Allen Pierleoni / apierleoni@sacbee.com

A pizza topped with fresh mussels, clams, Roma tomatoes and arugula at Cafe Vinoteca.

Counter Culture: Keep the dining casual for Father's Day

Published: Thursday, Jun. 13, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 34TICKET
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013 - 8:28 am

Men regard Father's Day much differently than women view Mother's Day. After all, men love explosions, women love shoes.

Moms enjoy the ritual of dressing up and going to a fancy restaurant for brunch. Dads are happy to eat a wet Dagwood sandwich over the sink, chased by an icy brew.

In the spirit of Father's Day casual, we offer this sampling of recommended restaurants where a hungry Dad will feel at home in jeans and a polo shirt while he stares down mounds of food. If he can't make it out this Father's Day weekend, perhaps another time (call for days and hours). If he's not game to go, fine – let him eat that can of tuna and box of stale saltines in the cupboard.

In the interest of fairness, we've alphabetized:

Cafe Rolle, 5357 H St., Sacramento; (916) 455-9140; www.caferolle.com: The small bistro-deli tends to be overshadowed by its neighboring competitors, and that's a shame. Rolle turns out exquisite fish (house-smoked salmon, gravlax, marinated prawns), pâtés, quiche, salade nicoise and expertly assembled sandwiches – lamb, roast beef, ham, Brie, croque monsieur. Note to manly men: It was featured on Guy Fieri's Food Network show, "Diners, Drive-In's and Dives."


Cafe Vinoteca, 3535 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento, in the Arden Town Center; (916) 487-1331; www.cafevinoteca.com: The pasta and seafood are among the best in town, but add two more compelling reasons to eat there: The clam pizza starts with an olive oil-brushed thin-crust shell topped with slices of fresh Roma tomato, peppery arugula, sautéed fennel, garlic and red pepper flakes, and then finished with plump clams and mussels.

And: Timpano is a classic Italian dish of puff pastry and penne pasta, sliced ham, meatballs, grilled zucchini and eggplant, hard-cooked eggs, and marinara and bechamel sauces. Served by the slice only at dinner the last Thursday of each month.


Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, 6628 Lone Tree Blvd., Rocklin; (916) 780-7427; www.lucillesbbq.com: Yeah, it's a chain, but the Southern-accented concept is cool – Ball canning jars filled with sweet tea, cornbread, fluffy biscuits with apple butter, down-home blues over the sound system. And a bonus: The huge vented smoker is in the dining room.

Choose from sautéed shrimp, fried chicken, gumbo, jambalaya, smoked brisket, pork and beef ribs, tri-tip, hot links and chicken. Taste the trio of terrific barbecue sauces.


Opa! Opa!, 5644 J St., Sacramento; (916) 451-4000; www.eatatopa.com: The cuisine is Greek and the service is fast at this little cafe with a big heart. Scoop up creamy hummus with wedges of grilled pita bread, followed by avgolemono soup (egg-lemon-broth). Add crunchy falafel, lamb, chicken, salmon and grilled vegetables. Top it off with baklava from the next-door Sweetie's bakery.


Roseville Gourmet, 107 S. Harding Blvd., Roseville; (916) 784-8008: For 25 years, the family-run Chinese restaurant has offered authentic, MSG-free, well-sauced dishes made with fresh ingredients. Roasted duck, cold skin-on chicken, rounds of eggplant covered in scallops and shrimp, salt-and-pepper prawns and calamari, lemon chicken, orange peel-seasoned pork wontons – take your pick.


Ruchi Indian Cuisine, 601 E. Bidwell St., Folsom; (916) 983-2871; www.indianruchi.com: Rule No. 1: Add the array of deeply flavored sauces to everything – hot chili pakoras (poppers), chicken tikka masala, lamb vindaloo, ginger shrimp, pan-fried spinach and garlic with basmati rice, and naan (bread). Rule No. 2: Experiment.


Ryu Jin Ramen House, 1831 S St., Sacramento; (916) 341-0488; www.ryujinramen.com: Dad can slurp his way to contentment with al-dente ramen in steaming pork-based stock. Shiro ongotsu brims with noodles, slices of succulent pork, steamed cabbage, black mushroom, red ginger, green onion and a seasoned whole egg. Aka tongotsu is the fiery version, with red broth.

Add fried cakes of octopus and cabbage, and plates of fried oysters, dumplings and deep-fried chicken wings.


Sampino's Towne Foods, 1607 F St., Sacramento; (916) 441-2372; www.sampinos.com: It's always tempting to get one of each from the display case: house-made Calabrese sausage, pastas, meatballs, lasagna, chicken Parmesan, roast beef and pork. Sandwiches are stacked with pastrami, steak, tri-tip, turkey, mortadella, copa, salami and more.

Not enough? Sampino's hosts three-hour, eight-course dinners at 6 p.m. Fridays ($30-40).


Scott's Burger Shack, 4127 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 451-4415: The star of the surprisingly varied menu is the Triple Fatboy, a 1 1/2-pound burger loaded with tomato, onion, bacon, lettuce and cheese. Add pastrami, mushrooms and a sauté of jalapeño and onion. Sit beneath an umbrella at a blue picnic table in the parking lot. Don't forget the onion rings and peanut butter milkshake.


36 Handles, in the Montano Center, 1010 White Rock Road, El Dorado Hills; (916) 941-3606; www.36handles.com: The 32 beers and four wines on tap are good starters at the handsomely decorated Irish-themed pub. Sip a pint of Guinness with mussels and fries, jalapeño-bacon mac 'n' cheese, calamari, shepherd's pie, corned beef, chicken-pesto sandwich, salads and bangers 'n' mash. Haddock, cod and salmon are served either battered and deep-fried or buttermilk-dipped, rolled in panko, pan-fried and splashed with stone-ground mustard beurre blanc (butter-wine sauce).


The Wienery, 715 56th St., Sacramento; (916) 455-0497; thewienerysacramento.com: You're lucky to find an empty table or vacant counter stool at this landmark. That's because the beer-steamed hot dogs, homemade soups and chili are tops. Don't pass up a frozen mug of foaming root beer.

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.

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