Janet Balarezo and husband Dante debuted Bonano’s Chicken in a Northridge strip mall in 2003. Each scintillating bird cooks in a red tiled rotisserie oven that burns hazelnut wood behind the counter. Smoke infuses juicy meat with flavor, imbues a pink hue, and boosts caramelization on crispy skin. The accompanying steamed rice and earthy, garlic-kissed Peruvian beans are also stellar. Spice hounds will appreciate house-made aji, a pastel green chile sauce flecked with a variety of Peruvian black mint called huacatay.
Brent’s Deli has been a Northridge institution since 1967, and current owners Patricia and Ron Peskin grabbed the reins two years later. Yes, the couple has a son named Brent, and the family-run business also includes key contributions from daughter Carie and son-in-law Marc. The Black Pastrami Reuben is their masterpiece, involving a luscious stack of thin-sliced, spice-crusted beef piled with melted Swiss, warm sauerkraut and Russian dressing on grilled rye bread. Cole slaw, potato salad, and thick-cut French fries all pair well.
After The Habit landed nearby, the family that runs King’s Burgers needed to diversify to survive. Jun Cha, a seasoned sushi chef from restaurants like Katana and Sushi Roku, implemented a creative sushi program under the same roof, presiding over a six-seat bar and brown cushioned booths. His sister runs the front of house Cha crafts “special rolls,” 3 Way Sushi that unlocks each seafood’s full potential, and creative nigiri. I’m partial toward silky salmon belly sushi that rests on wasabi-dabbed rice and comes dressed with creamy salsa, briny Sevruga caviar, sliced cherry tomato, and crispy shaved red onion.
Musse is a traditional Korean iron pot, and the restaurant’s owners serve home-style soups, stews, and rice dishes in said vessel. Jay Kim, wife Jenny, sister-in-law Hannah Lee, and their chef/mom Myung combine to deliver flavorful Korean comfort food. Boiled ox bone soup with “assorted beef” features tender sliced head, knee, and tail meat in a cloudy broth. Toppings like raw scallions, mushrooms, and baby corn provide textural contrast. Modeum jeongol is the Korean name for this hearty, satisfying dish.
The Elmor family hails from Haifa and Pita Pockets is the restaurant that honors their Israeli heritage. Black and white checkered floors and Middle Eastern murals grace their space in Northridge University Center. Laffa is their springy, pull-apart, house-baked flatbread that cradles juicy turmeric-stained chicken shawarma shavings. Each sandwich comes fully loaded with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, creamy hummus, tahini, a choice of rice or French fries, and hot sauce made with jalapeño, vinegar, and red pepper.