A few years ago, I started jotting down Restaurant of the Week possibilities by city, crossing out spots where I went or that closed, adding new spots that I saw or that were suggested to me. It was only recently that I started over with a fresh sheet of paper. Above is the endlessly revised first list; click on it for a readable view if you like. Even without clicking, one thing is obvious: This list should have been tossed long before I finally did so.
Friday’s column profiles a centenarian who’s about to turn 101. Her pals say she’s a an excellent pinochle player and also an excellent friend.
In Pasadena recently, I noticed a parking sign in the Playhouse district, above, had an addition: “No Parking 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. City Wide.” That reminded me of Claremont’s long-established policy, below, which bans street parking during those same hours, which many residents hate. (Claremont only posts the signs at entrances to the city, another irritant.)
People always say Claremont is trying to copy Pasadena. Is this a case of the opposite occurring?
Update: Maybe not — reader Henry Fung says Pasadena has had a ban for years but only had signs at city limits, a la Claremont, until recently.
Friday’s column starts with my look back at memorable restaurants of 2015 — and news that Pomona’s Stein Haus, the former Friar Tuck’s, has closed. After that: a bunch of short items from Chino Hills, the cinema scene and Upland.
There’s no particular rhyme or reason to how I choose restaurants for my Restaurant of the Week posts, other than that I try not to leave any cities out. But some cities get more exposure here than others.
Fontana, Chino and San Dimas have had the least attention traditionally, with Fontana and San Dimas being on our borders and Chino, like them, being hard to get to on my lunch break. (Poor Fontana had only been featured three times prior to Jan. 1.)
For 2015, though, I decided to start off right by rotating among all our cities. In order, I’ve written about Seventh Heaven (Upland), El Fortin 3 (Chino), Stein Haus (Pomona), Noodle House (Chino Hills), El Gallo Giro (Fontana), 5 Star Pizza (Ontario), Lucille’s BBQ (Rancho Cucamonga), Cafe Moderno (Montclair), the Harvey Mudd Dining Hall (Claremont), Wahfles (La Verne) and Angela’s Italian Kitchen (San Dimas).
From this point, I won’t be sticking to a rotation, as it’s kind of limiting, but at least I got to every city this year, something I can’t always say. And it’s barely spring.
(True, I didn’t get to Diamond Bar, Glendora or Norco, at least not yet, but those are really the hinterlands as far as we’re concerned.)
Seventh Heaven Cafe, 1042 N. Mountain Ave. (at Foothill), Upland; closed Monday
This Italian-influenced cafe, which bills itself as “gourmet casual dining, pizza and art,” opened in July 2014 in the old Albertsons center on the northeast corner of Foothill and Mountain. Reader Rick Cuevas tipped me off that it was good, and people on Yelp agree. I scheduled dinner there with a friend.
A wood-fired pizza oven is the big draw; supposedly it’s the only such pizzeria in the area. For more authenticity, the kitchen uses only organic flour from Naples. This isn’t the place to get your pepperoni pizza for the big game; while they do have pepperoni, toppings run more to organic roasted pork, peso, artichoke hearts and grilled eggplant.
The pizzas themselves come in 10- and 14-inch sizes and the 14-inch one we got, with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and provolone ($15), was in the charred Italian style, not the chewy, heavily sauced American style. We liked it a lot.
The interior is minimalist but stylish: blond wood tables and chairs, drop-down pendant lights, interesting art on the walls, even a few jars of jam and handmade jewelry for sale. That weeknight, the dining room filled up with actual adults. “This place is really popular with people who aren’t teenagers,” my friend said approvingly.
Most items are made from scratch, including the sauces and dressings, and customer favorites from the menu are said to be salads, chili and the pizza. They have craft beers and wine by the glass.
Dinner wasn’t perfect: They delivered the pizza to our table but we had to remind them we’d ordered two sides and that I’d ordered a drink. My friend didn’t like the side, a kind of rice pilaf (it was a special and I can’t remember what they called it); I ate mine.
I’d have written this post back in December but I wanted to go back for a second meal. I did go back the next week, but it was a Monday, which turns out to be the one day they’re closed. The year ended and my column item on my favorite restaurants of 2014 appeared, and a woman phoned to ask, didn’t I know about Seventh Heaven? I was impressed and told her I did know about it and that I’d have the post done this week.
So, on Tuesday I went in for a late lunch. I was going to try one of the panini sandwiches, but a daily special, gnocchi with homemade sauce ($9), was tempting. Well, I liked that too. It was a light lunch, and probably I should have ordered a side of some sort, but they don’t seem to have a small salad.
I expect I’ll go back for a salad or panini, and maybe dessert: They have biscotti, lemon bars, cookies, semi-freddo and granita. Nice to see a restaurant trying to achieve a higher level. Seventh Heaven is a blissful addition to Upland.
Friday’s column begins with a summary of the best restaurants I tried in 2014, as well as listing my local favorites, from the new to the traditional. Clip and save! Or print out and save, or something. After that: items from Upland and Montclair, and a movie quote about Corona. You’re encouraged to list your own local restaurant favorites or discoveries in the comments section!
As with Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana, I’ve focused in recent months on updating 2007-09 Restaurant of the Week posts from Claremont, La Verne and Pomona, adding photos to these photo-less posts and, if I ate there again, a few lines about the meal.
Click on the names to find the updates for, in Claremont, Casablanca, La Parolaccia, La Piccoletta and Malott Commons; in La Verne, the Habit, Red Devil Pizza, Sal’s Pizza and Bagelry and the Tenderloin; and in Pomona, Hilltop Jamaican, Macho Pollo and Omana’s. And I (why not?) added a photo to a Pomona-based entry from 2008 about Mexican Coca-Cola.
I also cleaned up the restaurants listings for Claremont, La Verne and Pomona, shifting any closed restaurants (that I know about) to the Inland Valley Eatin’ category with the notation “CLOSED.”
Further updates to other cities as time permits.
Wednesday’s column is about a stand at the Fair selling a hot-ticket food item, burgers with buns made of ramen noodles. They’re big elsewhere but so far haven’t caught on in Pomona. But, the Fair is still young…
Above, manager Basil Banks holds one with egg, bacon and cheese; below, my sandwich.
One of the foods I will not eat is peas. Dates to childhood. I will not give peas a chance. This means there are pastas, fried rices and occasional other dishes that I won’t order at a restaurant or buy in a store. Chicken pot pies almost always have peas, for instance.
Usually I’ll check for suspicious ingredients, but I let my guard down Sunday at Fresh and Easy when I bought the seemingly innocent Lemon Salmon Quinoa and Brown Rice entree. Then I heated it up for dinner and discovered peas. Plenty of them. I began fishing them out with a fork. And kept fishing, and kept fishing. This wasn’t easy, as the dish also had asparagus, which is also green but which I will eat.
Have you ever tried separating an objectionable item from a dish? Just when you think you’ve got them all, you find more. I thought I was done, then found probably 10 more. When I started eating, another pea turned up almost immediately. Eventually three more hidden peas were spotted. All in all, this 9-ounce serving had something like 60 peas. It should have been called Lemon Peas, Etc.
I won’t be buying that entree again, obviously. (The rest was tasty in a healthful way. It might be less work to make the dish from scratch, sans peas.) Your turn: Is there an item, or two or three, you resolutely refuse to eat?