfortable wandering in. But photographer Richard Nunez did go in and snapped a few photos, which he shared with me.

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The auditorium has been significantly altered, and the seats appear to be chairs, not theater seats. And that’s all understandable. Ontario’s Granada is the same shape. But if you were ever in the theater (I wasn’t), you may decide its feel isn’t entirely different. The grillwork by the speaker looks nice.

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In the lobby, below, there’s an area that may have been a candy counter.

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Restaurant of the Week: Tasty Noodle House

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Tasty Noodle House, 2947 Chino Ave. (at Peyton), Chino Hills; open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Chino Hills, as has been noted here before, has the best Chinese food in the Inland Valley. I was planning to eat at Noodle House, but it looked full, and right across the shopping center driveway was a larger restaurant. So I went there instead.

Not that it occurred to me until later, but the second place had the same name plus an adjective, and given the choice between Noodle House and Tasty Noodle House, who wouldn’t upgrade to the tasty one? The sign says simply Tasty House, either due to space considerations or politeness to its neighbor, but the menu and receipt say Tasty Noodle House, which is a Southern California chain of at least seven restaurants, including Walnut, San Gabriel and Irvine.

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Tasty’s interior is immediately appealing: blond wood, benches, slim hanging fixtures and large windows. Scandinavia meets Shanghai.

It was bustling, but there were empty seats, and I was given one, as well as the typically extensive menu and time to look it over. I ordered xiao long bao ($7.50) and sauteed spirals (mushrooms) with leeks ($12), plus a taro milk tea ($3).

The pan of eight XLBs, or soup dumplings, weren’t to the Din Tai Fung standard and were more dumpling than soup, but that didn’t bother me, and they were a good choice.┬áThe leeks (one must have one’s greens) were sauteed with mushrooms and carrots and were very good too; half were taken home, making the price, which seemed a bit high, more palatable. And I liked the taro tea.

By Chinese restaurant standards, the service was friendly, I liked all my items and would go back. It’s only a block from the multiplex, which was my next stop after lunch. Nothing wrong with regular old Noodle House, though. It’s tasty too.

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La Verne Public Library doors

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The La Verne Public Library doors were mentioned in Friday’s column about the new council chamber emblem. They were both done by woodworker Ruben Guajardo. I was told about the library work last November while doing interviews at City Hall and took the opportunity to walk across the parking lot to take a look.

Check out those doors! They were made, I’m told, out of a beloved oak tree that stood in front of La Verne Heights Elementary School and that had died. Even the door handles are unique.

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The library was dedicated in 1985, according to a plaque. It’s a county library branch, but thanks to the doors, it’s got some personality. The rest of the interior is very 1980s. But the lobby offers a striking silhouette of the doors.

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