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Healthy junk food?

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HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE :  Chef Deborah Bellocchi prepares exquisite pizzas, waits tables, and delivers her fare to customers who call in dinner orders. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE : Chef Deborah Bellocchi prepares exquisite pizzas, waits tables, and delivers her fare to customers who call in dinner orders.
Don’t you wish you could eat all of the junk foods you love and know you’re getting something good for your health, too? I certainly do, but French fries and nachos are difficult to duplicate when you’re compromising the original recipe with healthy ingredients. Though some products claim to be healthy foods that taste good, that’s rarely true. I’m open-minded but, let’s face it: a tofu burger can’t replace a fully loaded, juicy cheeseburger with a big side of perfectly-crisp fries. Pizza, on the other-hand, is like junk food but still tastes sinfully delicious, even when it’s made with healthy ingredients.

- GO FOR IT:  Doughboy’s Pizzeria, 1800 Grand Ave. - Grover Beach, CA., 474-8888 -
  • GO FOR IT: Doughboy’s Pizzeria,
    1800 Grand Ave.
    Grover Beach, CA., 474-8888
  I offer proof of this in the delicious pizzas served at Doughboy’s Pizzeria in Grover Beach. For those of you who can’t eat pizza because you’re gluten intolerant, here’s great news: Doughboy’s offers gluten-free dough in pizzas and focaccia. For the majority of the public there’s good old American white dough. Choose your favorite of seven crust styles offered and you can have it topped with an array of appealing possibilities from a list of 30 different toppings. Not creative? No worries, owner chef Deborah Bellocchi created 15 unique specialty pizzas, one of which is sure to satisfy your taste and hunger.

A sampling includes: the gourmet veggie topped with mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, zucchinis, mushrooms, olives, onions, artichoke hearts, and bell peppers; the Mauiwowie has mozzarella, ham, and pineapple; the white knight has garlic white sauce, white roast chicken, white mushrooms, and white onions. Prices range from a small pie at $8.95 to $64.95 for the combo XXX-large, a whopping 28-inch pizza pie with the works.

 Dining there with Santa Maria Valley winemaker and close friend Lane Tanner, we were quite pleased by the good quality food, reasonable prices, and the service. Actually, we were served by the owner and chef at this Doughboy’s Pizzeria, Deborah Bellocchi. The personable and friendly restaurateur runs the little trattoria by herself at lunch Tuesday through Thursday. She does everything from preparing the orders of her housemade foods to serving them fresh and hot from the 500-degree oven. It feels like you’re a guest in her home, but you don’t feel obligated to stay and help wash dishes. Lane and I shared two orders, which Bellocchi accommodatingly split for us.

PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
 
PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
We thoroughly enjoyed the fresh chef’s salad with a base of romaine lettuce, button mushrooms, red onion, and vine-ripened tomato wedges, topped with honey-cured ham, roast turkey, Italian salami, all beef pepperoni, grated mozzarella cheese, black olives, diced hard-boiled egg, and bacon bits ($8.95 full, $4.95 side). Whew, it’s a meal in itself and we couldn’t finish it with more food coming. I ordered a glass of the Robert Pepi 2008 Pinot Grigio ($5/ glass, $19.50/bottle), a pretty, fruity California-style white that was perfect with my lunch. Notice those value prices—everything here is reasonably priced. All of her fresh made salads, sandwiches on such choices as gluten-free housemade focaccia, and appetizers are priced $8.95 or less.

 Lane agreed to share the Stromboli, which is like a calzone. Wikipedia differentiates them this way: “Traditionally the two are distinct dishes. A common misconception is that the ingredients are the primary difference. A calzone is served with the sauce on the side and the stromboli is baked with the sauce inside.” Bellocchi will make it with any of her housemade sauces and your choice of ingredients. Lane and I chose mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, and fresh spinach. It looked like a hot and savory turnover with its crisp outer crust that was tender inside and quite delicious with our favored selections, quite fresh. We took half of that home, too.

PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
 
PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
Bellocchi explained to us there are Doughboy’s Pizzerias back east but she is an independent, not a franchise: “This place had two other pizzerias before mine: First it was Pizza Express; and then it was purchased by a man who was into the military and named it for the doughboy hats the American infantrymen wore in World War I.” Bellocchi bought the place more than five years ago, and kept the name to spare the expensive option of changing the really nice sign above the door. Besides, it’s easy to spot from the busy intersection of Grand Avenue and Oak Park. “We’re making more of a gourmet pizza now.”

 My first visit, months earlier, was with another friend, Teri Bayus. She told me about Doughboy’s and met me there for lunch. We both had the killer lunch special, only $6.50 each: one giant slice of a 28-inch pizza with a choice of three toppings, a side salad, and a soda. I loved that crusty pizza dripping with melted mozzarella. Bellocchi told me that the gluten-free pizza is growing in popularity, and many people seek her out because she is the local restaurant producing it fresh. Bellocchi carved one great niche for her eatery. Like the other doughs, she makes the gluten-free in-house. And it has to be treated separately from the wheat-based doughs so there’s no chance of cross-contamination, including baking it in a different oven. Online at doughboyspizzeria.net you’ll find a gluten-free menu, among the other specials and regular daily menu.

PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
There’s more behind her menu than a desire to offer crusts that will please everyone. Formerly, Bellocchi was an LVN who worked in the medical field for more than 27 years. She grew tired of the red tape and retired six years ago. That’s when she decided to open a restaurant. She went to Oaxaca to study Mexican cuisine and found a suitable building in downtown Pismo Beach. Lease issues with the owner, however, made her rethink her decision. That’s when she met Teri and Gary Bayus who own Mail Plus and Prestige Business Sales & Acquisitions in Pismo Beach. “Gary found this place for me and held my hand through the purchase. I still go back to ask his advice,” Bellocchi said. “I’m having fun and customers really like the gluten-free option.”

 She and her husband, Toby Bellocchi, are avid bikers and each owns their own Harley-Davidson. They regularly ride to Cold Springs and through SLO County wine country, often going on fundraisers for local charities. She caters private parties for kids or adults and business meetings. Doughboy’s is open Tuesday through Sunday; lunch is served Tuesday through Saturday. Order a pizza delivered for dinner (no lunch deliveries) and it might be Bellocchi driving up in her bright blue tuk-tuk, a three-wheel Thai taxi she bought to serve as Doughboy’s delivery cart. She’s the only one brave enough to drive it around town.

You can reach New Times’ Cuisine columnist at khardesty@newtimesslo.com.

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