Frank Miller, owner and chef of Ventura's new Cutting Edge Pizza Factory, says there is little difference between the food at his place and that of some of the finer dining establishments in California.
Except, that is, for the plates.
"What we are doing here is extremely fresh, exciting food that you might find at Spago or Granita, some of the more happening Los Angeles and San Francisco restaurants," Miller said. "We have very upscale food, with explosive dramatic flavors, but you buy it on a paper plate.
"We don't have a bunch of waiters and waitresses milling around. We don't have thousands of dollars of dining decor."
What Cutting Edge does have is a selection of gourmet pizza, pasta dishes and sandwiches, served al fresco in the courtyard at the Livery in downtown Ventura.
"If we serve it, we make it ourselves, from the sauces to the doughs. In our tiramisu, we make our lady fingers fresh," said Miller, who has run his own Connoisseur Catering in Santa Barbara for about 22 years. "In the next couple of months we are looking to make our own pasta."
In addition to catering, Miller has manufactured foods for Trader Joe's and has spent time at country clubs, hotels and restaurants throughout Santa Barbara. The Cutting Edge, he said, is a culmination of his experiences.
"It really is California cuisine, with fresh, multiethnic foods," Miller said. "The pizzas are ethnically diverse, coming together in really exciting flavor combinations, like a roasted garlic, roasted chicken jalapeno and sweet potato pizza. Really radical flavors."
The Pizza Factory menu includes nine gourmet pizzas ranging from $5.95 to $8.95.
Among them are the Fiesta Nacho (cheddar and jack cheese with black beans, salsa, lime chicken, sour cream and guacamole), Vegetariana (mozzarella, grilled eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini and roasted peppers), Mediterranean (basil pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, Greek olives, mushrooms, eggplant, artichokes and feta) and Thai or barbecue chicken.
For sandwiches, the restaurant offers a vegetarian selection with grilled eggplant, sweet tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil and roasted garlic mayonnaise ($5.25) and a chicken panini with grilled chicken breast, grilled vegetables, mozzarella, lettuce and garlic mayonnaise ($6.25).
Pasta dishes include a vegetarian fusilli with spinach, roasted eggplant, garlic and mushrooms in a light tomato sauce ($6.75) and tubes in either a light tomato sauce with basil and garlic or a spicy sauce ($5.95). There are four salads ranging from $3.75 to $6.95. Salads and pastas are served with a sizable serving of flat bread. For dessert, the tiramisu is $4.50.
The restaurant is at 34 N. Palm St.
For those who like cookbooks and autographs, this could be your week.
Andy Lo Russo, author of the "Sing and Cook Italian" cookbook, will prepare traditional Italian cuisine today at the Bristol Farms store at the Promenade at Westlake, Westlake at Thousand Oaks boulevards. Lo Russo will be on hand from noon to 3 p.m.
Faye Levy, author of the "International Jewish Cookbook," will follow Lo Russo to Bristol Farms for her own book signing Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. And on Sunday, Linda Wexler, author of "A Spot of Tea," a guide to tea houses on the West Coast, will sign copies of her book from noon to 3 p.m.
At the Promenade's Barnes & Noble bookstore, Evelyn Gold will discuss her kosher cookbook, "You Made My Day," at 11 a.m. Sunday. The touring Canadian author will bring samples to taste.
More than 90 local representatives of the Pampered Chef, a multilevel marketing company based in Illinois, are holding cookware parties and selling merchandise to raise money for Food Share Inc., the Ventura County food bank. Customers may participate through the Round-Up-From-the Heart program, which runs through Dec. 31.
Last year, the county's Pampered Chef sales crew raised about $1,200 for the organization, every dollar of which results in $35 of food distributed to needy families in the community.
For more information and to locate the Pampered Chef in your area, call (800) 266-5562.