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New Bistro Promises Authentic Italian Pizza

Tom Petrucci has taken over Mario's at the Shopping at the Rose center. The menu includes antipasti and a variety of entrees.


Tom Petrucci, owner of Petrucci's Ristorante Italiano in Camarillo, has purchased Mario's Bistro at Oxnard's Shopping at the Rose center.

The newly opened restaurant, Petrucci's Bistro, features continental cuisine and what its owner calls authentic Italian pizza.

"My wife and I have been traveling to Italy for a number of years and we have mastered the art of cooking in a wood-fired oven," Petrucci said. "We were trained by a pizza chef in Italy on how to work out the dough, the toppings and the cooking time."

Petrucci and his wife, Eugenia Petrucci, have passed on these techniques to the bistro's chef, Neal Rosenthal. In recent years Rosenthal has been chef at Mario's Bistro, restaurant manager at Wheeler Hot Springs in Ojai and managing partner and executive chef of the now-closed Eatz in Westlake.

The menu at the new Petrucci's features standard and gourmet pizzas. Toppings include quail, goat cheese, Italian sausage, prosciutto, duck, fennel and grilled eggplant.

There is also a selection of antipasti, including roasted garlic with tomato-goat cheese fondue and toasted Italian bread; pasta dishes; salads; and continental entrees.

Included in the extensive entree list are tortellini with salmon, vodka and caviar in a pink sauce; fresh salmon poached in champagne and topped with cream caper sauce; turkey medallions served with porcini and cremini mushrooms in a Marsala wine sauce; and leg of lamb with whole-grain mustard sauce and grilled polenta.

To wash down the food, Petrucci's offers 85 varietal wines. The restaurant is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

As for Mario Comandatore, former owner of Mario's Bistro and Mario's Ristorante in Oxnard, he said he's looking to open a restaurant in Thousand Oaks or Westlake.

"I'd like to open a place somewhere in about a month or a month and a half," he said. "It would be something between a bistro and what Mario's was. It would be causal dining." Comandatore sold Mario's Ristorante last year.


Brent Reichard, owner of Hamburger Habit in Goleta since 1980, opened a Ventura version last week at 487 E. Thompson Blvd., the site occupied for a short time by Buster's.

"I really like the building and the location," said Reichard, who operates the two Habits as well as Spike's Restaurant & Tavern in Goleta with his brother Bruce Reichard.

"I saw it when it was Buster's, and I said to myself that if it ever became available I'd look into it," Brent Reichard said.

It did. He did. And now the place is home to Charburgers, steak sandwiches, tuna melts, grilled cheese sandwiches, salads, hot dogs and the like--most priced less than $3.

"We really pride ourselves on the quality and affordable prices. And we use cholesterol-free vegetable oil," Reichard said.

Reichard, 35, purchased the original Hamburger Habit when he was 19. The Goleta establishment has been around since 1969. The Ventura restaurant is open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, but Reichard said that may change, depending on demand.


Celebrity chef and author Lora Brody, dubbed by foodies as "Queen of the Bread Machine," will lead cooking demonstrations over the next couple of weeks at Amestoy House Cooking School in Ojai and Let's Get Cookin' in Westlake Village.

Classes will be held Tuesday at Let's Get Cookin' and May 18 at Amestoy House.

At the Westlake Village school, Brody, the author of 14 cookbooks, will prepare a tri-color Italian braid, a Royal Crown brioche, a praline almond twist and sourdough sticks. Cost is $55 and space is limited. Class time is 6:30 p.m. Call (818) 991-3940 for reservations. Let's Get Cookin' is at 4643 Lakeview Canyon Road.

In a class called "Miracles From Your Bread Machine" at Amestoy House, Brody will create salsa pizza, pinon hot cakes, parchment bread, hummus bread and pesto bread. Cost is $50. Class time is 1 p.m. Call 646-7970 to reserve a spot. Amestoy House is at 8950 Highway 150.


Larry Forgione, winner of the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef of the Year Award in 1993, will follow Brody to Let's Get Cookin' with a class at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The proponent of new American cuisine will share and prepare recipes from his new cookbook, "An American Place." Cost is $65.

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