Author Archive: Allan Borgen

Allan Borgen is a member of the Southern California Restaurant Writers and International Food, Wine and Travel Association.

He can be heard every Saturday afternoon from 3 to 5 pm on the Let’s Dine Out Radio Show on KTIE 590am.

Email Allan at: allan@ktie590.com or call him at (909) 910-3463.

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San Biagio’s New York Pizza #1

| August 15, 2011 | 1 Comments

1263 W. 7th St,
Upland CA, 91786

Website: http://sanbiagios.com

Phone: 909-946-9277

Type of Food Served: Italian, Pizza

Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am to10pm

Price Range: Lunch $-$$ Dinner $-$$

As a food critic, I have a multitude of favorite foods that I never get tired of eating, and pizza is one such item, but only if the pizza is good. Having judged many California state and international pizza championships, I know what a good pizza is all about and as far as I am concerned, the pizza served at San Biagio’s is as good as New York style pizza can get.

The fresh hand stretched pizza dough is tasty, crisp and nicely holds up to the toppings. T The homemade sauce, creamy Wisconsin mozzarella cheese and toppings are in perfect harmony with each other. Whether you buy a slice of pizza or a whole pizza, just fold it in half and be prepared to taste pizza heaven.

Dining at San Biagio’s is like dining with family. Just ask the many loyal East coast customers that line up for lunch and dinner for their pizza, pasta and sandwiches. In addition to their thin crust pizzas, their Sicilian style (square) pizzas and their white pizza with fresh tomatoes, garlic and onions are also outstanding choices.

In addition to fantastic pizzas, the Calzones and Stromboli’s are also outstanding. The N.Y. Calzone $5.25 features meatballs, cheese and tomato sauce stuffed inside a large pastry dough. You can order any other ingredients you wish for an additional cost. The long stuffed Stromboli $5.25 consists of sausage, green peppers, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. It is then baked until crisp and the finished product is simply delicious.

Other delightful items on the menu that you can order include a variety of your favorite pasta specials that include a small salad and garlic bread. Choose from Baked Zitti, Spinach Tortellini, Cheese Manicotti and Linguini with Baby Clams plus many more dishes priced that are priced from $6.75 to $8.50. It should be noted that all of the pasta dishes are served in aluminum containers, but that is no big deal with me considering the quality of the food.

In addition to award winning pizza and pasta dishes, San Biagio’s also serves up some terrific sandwiches like the hot toasty Italian Sub $5.00 with ham, salami, capocollo, lettuce, tomato, mozzarella cheese and Italian dressing, a hot Meatball and Cheese Sandwich and a great Eggplant Parmesan Sub $5.50.

For dessert, I highly recommend the authentic Italian Ices served in those traditional small white paper cups and the phenomenal creamy rich cherry and chocolate laden Spumoni Ice Cream which will have you dreaming about it over and over again.

Open since 1988, Biagio Pavia and his family are responsible for creating a true family style neighborhood pizzeria that New York is famous for. The quality of the food is excellent, the ambiance is inviting, the service is friendly and the prices are fair. They only accept cash but they do have a handy ATM machine if you must get cash. I love San Biagio’s and look forward to seeing you there too.

Reservations: Required for parties of 10 or more

Average Dining Time: 1 hr or less

Open for: Lunch, Dinner

Waiter Service: Partial

Ambiance: Casual Dining, Family Dining

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Fratello’s Pizza & Pasta

| August 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

1667 N. Mountain Ave,
Upland CA, 91784

Website: http://www.fratellospizzapasta.com

Phone: (909) 981-0200

Type of Food Served: Pizza, Italian

Hours: Mon – Sat: 11am – 9pm, Closed Sundays

Price Range: Lunch $, Dinner $-$$

Rating: 3 out of 5

Fratello’s is a small family Italian restaurant that has been open for about 2 years and serves a variety of home style Italian pizzas, sandwiches and pasta dishes at prices that are reasonable and fair.

The interior is clean and inviting and although you order at a counter, the food is brought to your table by friendly staff. I started my dinner off with a small Antipasto salad $5.49 followed by two pizzas, the Buffalo Ranch Bird and the Meaty Sam.

The Antipasto Salad consisted of a bowl of romaine lettuce topped with a few slices of salami, capocollo, tomatoes, olives, peppercinis, red onion rings and mozzarella cheese. The salad was tasty and a good start although I would have liked to see more meat in the salad or at least cut it up to look like a larger portion. The Pizzas on the other hand were outstanding! The dough was light, airy baked thin and crispy, just the way I love it while the Buffalo Ranch Bird pizza was topped with crispy pieces of chicken dipped in Frank’s Red Hot sauce with pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and topped with ranch dressing while the Meaty Sam pizza was loaded with pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, bacon, mushroom and olives. Both were fantastic and well worth ordering if you love great pizzas! I wish I had one now!!!!!

Next came two pasta dishes, Baked Ziti with meat sauce and Fettuccine Alfredo. Both dishes were $7.29. The Baked Ziti was served in a round aluminum container and baked with a rich tomato meat sauce and lots of melted mozzarella cheese. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the dish was simple yet delicious. The Fettuccine Alfredo didn’t fair as well. The pasta was nicely cooked but the Alfredo sauce lacked flavor but was rich and creamy. The addition of more parmesan cheese that was on the table did help bring the sauce to where it should have been.

Fratello’s offers many sandwiches so I just had to try a few like the hot Meatball Sub $5.50 and the cold Italian Combo $5.99. The Meatball Sub featured homemade meatballs stuffed into a fresh chewy Italian roll and topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. The meatballs were flavorful as was the marinara sauce while the Italian Combo Sub featured salami, mortadella, capocollo, provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onions and Italian dressing. This sandwich was also very good.

For dessert, I loved their pizza crust so much; I just had to have a Calzone $7.49, pizza dough stuffed with mozzarella and ricotta cheese and your choice of 3 toppings and baked until golden brown and crispy. I choose the sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and spinach and loved it.

In addition to indoor dining, Fratello’s also has a heated outdoor dining area and various flat screen monitors around the dining areas so you can enjoy your favorite sporting event while munching on some great pizza and sipping a cool beer.

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Mona Lisa’s Italian

| August 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

1405 West Colton Ave,
Redlands CA, 92374

Website: http://www.theoriginalmonalisa.com

Phone: (909) 335-0818

Type of Food Served: Italian

Hours: Mon – Sat 11am – 9pm, Sun 12pm – 6pm

Price Range: Lunch $, Dinner $

Rating: 4 out of 5

Finding a restaurant that serves tasty fresh food at extremely reasonable prices can be a difficult task now a days but thanks to Ed Moursi, his vision of serving the quality pasta dishes, subs and salads at prices most everybody can afford has been a reality since he first opened up Mona Lisa restaurant some 24 years ago.

In addition to fabulous prices and ample portions, he only uses Halal meats, in other words, no pork products are served here. The Italian sausages and dry Italian salami are made from beef and instead of ham, he only uses turkey ham.

Great Italian dishes must have a tasty sauce, and both the marinara and meat sauces are very good. The marinara sauce is made with tomatoes, basil, garlic, oregano and olive oil. The sauce is light yet has a nice flavor to it. The meat sauce features lots of ground beef, tomatoes, carrots, celery, red wine, garlic, oregano and basil. This sauce is bold, assertive and, but there are two other sauces that “blew me away”. On Thursdays, their eggplant sauce is featured with spaghetti for $6.95 and the thick, eggplant laden tomato sauce was absolutely delicious. I wish he would serve it daily! The other sauce, Alfredo with Linguini, $6.95 is only served on Fridays and is the most incredibly rich, creamy, buttery Alfredo sauce I have had. Made with manufacturing cream, this sauce sticks to the linguini like no other Alfredo sauce I have ever experienced and is a big hit among his loyal fans that swarm the restaurant every Fridays to order it. If you are going on a diet soon, make sure you order this dish beforehand. Unfortunately for us, once the specials are gone, you have to wait until next week.

Now that you know a little about the terrific sauces, let’s move onto some of the items on the menu. From the sandwich side of the menu came the 10” Italian Sub $5.95, and the 6” Hot Meatball Sub $4.50. The Italian Sub consisted of a warm crusty Italian roll filled with salami, turkey ham, homemade Italian dressing with oregano, garlic, basil and wine, lettuce, tomatoes, provolone cheese and pickles. The amount of meats and cheese was quite good and the entire sandwich was delicious. The same could be said of the Hot Meatball Sub which featured some excellent sliced homemade meatballs, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. When ordering a sub or pasta dish, you can order the items with marinara or the meat sauce. You will love both of these sandwiches.

I like to judge Italian restaurants by the lasagna they make and the version Mona Lisa serves passed my test. Before I tell you about their Lasagna $6.50 and the baked Mostacciolli $5.95, I want to inform you that you can dine in their dining room or go to the drive thru and order your food in the comfort of your car. All of their items are made to order so you can count on the food being piping hot and fresh. Another important thing to know is that once you order and pay for the food at the front counter, the food comes to you in round aluminum pans, and plastic forks and knives. At first I wanted real plates and real metal forks however considering the low prices and high quality of food, I would rather have it served this way and save some money. The Lasagna featured two layers of lasagna pasta layered with a delicious ricotta and mozzarella seasoned mixture and lots of marinara or meat sauce. It was then topped with mozzarella cheese and baked until nice and bubbly. I really enjoyed the ample portions of the ricotta mozzarella cheese mixture and the pasta and the meat sauce made for a perfect marriage of taste and texture. Oh yes! You also get two pieces of warm toasty garlic bread with all of their pasta and salads. The Baked Mostacciolli consisted of a large portion of pasta with lots of sauce and mozzarella cheese. I can’t believe Ed charges only $5.95 for this considering how good and big the portion is.

The classic Eggplant Parmesan $6.95 and Antipasto Salad $5.60 rounded out my meal. Imagine lightly breaded and fried eggplant topped with your choice of marina or meat sauce, topped with lots of mozzarella cheese and baked until hot. The eggplant was not bitter like Italian eggplant can sometimes be and was a hit with my family as well as with me. The Antipasto Salad consisted of sliced provolone cheese, salami and turkey ham served on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes, a peppercini and your choice of dressings. I suggest the homemade Italian dressing!

Overall, I enjoyed Mona Lisa very much and feel that this is one restaurant that you can comfortably dine at more than once a week and when you see some of their daily specials, you will certainly agree with my thoughts.

Reservations: Not Required

Average Dining Time: 1 Hour or Less

Open for: Lunch, Dinner

Waiter Service: Partial

Ambiance: Family Dining, Outdoor Dining, Kid Friendly

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Taste of Asia

| August 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

2007 Foothill Blvd.
La Verne CA, 91750

Website: http://tasteofasialaverne.com

Phone:(909) 392-7777

Type of Food Served: Asian, Chinese, Thai

Hours: Mon:5pm – 9pm, Tues – Thurs: 11am – 9pm, Friday & Saturday: 11am – 10pm, Sun: Noon – 8pm

Price Range:Lunch $, Dinner $-$$

Rating: 5

The Taste of Asia restaurant is a unique Asian restaurant in that the menu features exciting dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, China and even from Laos and….Virada Khowong is a certified chef having completed many culinary programs in Thailand. It was great seeing her in a chef’s coat cooking her heart away in the kitchen.

This family run restaurant is located in a small retail center and can be difficult to find however once you have eaten Chef Virada’s food; you will be a regular like I am.

For starters, I recommend the Egg Flower Soup $4.95 and the homemade Laotian Sausage. I normally do not order Egg Flower Soup because it is usually boring and tasteless however the Egg Flower Soup served here is outstanding and is undoubtedly the best I have ever had! The richly flavored broth had a nice even balanced mixture of tofu, peas, green onion, cabbage and scrambled eggs. Who would think Egg Flower Soup could be so memorable. The Laotian Sausage featured lots of dense textured sliced sausage made with ground pork, lemon grass and other seasonings and served with peanuts, cabbage, chilies and fresh ginger on the side. Only after devouring the sausage, was I informed by the polite server that you are supposed to wrap the sausage in the cabbage with the peanuts, chili and ginger. Oh well, it was still great especially with the homemade chili paste that came with it.

Next came some sensational entrees from the Chef’s Recommendations section of the menu like the Spicy Garlic Shrimp$14.95, Taste of Asia Mussels $14.95, Crispy Beef $12.95 and Tropical Salmon $14.95. The Spicy Garlic Shrimp featured 10 partially shelled jumbo shrimp cooked in a wonderful garlic chili soy sauce topped with crispy fried basil. The sweet succulent shrimp and the boldly flavored sauce was a perfect marriage of flavors and textures. The Taste of Asia Mussels was a very impressive dish featuring steamed green lip mussels stuffed with an assorted seafood, herb, and chili mixture and topped with a Kaffir lime leaf and served on a bed of fresh basil with a coconut milk. The dish was very good and very creative. The Crispy Beef was another terrific dish. How can slices of crispy fried beef sautéed with a delicious sweet oyster, sugar, vinegar, wine, and sesame oil sauce not be good?. It kind of reminded me of Orange Peel Beef but much better! Another winning dish was the Tropical Salmon, grilled filet of salmon topped with a fresh mango, tomato, onion salsa served on a bed of fresh spinach. If you like salmon and mango, you will love this dish.

Other dishes that I have had on previous visits and enjoyed very much include the spicy Drunken Rice $9.95, made with regular or brown rice, the Pork Jerky $7.95 and the BBQ Pork with Sticky Rice $8.95.

In closing, the Taste of Asia restaurant is a nice change of pace for those of us who love Asian foods and certainly one of the best in the Inland Valley. Having such a talented owner chef in charge of the kitchen definitely a big plus!

Reservations: Large Parties Only

Average Dining Time: 1 hr or less

Open for: Lunch, Dinner

Waiter Service: Full

Ambiance: Casual Fine Dining, Kid Friendly

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Mill Creek Cattle Company #2

| August 15, 2011 | 3 Comments

2087 Orange Tree Lane,
Redlands CA, 92374

Website: http://www.millcreekcattlecompany.com

Phone: (909) 798-5757

Type of Food Served: American, BBQ

Hours: Open Daily 7am – 9pm, Mon and Tues: 10am-9pm

Price Range: Breakfast $, Lunch $, Dinner $-$$

Nestled in a small center just off the California St. exit on the 10 freeway in Redlands is a most satisfying BBQ restaurant called Mill Creek Cattle Company. Now many of you may be familiar with the larger more culinary diversified restaurant in Mentone by the same name however, this new and smaller restaurant offers many of the same terrific dishes along with the same large portions of food and very reasonable prices as their “Parent” restaurant does however, there are some major differences.

Mill Creek offers an outstanding array of breakfast items seven days a week that are both delicious and very reasonably priced. Their BBQ Smoke House Omelet $6.99 and the Cowboy Breakfast $3.99 are just a few of the many items I have ordered for breakfast and enjoyed. The BBQ Smoke House omelet consisted of a three egg omelet stuffed with grilled onions and bell peppers, cheddar jack cheese, and your choice of BBQ meats like tri tip, pulled pork or brisket. This creation was finished off with BBQ sauce, more cheese and more grilled onions. The plate is served with crispy Fried Cowboy Taters, fresh fruit, and a choice of coffee, orange juice or milk rounds out this most impressive plate of food. For those wanting a more traditional breakfast dish, why not try the Cowboy Breakfast featuring two eggs, two strips of bacon, two sausage links, two pancakes and two pieces of toast all for $3.99.

Other breakfast items I recommend include the Stuffed French Toast, the fantastic Huevos Rancheros and the spicy hot Chilaquiles and all of their breakfast burritos. Prices range in price from $2.99 to $4.99.

In addition to the breakfast menu, their lunch and dinner offerings are just as exciting and delicious. Choose from a variety of items like their massive and yummy BBQ Quesadilla $6.50, large flour tortilla stuffed with grilled onions, choice of BBQ meats, cheddar jack & pepper jack cheese, grilled onions and peppers, a great half pound Spicy Link Sandwich $4.95, 2 spicy links sliced in half and served on a freshly made bun topped with grilled onions and peppers, BBQ sauce and jack, cheddar and pepper jack cheese. Talk about one delicious, messy and satisfying sandwich!

Other items worth ordering is the 28oz. bowl of Homemade (all meat) Chili $5.95 made with New Mexico chilies served with a corn muffin and cheese, onion or beans on request, the juicy ½ lb. Brewster Burger $4.95, with all of the fixings, the eye popping “real deal” Turkey Sandwich $5.50, lots of sliced smoked turkey with avocado, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes & mayo served on their homemade bun. The turkey was moist, had a slight smoky flavor and the entire sandwich was sensational.

If you like BBQ Spareribs, their ½ Rack of St. Louis Pork Ribs will delight your taste buds. The 6 meaty ribs were tender, had a nice citrus wood smoke flavor to them and when paired up with their sweet and smoky BBQ sauce, the ribs come alive. This plate is only $10.95 and comes with one large or two small side dishes. Choose from Cole slaw, potato salad, sweet potato or regular fries, beans, their 3 Cheese Potatoes, Chuck wagon Chili, Cornbread Muffin, Beer Battered Onion Rings, or a fresh corn on a cob. I liked the 3 Cheese Potatoes, Cole Slaw and Chili the best. Another item that deserves your attention include the Triple Treat BBQ Platter $9.95, a nice portions of sliced tri tip, brisket and pulled pork along with a choice of two sides. This was a fantastic value both in quality, portion size and low price.

Speaking of low prices, their special Pulled Pork Sandwich with Fries and a 16 oz soft drink is only $4.99 while the absolute best deal in the world is their “Bucket of Ribs” which is only $34.99 and features one full rack of spare ribs, one whole chicken, one quart of beans, one quart of potato salad 4 corn on the cobs and 4 corn muffins. This can easily feed 4 to 6 people and is only available for takeout only. If you have children, you must bring them along since children under12 eat free with each paid adult 7 days a week.

I have eaten at Mill Creek many times and each time I have come away both full, satisfied and with money in my wallet. This is one restaurant you “can’t afford” not to dine at!

Reservations: Not Required

Average Dining Time: 1 Hour or Less

Open for: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Waiter Service: Partial

Happy Hour: 2pm – 6pm

Discounts: Military Discount, Coupons

Ambiance: Family Dining, Kid Friendly, Outdoor Dining

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