Allen Pierleoni

Counter Culture: 10 places to feed a Dad-size hunger

Father’s Day is Sunday, but many dads like to treat it as a weekend-long celebration, beginning tonight right after work. Rightfully so, but their significant others may disagree, and that’s where gender differences can stop by for a visit. After all, some would claim it’s as simple as women loving shopping and men loving explosions, but not us.

Many women favor dressing to the nines for Mother’s Day, joining crowds of other mothers at Sunday brunch and sipping chardonnay. Guys don’t mind dressing to the ones and forking chili out of the cook pot while standing over the sink. Another beer, please.

In that spirit, we offer places Dad might enjoy if he’s got a hunger goin’ and prefers homey over haute. If he can’t make it on Sunday, then another time (call first for days and hours.) If he balks, let him eat quinoa.

In the interest of fairness, we’ve alphabetized this recommended list:

Dominick’s Italian Market & Deli, 8621 Auburn-Folsom Road, Granite Bay; (916) 786-3355, Wrap both hands around huge hero sandwiches stuffed with imported mortadella, prosciutto, Genoa salami, hot coppa, marinated and roasted veggies, cheeses, red and golden peppers, olives and more. Still hungry? Add pasta, sausages, salads, calzones and pizzas.

Koreana Plaza Market, 10971 Olson Drive, Rancho Cordova; (916) 853-8000, Plan on a two-hour tour of this 80,000-square-foot circus of variety and abundance, overflowing with 50,000 food items from 100 countries. The food court is a sidebar, but a good one: Choose from Russian-Ukrainian, Iranian, Mexican, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese dishes. Be sure Dad witnesses the seafood market and the tortilla-making machine.

El Mariachi Taqueria, 1240 Sunset Blvd., Rocklin; (916) 435-8491, Get past the outpost feel of the strip mall and into owner Lupe Manuela’s kitchen. Load up on carnitas, chile rellenos, shrimp soup, pozole, cerviche, octopus and tacos filled with cabeza (roasted meat from the cow’s head) and chicharrón (crisply cooked pork skin). The mole sauce on the enchiladas contains a dozen ingredients.

Roma Pizzeria II, 8491 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 383-9264, Two other family-owned Romas are at 5743 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento, (916) 421-1881; and 6530 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael, (916) 488-9800: Old-school Italian cooking lives in the pasta dishes, sausages and meatballs, and homey hand-tossed pizzas with chewy, yeasty crust. You can ask for any of the pastas to be baked in the oven and served in casseroles, a style that’s all but vanished. Penne with pesto basil is a good choice.

Roxie Deli, 3340 C St., Sacramento; (916) 443-5402, Expertly made sandwiches are heaped with premium meats, meatballs, marina, cheeses and condiments. Bonus: The oak-burning cast-iron smoker is loaded with tri-tip, pork shoulder, pork ribs and brisket, depending on the day of the week. Also: The meatloaf sandwich starts with loaves cooked in the smoker for 10 hours, sliced and served on ciabatta with melted cheddar and provolone cheeses, horseradish, mayo, tomato, onion and crisp jalapeño coins (daily).

Shady Lady Saloon, 1409 R St., Sacramento; (916) 231-9121, www. Esquire magazine included the dimly lit retro-looking retreat in its annual list of the top 25 bars in America, but don’t overlook its pub fare – po’ boy and French dip sandwiches, mac ’n’ cheese, charcuterie board, buttery bone marrow, and crisp duck tots (better than tater tots). The weekend brunch menu stars the beignet, the deep-fried New Orleans pastry that’s been the dietary ruin of many a poor boy.

Tori’s Place, 1525 Grand Ave., Del Paso Heights, Sacramento; (916) 646-6038, It may look like a shack painted vivid violet, but the sign out front says it: “Home cooking.” The tiny soul-food kitchen turns out spicy gumbo (chicken, sausage, shrimp, okra, bell peppers, onion and heat), four-star fried chicken and catfish, perfectly seasoned black-eyed peas and pinto beans, collard greens, and pancake-shaped, crisp-soft cornbread. Outside seating only.

T&R Taste of Texas, 3621 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 739-1669: Pitmaster Rodney Ray smokes hand-rubbed ribs, tri-tip, pork shoulder, chicken and hot links over hickory, mesquite, applewood and pecan, depending on what’s cooking. New on the menu is the Hillbilly Hero, coleslaw-covered pulled pork and tri-tip on a roll.

In honor of Father’s Day, Ray will serve fried pork ribs, a dish rarely seen in California. The taste is like a collision between fried chicken and a pork chop. Pour freely from the proprietary sauces.

Venita Rhea’s, 4415 Granite Drive, Rocklin; (916) 624-2697, Big breakfasts served all day are the specialty of this neighborhood landmark. Start by sharing the cinnamon roll French toast, dipped in batter and fried, then garnished with a mound of whipped cream and a landslide of fresh fruit.

Move to the huge but tender grilled bone-in ham steak, then maybe to an omelet stuffed with avocado, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, olives, squash and tomato. Then dial 911.

The Wienery, 715 56th St., Sacramento; (916) 455-0497; You’re lucky to find an empty table or vacant counter stool at lunchtime, but standing around watching the action can be entertaining. Worth the wait are the beer-steamed hot dogs, homemade soups, chili and root beer in frozen mugs.