Pieology coming to Rancho Cucamonga

Pieology, a pizza parlor, is coming to Rancho Cucamonga, according to its website. The current locations are Irvine Spectrum and Fullerton. Pieology is a fast-fired pizzeria where the pizzas are done in five minutes. It replaces Okawa Sushi and Grill Relax the Back on Day Creek Boulevard, just below Foothill Boulevard and Victoria Gardens, in the Sears Grand center.

* In related news, the Slater’s 50/50 coming to Victoria Gardens is slated (har!) to open in July, and Brio Tuscan Grille, a national Italian restaurant chain, will open in the VG’s former Borders space later this year.

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Slater’s 50/50 coming to Rancho Cucamonga

Rancho Cucamonga is getting its first gastropub, and it’s a hot name. Slater’s 50/50 is a small chain that began in Anaheim Hills in 2009 and has expanded to four other locations with its beer (100 craft and local beers on tap) and burgers that are half beef, half bacon. Haven’t had one, but it sounds interesting, and Slater’s has won a bunch of “best burger” honors.

Now one is coming to the former Harry’s Pacific Grill building on Day Creek Boulevard on the edge of Victoria Gardens. “This summer,” Slater’s website says.

Btw, my Restaurant of the Week feature will return next Friday.

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Restaurant merry-go-round

• Oporto Chicken outlets in Rancho Cucamonga, Glendora and Ontario, the first three in the United States for an Australian fast-food chain, are now known as Feisty Chicken, a locally owned concept. Break it gently to Crococile Dundee.

• The EZ Take Out Burger at Foothill and Central in Upland will become Ramiro’s Mexican Food No. 2.

• LYL Garden in Claremont, the Chinese restaurant that replaced China Star in 2009, has become a Casa Jimenez.

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Ramon’s Cactus Patch closes

Say it ain’t so! But it is. Ramon’s Cactus Patch, a Mexican restaurant in existence in Ontario since 1938, had its last day of business March 30.

Owner and founder Ramon Sanchez, who will turn 99 on May 21, has colon cancer and his illness has put too much of a strain on the family-run restaurant, the family told me Friday. The restaurant is typically closed Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, during a family meeting, they decided not to reopen Tuesday.

I’ll have the story in Sunday’s column. The banner pictured above hangs outside the restaurant and represents Sanchez’ farewell message to customers.

Sanchez began serving Mexican food in Ontario in 1937 at a cantina and opened his own restaurant the following year in the Orange Hotel downtown before moving in 1962 to 647 W. California St. in the barrio. Ramon’s Cactus Patch, which has a cactus garden out front, is Ontario’s longest-operating restaurant.

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At 20, Panda Inn gets a facelift

Ontario’s Panda Inn has been here since 1992 and recently underwent a million-dollar renovation. Friday’s column talks about the restaurant chain’s ahead-of-the-curve decision to open here and the remodel. Above, Manee Coe and Gigi Cheung flank Andrew Cherng, CEO and co-founder of Panda Restaurant Group, at the Ontario Panda Inn last week.

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Chicago pizza, LA style

Ever had Chicago-style pizza? It’s deep dish, almost like a pie, with “toppings” usually found under the cheese and a crust along the edge that’s an inch or more high. And this kind of pizza isn’t that easy to find in Southern California.

After reading that two friends in Pomona had recently relocated from Chicago, the New Diner blogger sent me a list of Chicago-style pizza parlors in the region. They’re in Riverside (Romano’s), Yucaipa (AJ Barile’s), Echo Park (Masa), Yorba Linda (PHAT) and Placentia (Tony’s). To mix my food metaphors, it’s as if the Inland Valley were the hole in the doughnut.

It hasn’t always been thus. Rancho Cucamonga has had two outlets in the Numero Uno chain, and Upland used to have a mom and pop named Joe Chicago’s. You may know of others. The closest thing now is the BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse chain, with a location in Rancho Cucamonga near Ontario Mills, which serves deep-dish pizza.

Other than that, nada. If you like New York pizza, which I happen to prefer, we have the excellent San Biagio’s in Upland, and there may be more; certainly it seems New York pizza is easier to get and better known around Southern California than Chicago pizza, its total opposite. Don’t a lot of Chicago-ites flee its frigid winters for balmy SoCal, yet crave a taste of home?

Well, we tried the place the New Diner recommended the most highly, Tony’s Little Italy in Placentia, which as luck had it was also the closest, 16 miles from Pomona and a straight shot down the 57. We got a Tony’s special (sausage, mushrooms, onions, peppers), the 14-inch large ($22, I think). They have Chicago sports pennants, photos and other items on the walls for that Chicago touch, and of course you can watch Chicago teams play, and probably lose, on the TVs.

You have to wait 30 minutes for a crust that thick to bake. But the pizza was very good, with the crust especially coming in for praise. It’s so rich and crunchy and buttery. Getting a large was a mistake, in a sense. Chicago pizza is so dense, we could eat only two slices apiece, or 1 1/2 each in my friends’ case. We split up the remaining half (!) to take to our respective homes. I jokingly suggested we simply cut around the rim, share the outer crust and leave the pizza. But of course we wanted the guts of it too. In the end the oversized pizza wasn’t really a mistake because the leftovers were great as well.

Have you had Chicago-style pizza, here or in Chicago, and if so, what did you think?

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Jane’s Addiction in La Verne, 1987

Strange but true: The alt-rock band Jane’s Addiction performed on Sept. 3, 1987 at Topper’s, a nightclub that took over the Cattleman’s Wharf location in La Verne. (A previous blog post about Cattleman’s, with a photo, can be seen here.) It’s not as momentous as Van Halen playing at Walter Mitty’s in Pomona in 1976, but it’s still peculiar.

Reader Eric alerted me to the gig after seeing an eBay listing for a bootleg from the show.

He says the set list was: “Ted, Just Admit It…,” “Whores,” “Pigs In Zen,” “Idiots Rule, “1%,” “Mountain Song,” “Trip Away,” “Had A Dad,” “Ocean Song,” “Up The Beach,” “Stop!,” “I Would For You,” “Standing In The Shower… Thinking,” “No One’s Leaving.” He found fliers for the two gigs on the band’s website.

Why were they in La Verne? It’s slightly mysterious. Eric notes: “At that time, they were on a tour and playing larger venues like Irvine Meadows (now Verizon Amphitheater) just a few weeks before. Maybe they were playing as a favor to the owner?”

* Update: Two readers tell me the crucial factor was probably Pat Bacich, who “presented” the concert. He was also involved with Montclair’s Green Door bar, where a lot of bands played, and his brother, Mike, was a keyboardist for Oingo Boingo. One thought Jane’s Addiction might also have performed at the Green Door.

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Pitha, pleath

A young woman who often works the counter at a pizza parlor I like has the most pronounced lisp I believe I’ve ever heard. I don’t want to identify the restaurant because I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings (it’s not San Biagio’s, though). Her speech is sort of fetching, actually, especially when she calls me “thir.” A part of me wants to order anchovies, sausage and mushrooms just to hear her repeat my order back to me.

SHE: Anchovieth, thauthage and muthroomth, thir?

ME: Yes, and a Pepthi. Er, Pepsi.

Any other suggestions what we might order?

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Restaurant of the Week: Ban Chow

CLOSED

Ban Chow, 9755 Arrow Route (at Archibald), Rancho Cucamonga

To kick off 2013′s Restaurants of the Week, here’s a hole-in-the-wall takeout place in Rancho Cucamonga that might be the only place in the Inland Valley to get Cambodian food. Ban Chow is a simple storefront in the same center as Jack in the Box, Nancy’s and Guido’s. It’s easy to find: It’s the only business without a sign.

Thanks to reader Andy for directing me here. The specialty is the ban chow, an egg crepe filled with onion, bean sprouts and a choice of meat. I got the sampler plate ($8.10) which has a ban chow, a meat skewer, rice, pickled papaya salad, an egg roll and a soda. I liked my ban chow (pork) and skewer (beef). Tasty, filling and a good deal for the money.

It’s takeout only because they have no customer restroom, although there is a small counter you can sit at. The staff said the only other Cambodian restaurants are in San Gabriel and Long Beach. The menu is short; if you get the combo plate, you’ve had pretty much everything they have. Based on photos on their Facebook page, they sometimes have baked goods, including macarons. (I didn’t see any on my visit.) Does any other place in the valley have fresh-baked macarons? If they do, it’s a safe bet they don’t have ban chow.

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