There is always a winner and a loser when you play a game but everybody was a winner when my entire softball team visited Caminiti's Restaurant in Burbank after our final game of the 2010 season.
The Burbank Dirtstars were defeated on the field but nobody can compete with us when it comes to eating, drinking and watching sports. That's why we chose Burbank's newest restaurant to test our dining skills.
To stretch our stomachs, we started with two orders of spicy chicken wings, mozzarella cheese sticks and a round of ice-cold beers. After another humiliating defeat on the diamond, nothing hits the spot like an ice-cold brew and Caminiti's has an expanding assortment of beers served in the coldest frosted glasses in the state. The wings were so perfect, we actually requested another large plate to satisfy everybody on the roster.
Caminiti's strength is their pizza, and my squad ordered three large pies. This is not your typical pizza delivery joint, and everything is custom-made with a nice light crust and plenty of toppings. The pepperoni was especially delicious and cooked to perfection. The only error by the cook was using canned mushrooms instead of fresh ones. Obviously, the crowds before us had consumed all the fresh mushrooms and they went with a back-up plan. The manager will easily correct that mistake once he reviews their cooking practices.
Our star pitcher, Josh Moon, broke from the pack and ordered a custom-made hamburger and fries, and he loved it. The mammoth burger was large enough to fulfill any athlete. You can also choose a turkey burger if you want to live a little healthier, but my players rarely choose that option.
Our petite female fan also wanted to mix things up, so she and I shared a very tasty cheesesteak sandwich. We really enjoyed the entire presentation with the overflowing of meat on the toasted bun. A real Philadelphia native would have to be the expert judge but I thought it was a home run. Traditional Italian salads and desserts are also available if your hunger goes into extra innings.
One of the best parts of Caminiti's is the sports theme. Multiple HDTV's hang on the wall and you can request any game you want by asking your waitress to change the channel. Believe it or not, two of the guys on the Dirtstars wanted to watch the Los Angeles Kings hockey game. In a matter of seconds, the TV above our table was showing the Kings upset victory over Calgary. Many people don't realize that Southern California has another exciting hockey team besides the Anaheim Ducks and Caminiti's will gladly show any LA Kings game that is being broadcast. I tip my hat to the owner for giving hockey the respect it deserves and Kings fans are encouraged to give Caminiti's some business this season.
Since Caminiti's is a rookie restaurant, it's still a work in progress. The lights are a little bright and the sound is a little low for a typical sports bar but those are minor problems. The drinks are also limited to beer, wine and soda. As of our trip, there is not currently a full bar.
The establishment reminds me of a typical mom-and-pop shop in the 1970s where everybody knows your name and favorite pizza. I could definitely see the locals in the neighborhood stopping by to talk sports while grabbing a bite to eat. Maybe the owner will get a vintage pinball machine to complete the vibe.
Caminiti's is extremely kid-friendly and unlike other "sports restaurants," they have a complete kids' menu. The most expensive item is only $3.95! I highly recommend taking your family here if you want to avoid the hassle of downtown.
It's basically impossible to screw up pizza. I'm sure Caminiti's will continue to make adjustments to their menu to create a long-term winner that the citizens of Burbank can call their own. I'm just glad we got to eat there during their inaugural season when the prices were low and the service was spot on. Can they keep this up before everybody jumps on the bandwagon? My full gut instinct says yes. Can the Dirtstars win again? Practice and lots of pizza and beer will help out that cause.
MATT BELLNER is an actor and player/manager of the Burbank Dirtstars.
What: Caminiti's Pizza & Sports
Where: 1220 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, 91506
When: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Costs: Appetizers: $1 to $7.95, pasta meals: $8.95 to $11.95, Cheese Pizza (13" small $7.95, 16" Medium $10.95, 20" Large $12.95) numerous toppings .95 to $1.75; daily specials and catering available
Contact: (818) 556-6550 or visit http://www.caminitipizza.com