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Restaurants & Bars 3

Hidden "Brick" - Angelo's Restaurant in Vallejo (Long)

JojoA | Mar 8, 200610:52 PM

Hiddenbrooke, a community built around its Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, is technically within Vallejo city limits. In reality, however, this area of Vallejo is in its own little world, as the only way in and out of there is the Hiddenbrooke Parkway (reached via the American Canyon Road exit off of I-80.)

Outside of the golf course, this community had no retail establishments within its boundaries until recently, when the Nino family (best known around Vallejo for their import auto dealership) bought and built Hiddenbrooke Plaza, wherein Angelo’s is the main anchor.

The interior is nice - earthen-tone walls punctuated by abstract artwork, low-hanging lamps over every table, and large glass windows that let in a lot of sun and give you an expansive outside view (there’s really not much to see except the houses and hills, though.) The kitchen area is open, and there’s also a outdoor patio area, which I imagine will be used plenty when milder days and nights roll around.

The centerpiece of the kitchen is the wood-burning brick oven imported from Italy, colorfully coated on the exterior with tile (don’t know of any other place in the immediate area that has a brick oven off-hand.) Pizzas, piadinas (open-faced sandwiches with a thick flatbread), and bread are baked here daily.

The wide swath of the menu (Mediterranean, Italian and crepes) reflects the owner’s background (according to a Times-Herald article, his great grandparents were Italian, his father was Israeli Arab, and his mother was Lebanese.)

Of course, I had to try the pizza, so I ordered a small “Mama’s Mediterranean” ($10.95 for a 12"; zaatar, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and feta cheese.) I liked the crust’s texture - thin, nicely charred and crispy but not overdone - and the pizza overall was good, but it’s not something I would rank as a personal favorite. A few other set pizza combos exist, including an interesting-looking Tony’s Egg Pizza (whipped locally-grown eggs, kalamatta olives, and mozzarella cheese); a build-your-own pizza option is also available.

The piadina I ordered (Eliana’s Grilled Chicken; $8.95) suffered from subtlety. There was nothing wrong with the ingredients (marinated chicken breast, green cabbage and jicama slaw, sliced tomatoes), but nothing in there made it stand out tastewise. You’re probably better off with choices that promise more flavor like the Angus Burger (natural Meyers Angus with Vermont white cheddar cheese) or the Philly-style Steak (marinated tri-tip cooked rare, grilled onions & mushrooms, provolone, and horseradish cream) piadinas.

The sides I tried (thick-cut fries, caesar salad, bread (if it was freshly baked, it had been baked a couple hours prior) were average at best. However, portions didn't seem skimpy for the prices, especially when it came to the piadinas. Beer and wine are also available.

I do have a small complaint with the taste of the bread, piadinas and pizza crust - on their own, they’re not the tastiest versions I’ve had. I hope the recipes get tweaked down the road as they get settled in (Angelo’s has only been open for two months.)

Angelo’s does put an emphasis on service. The staff is nattily dressed, someone is stationed at the door to greet you, and they do check up on you to make sure things have been handled.

Angelo’s seems to be quite conducive for having a long, casual lunch or dinner with a companion or large group, and the restaurant staff seems all too happy to accommodate this. I noticed several large groups of family and friends “hanging out” the entire time during my visits.

I do think overall Angelo’s has promise. Vallejo has had a small influx of places (Club 324, Fratello’s, and the soon to be completed India Garden Restaurant (I saw the new signs being installed literally today)) recently that at least hint of something more upscale in this generally "blue-collar" food town. For now, I’d definitely order a pizza-to-go from here if the mood hits, and I’d like to come back to try some of the other interesting-sounding items such as the free-range chicken and the other piadinas down the road.

Angelo’s Restaurant
8308 Bennington Ct
(just to the right of the info booth/entrance)

Link: http://www.myangelos.com

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