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Pinocchio’s has panache

Ever wish there was a clean, homespun place where you could bring a horde of hungry youths, let them eat their fill, and still have money left in your wallet? Well, your wish is granted. Just trot the little ones over to Pinocchio’s Italian Restaurant in Burbank and line ‘em up at the cafeteria-style counter.

A recent facelift added some tables and freshened the restaurant’s faux wine-cellar motif, but the big menu board survived. The food is old-style southern Italian with heavy sauces, pasta, meats and lots of cheese. And what a value! For less than $10 you can get a meal that is plenty big enough to share.

The big board features a list of sandwiches, pizzas and dinner entrées. My appetite drove me right to the Italian sausage sandwich with sautéed peppers and onions. It’s served on a soft roll and topped with marinara. Wow! The sausage is on the mild side, but flavorful and delicious. The meatball sandwich is another favorite and several cold-cut combos are offered as well.

The dinner entrées are simple Italian favorites. Spaghetti and meatballs leads the way with thick noodles and tasty meatballs, smothered in marinara or meat sauce. The chicken Parmesan is simply a grilled chicken breast with cheese, laid atop pasta with marinara. Better is the eggplant Parmesan ? a rich stack of the sliced vegetable layered with mozzarella cheese and baked in a casserole. The huge 6-inch-square serving is generously ladled with marinara or meat sauce. Delish.

Lasagna ? with or without meat ? is another classic and Pinocchio’s version is dense with cheese and broad noodles. Side dishes are fairly unremarkable, though the restaurant’s take on a Greek salad ? with feta cheese and spicy vinaigrette ? is quite good. Other specialties include spinach ravioli in a pink sauce, fettuccine Alfredo (a Parmesan cream sauce), gnocchi (potato dumplings with marinara) and thin-crust pizza.

For dessert, you must try the homemade gelato. Pinocchio’s offers gelato, which is lighter than ice cream, in many different flavors. There are also a few bakery items to choose from, like cannoli ? tube-shaped shells with a sweet, creamy vanilla filling. Terrific!

And don’t overlook the Monte Carlo delicatessen in the next room. It’s a fun and fragrant place to shop, with a large case brimming with fresh meats and cheeses, breads and baked goods, pizza dough, Italian canned and frozen goods and a nice wine and beer selection. It’s the place to go if you’re planning an Italian dinner party.

So if you’re in the mood for basic Italian fare, with no strings attached, check out Pinocchio’s. You’ll be joining families, soccer teams, starving artists, budget-minded seniors, movie crews and students for wholesome, tasty food at prices even a wooden boy can afford.

FYI

WHAT: Pinocchio’s

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday

WHERE: 3103 W. Magnolia Blvd

COST: Lunch and dinner $3.95 to $8.95

CONTACT: (818) 845-3517, fax (818) 845-1979

OTHER: Catering and delicatessen


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