Tasteless Rabbit Food? Not a Chance in Health

If you belly up to the bar at Piccio's, you won't go home with a hangover, no matter how deeply you indulge.

For this is a juice bar, where the husband-and-wife team of Tony and Jaydeane Petz concoct one of the meanest fruit smoothies this side of a field of alfalfa sprouts. For $2.80, customers can have fruit juice blended with a choice of two fresh fruits and low-fat yogurt (add an egg for 50 cents extra) that makes for a refreshing pick-me-up, popular with locals and some of the bicyclists who regularly cruise by on those leg-aching rides from San Juan Capistrano to Camp Pendleton. Sharing equal billing on this portion of the menu are fresh-squeezed vegetable juices--carrot, tomato, spinach, celery, cucumber, beet and parsley--for $2.50.

But Piccio's is no slave to health food. Behind the juice bar is a tasty delicatessen, where sandwiches, meat or otherwise, are standard menu fare. Although the Petzes admittedly lean toward vegetarian dishes, they feature daily specialties such as chicken marinara, with an emphasis on hearty Italian cuisine that reflects their ethnic and East Coast roots. Other items include pasta platters and a variety of salads, especially a "mean green-bean salad."

And the Petzes don't discount the indulgences--Jaydeane bakes her own New York-style cheesecake.

Piccio's, pronounced peacho and named after a friend's son, is tucked inside the Pickers Ranch Market and situated across from Price Club at the south end of a huge parking lot in Price Club Center. Diners can either sit outside or in a small eating area decorated with a couple of white patio tables and chairs that are bordered on one side by the juice bar, with its brightly painted mural, and on the other by large windows flooded with sunlight.

It's a perfect place to rest in relative calm while others shop until they drop, and to enjoy healthy fare without sacrificing taste.

Piccio's Delicatessen, 33951 Doheny Park Road, Price Club Center, San Juan Capistrano. Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; till 6 p.m. Saturday and till 5 p.m. Sunday. (714) 489-1780

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