Tasty chicken parmigiana at the OG in Santee, CA!
I have been enjoying pizza at The Par Lounge/Oaks Grille for many years and this is probably the most stunning pizza I’ve had in Ramona! The OG is sporting a new pizza oven so I had to check things out, and I was not disappointed. Back in the day there were sometimes inconsistencies with top doneness, etc. The first thing I noticed last night was how well balanced the cheese and toppings are with the crust layer. It is not at all a layer of dough with an afterthought of extras but a perfectly homogenous blend of comfort food goodness. The cheese and toppings extend nearly to the edge and the bottom & top perfectly cooked without being overdone.
For pizza now they have two ovens, each with thick stone bottoms weighing about 300 lbs. The ovens use a variable heat system whereby you can adjust the heat alternately below the stone and above in the cooking chamber. This allows the chef to really fine tune the overall doneness of a pizza. I can tell you mine came out very evenly cooked. The ovens run at 500-550 degrees and have a large capacity. Cooking 5 or so pizzas at a time is no problem and they’re done in about 6 minutes. Last night was super busy at Par and our pizzas came out faster than I was expecting!
Shown here is the outstanding Blanco pizza. Made with a delicious garlic white sauce, fresh arugula, prosciutto, mozzarella and daubs of ricotta. The oral contrast of a slightly salty prosciutto with a somewhat sweet ricotta is just excellent. Further below is the Doppio pizza made with pepperoni, soppressata salami, Italian sausage, and peppadew peppers. This pie is stacked with a blend of savory pork along with peppadew that lends a subtle heat without being “in your face” hot. I highly recommend them both. Their pizza menu features a thoughtful selection of about 9 different original top-shelf pies. Small personal sizes average only around $8-9 each.
Outstanding pizza at Il Romanista in El Segundo! This place is legit Roman style pizza al taglio, or “pizza by the cut”. Pizzas are cooked on large rectangular baking sheets and sold by the slice. Il Romanista claims to be Los Angeles’ first Roman-style pizzeria and I couldn’t be happier that I’m in their neighborhood frequently.
I’ve eaten chicken parmigiana at many fine Italian restaurants throughout SoCal. Probably the best I’ve put in my mouth was at North Italia in El Segundo recently. Their pasta here is house made daily and it tastes like it! The dish here is paired with a nice rigatoni in a garlic cream sauce. Really nice balance to go with the red sauce chicken. I could eat this everyday!
There are some standout Italian restaurants just a short drive down the hill from Ramona! Nestled in San Diego’s east county town of Lakeside is Ottavio’s. This place has been an Italian food institution for generations. I had an outstanding order of chicken parmigiana. What really impressed me was their dinner salad and seafood chowder. Bread service here is unique and delicious as well with a nice focaccia style bread. Will be back soon for sure!