2466 E Chapman Ave
Fullerton, CA 92831
Before graduating from Cal State Fullerton, my team from the Newport Beach Film Festival and I enjoyed one last meal together at Pho Olivia. It was, what would turn out to be an all night meeting to finish our final business plan and we needed fuel to get us through the night.
We had already been working for over 4 hours and we were ready for some dinner. Pho Olivia was close, cheap, and compared to our other options, relatively nutritious. The food was amazing, the service was awesome, and overall it was a nice break from our work.
Our meal consisted of rare steak pho, fried rice, egg rolls, and a variety of drinks. We had thai ice tea, strawberry lemonade, and a lemon soda. Everyone was happy with everything.
The pho was hot, flavorful, and had lots of meat. The thai ice tea, as I have said before is not my favorite drink, but their’s was nice, not too sweet. The strawberry lemonade was a perfect combination of sweet and sour. Although I didn’t get to try the lemon soda, my team lead described it as delicious.
The layout of Pho Olivia is very open, makes for a nice place for large groups to meet up. The service was awesome, they were very attentive and quick. Overall it was a very nice experience and I cannot wait to go back.
416 E Foothill Blvd
San Dimas, CA91773
Hours: 7am – 10pm 7 days a week
**Warning- not the best place to eat if in a rush, but worth a little wait**
It has been a rough couple of weeks and yesterday felt like one of the longest days of my life, but Kosmos saved the day. After spending a good six hours yesterday running all around between Downtown LA and Long Beach I found myself in San Dimas, yes that is a big jump, but I was picking up my car from a family friend’s house in the area. It was 3 o’clock and I had yet to eat for the day so I decided I would treat myself to an old favorite Kosmos.
My brother introduced me to Kosmos years ago. He lived just down the street from it and this greasy spoon holds some special memories for me. I have so many memories of eating their chicken strip combo in front of my brother’s brick fireplace in his living room. In high school I liked to run away from my problems by escaping to my brother’s house and I could almost guarantee that on the rough nights we would be making a stop at Kosmos drive thru.
I have tried multiple items from their menu over the years. Their cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, burritos, everything is pretty good and pretty similar to other burger joints, like Colima Burger or Chris’s. My go to however has always been their chicken strip combo. Under $6.50 and you get three hot and juicy chicken strips on top of crispy french fries and a soda. Hits the spot every time and there really is no better pick me up.
Yesterday I ordered my usual, and went to wait for my order. As I warned this is not a great place to go if you are in any kind of rush, because service is always super slow. The drive thru can easily take 5-10 minutes and if you are dining in it’s even longer. The staff is always wonderful, however. Yesterday they ended up taking about 20 minutes or so to deliver me my food. I’m used to the wait and as I was on the phone too for most of the wait time so I really didn’t notice. Despite my lack of concern, when they did finally bring me my food the employee was super apologetic and offered me any free dessert I would like. As it had been a really rough day I accepted.I received a free small banana shake and it was amazing. Made with real bananas it was not too sweet and was super creamy. On a hot socal summer day it really hit the spot.
Although it was a small gesture, as bad as my day and week had been, this small offer completely turned my day around. I felt re-enthused and not so burnt out. Little things like this, along with all the memories are what keep me coming back.
2682 E Garvey Ave S
West Covina, CA91791
Sunday – Thursday 2pm-9pm / Friday & Saturday 2pm-11pm
I love gelato, but up until a few weeks ago I would have to wait every year for county fair time to roll around to satisfy my craving. Thanks to Gelatissimo, never again shall I have to go months desiring that perfect sweet treat which is gelato.
Gelatissimo has been on my need to try list for months and I am so happy I finally got to give them a shot. The shop is so cute. Hidden away in a pretty active strip mall, this could easily be a missed gem to those that do not know to look for it.
They have a nice variety of flavors from fruity to sweet and a few unique combos. Pineapple, vanilla, pistachio, tres leche, tiramisu, and peanut butter & jelly are just a sample of the flavors they may have on any given night. There were several of us the night we went and we all got different flavors and sampled even more and we all loved everything we tasted.
Gelatissimo sells more than just gelato, they also serve up a variety of pastries, which I did not get to try, but they looked amazing and I look forward to returning to give them a try.
Some reviews and comments I have read about this piece of Italy in West Covina say that they are over priced, but compared to other shops I think the price is reasonable. Plus they are willing to mix flavors which most are not, at least not without an additional cost.
Gelatissimo is a definite must try, especially during this hot summer months. So next time you are in the area and looking for a way to cool down try a scoop of gelato instead of your usual ice cream or stop in for a cannoli to satisfy your sweet tooth.
101 N Harbor Blvd
Sun – Thurs 8am-9pm / Fri and Sat 8am-10pm
**Also Located in Irvine**
As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the opportunity to spend the last year working on the Newport Beach Film Festival with an amazing team. This opportunity was presented to me through a class at CSUF. For our last team meeting we decided to meet at this adorable bakery, just down the street from campus.
Layer Cake Bakery is amazing, and a little overwhelming for someone whom enjoys pastries the way I do. One side of the “cafe” (it is a relatively large space) is a display of cakes, cookies, pies, cupcakes, specialty pastries, macarons, and so much more. On top of the pastries they also serve ice cream, specialty coffees and teas/fruit drinks, a variety of breakfast items, and lunch dishes, such as salads and sandwiches.
On this trip there my team and I only indulged in their sweet treats, as well as some coffee and a hibiscus drink. Our team captain ordered an ice coffee and macarons, our assistant team lead ordered an ice coffee as well and a banana cream pie, while I got a hibiscus drink and an eclair.
My eclair was amazing! Nice size, good texture, the cream was not too sweet at all and the dark chocolate added just the right amount a bitter sweetness. Our assistant team lead’s banana cream pie was perfect. Not too sweet, fresh bananas inside, and a good crust. The cream added a good amount of sweetness and, as with my eclair, the dark chocolate was a good touch.
I did not have the chance to try the macarons or iced coffee, but both received very good reviews from my teammates. The only disappointment from the visit was my hibiscus drink. I do not remember it’s complete name, but I just felt it was much too sweet. Besides that I really enjoyed my visit.
Layer Cake was a wonderful experience and I look forward to returning to try some of their breakfast and lunch items. With free wi-fi and lots of space this is a great homework/study space for students looking for an alternative to Starbucks. If you are ever in the area this is a must try.
353 N Pass Ave
7am – 4pm 7 Days a Week
May is Melanoma Awareness Month and to kick off the month of May one of my best friends and I decided to take part in the Universal Studios 5K Walk. Afterwards we were starving so we went in search of some breakfast and stumbled across Bea Bea’s.
Bea Bea’s is a breakfast paradise and you could eat breakfast here for weeks and never repeat a dish. It was amazing and as starving as we were it was so difficult to make a decision. They have a huge selection of waffles, pancakes, french toast, crepes, and omelets. They even have a lunch menu.
My friend ended up ordering their Mama Bea Omelet with hashbrowns. The omelet comes with veggie sausage, spinach, garlic, jalapeños, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and tomatillo sauce. It was huge and smelled so good.
I ended up ordering their Pooh’s Sunrise which comes with two eggs, sausage or bacon and your choice of waffle, pancake, crepe, or french toast. I went with french toast. The eggs were cooked perfectly, I loved the sausage, and the french toast was so super thick.
Bea Bea’s was a huge hit for me and I only wish they were closer to me so I could try some of their stranger creations – green tea pancakes anyone? If you ever find yourself in Burbank, and can spare a little wait time (lines can get long) you must stop in and get yourself some Bea Bea’s.
Serving Orange County
I love desserts, I adore pastries, and I was amazed by the cream puffs at the Bakery Truck! This was the second truck I had the opportunity to try on campus at CSUF (see last weeks post on The Viking Truck).
The menu was limited to only cream puffs, normally they serve a variety of sweet treats. My friend ordered their strawberry banana cream puff and I ordered their raspberry. It was honestly one of the best cream puffs I have ever had!
Different than the usual cream puff, instead of only using one type of cream, the Bakery Truck uses regular cream and Bavarian cream which blends together for the perfect balance of sweetness and a nice variety of texture. The fruit, the raspberries especially, added a nice tart bite to break up the sweetness. The cream puff shell was perfect, light and airy.
This is a must try and in fact I am following this truck, just waiting for them to get close enough to me so I can swoop in for another decadent treat.
Serving Orange County
The circumstances under which I got to try The Viking Truck were sort of unusual, so my menu choices were limited. Towards the end of my final semester CSUF they held an event which offered three different food trucks (keep an eye out for my review of the other two trucks), with a limited menu choice for free. It was a food blogger’s dream, so I dove in.
At The Viking Truck I tried their plain all beef hot dog served in their pretzel bun with fries. I love hot dogs, but I am very picky about them. I LOVED their hot dog! It was large, juicy, and had a nice snap. Although really large, the bun was not overwhelming, and was hot and fluffy. The fries were really nice as well.
Although a simple meal to try, The Viking Truck was a win for me and I have high hopes for all their other hot dog/sausage items on their menu.
I have a background in journalism. While attending my junior college, I wrote for the paper and ended up working as their feature editor my last semester before transferring to CSUF. This last semester at Fullerton I decided to tread back into journalism, at least a little, by taking a features writing class. For my final I decided to write on Pompeii’s Pizza Parlor. Although I have already done a write up on this community gem, I decided to share my article with you. It offers, much more history on this place than my past posts.
It’s tucked away in a strip mall long forgotten by time. With uneven payment and cracked cement, time has not been kind to the establishments on the corner of Maple Grove and Valinda in West Covina, Calif. Squeezed into a tight corner you find the city’s hidden gem, Pompeii’s Pizza Parlor.
Small in appearance from the outside, one step into Pompeii’s and it opens up before you. One nook of the restaurant, solely dedicated to take outs, offers a nice view of the always bustling kitchen. Through a small doorway, on your right, the restaurant expands into freshly painted room with classic and clean red and black booths. The walls are lined with murals, huge paintings of the ancient city of Pompeii.
Your ears will be filled with happy chatter and your nose will be overwhelmed with warm scents of cheesy pizza, garlic, and pasta sauces.
Pompeii’s opened their doors in 1960 by the Dimopoulos family.
“I remember having a lot of fun that night,” John Garside describes his first memory at Pompeii’s. “It was very dimly lit back then, so between the dim lighting and the amazing murals on the walls, for a kid who was probably 3 or 4, it almost felt like I was at Disney land.” Garside began going to Pompeii’s as a toddler in the mid 70’s.
Nikkitas Dimopoulos, or Mr. Dimopoulos as he is referred to today, began his career in pizza at Scardino’s, a literal hole in the wall, still open and popular today in the city of La Puente, just a few blocks away from where Pompeiis is located.
Scardino’s to this day is still a tiny operation, serving only take out, with room for no more than three people to stand inside their establishment while they wait for their pizza. Every night though, they still have a line out the door. This is where Mr. Dimopoulos learned to make pizzas and other Italian dishes people would demand.
Mr. Dimopoulos left Scardino’s and began his own establishment. Pompeii’s, modeled very similarly to Scardino’s, originally began as just a takeout restaurant, in the take out nook that still exists today. As the take out became successful Mr. Dimopoulos expanded the restaurant adding the dining area and a small banquet hall.
When Mr. Dimopoulos died the restaurant transferred over to his son, who people today simply refer to as Johnny. Johnny continued his father’s legacy and the restaurant continued to grow in popularity, until mid-2012 when Johnny decided to sell his family’s restaurant.
“I felt like a part of me was gone. I know that sounds dramatic, but I have been going there my entire life,” Garside describes his reaction to Pompeii’s closing its doors.
The neighborhood did not take too well to that and in the span of five months the location went through two owners. Both failed. The customers wanted Pompeii’s.
Johnny first sold to The Pizza Company which has a fairly successful restaurant in Hacienda Heights, just a few towns over.
They couldn’t make it in Pompeii’s location so they sold to Dominic’s, another established pizza brand, which also failed to find acceptance in the neighborhood.
“Customer’s wanted Pompeii’s,” says Raquel Barbiere. Barbiere runs Pompeii’s social media pages as well as helps out on the weekends.
After running through two owners in less than half a year, the building stayed empty for a few months and that meant trouble for the neighborhood. Barbiere said Pompeii’s brought life to the neighborhood and the surrounding area, and with it gone and the space empty vandalism and theft in the strip mall began to rise.
The owner of the building needed something back in Pompeii’s spot and approached Johnny to re-open. Johnny simply couldn’t handle the demanding work of running a restaurant and turned down the offer, but extended the offer to now owner Mike Bango. Along with the offer to buy Pompeii’s came the rights to the name as well as all the family recipes that the neighborhood had grown to love.
“I was born and raised in the city of Valinda and when offered the chance to re-open Pompeii Pizza, I couldn’t resist,” Bango says on Pompeii’s website. “I love the restaurant as much as all my dedicated customers.”
Bango has 20 years of work experience at Pompeii’s under his belt. Beginning when he was only 16, Bango began as a dishwasher and worked his way up. He even had the opportunity to work under Mr. Dimopoulos himself. Mr. Dimopoulos taught him how to prepare the amazing pizza and pastas Pompeii’s is known for.
When Johnny took over he taught Bango the business side of things. Bango learned how to balance a quality product with the financial side of things.
Today Bango is combining everything he learned from the Dimopoulos family and working to keep that which is Pompeii’s alive.
Running Pompeii’s is truly a family effort. New to the restaurant business, Bango has pulled help from all corners of his family. Barbiere’s sister runs the cash register, while nephews and cousins work the kitchen and the floor. Bango also does a lot of work himself.
For the young people working at Pompeii’s, family or not, the establishment looks out for them. With hours accommodating to high school and college students, all young employees are encouraged to attend school.
Since the re-opening the overall response from the public has been good. Barbiere says that re-opening Pompeii’s was like bringing something classic back, and because of that, they have gotten a lot of support from people and the overall community.
She says that Pompeii’s is a piece of many of their customers’ childhoods and people who have moved out of the area will re-route their trips and detour when they come through Southern California to simply stop at Pompeii’s.
When Pompeii’s first opened in the ‘60s a lot of its traffic and customer base came from the surrounding high schools, Workman and La Puente High School. Many of those alumni still frequent Pompeii’s.
Kelly Orr is one of those alumni who began going to Pomepeii’s in the ‘60s. He says his first impression of the restaurant was how good the pizza was.
Kelly’s wife, Sylvia Orr, didn’t begin going to Pompeii’s until the late ‘70s, but said she was initially attracted to the strange interior, the murals that are still on the walls today.
Both Kelly and Sylvia Orr were hesitant when Pompeii’s reopened, they said they were nervous that it would not be the same as before. They were pleasantly surprised that it had not changed a bit.
“Although we both really don’t eat much pizza anymore, it is still our go to place when family and friends come over,” Kelly said.
1425 Valinda Ave
West Covina, CA 91744
Pompeii’s official website – http://www.pompeiipizzaparlor.com/