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Appetite for Fresno

Who Has the Best Local Pizza? Burger? Restaurant Industry Honors Its Own



Pat LaRocca serenades the California Restaurant Association, after his family won a lifetime achievement award. (GV Wire/David Taub)
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Capping off accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award for his family, Pat LaRocca serenaded hundreds with a song.

The LaRocca family, known for operating several Fresno restaurants including Five, won the chief honor at Monday’s California Restaurant Association awards.

“When you do well, we all do well,” LaRocca said.

Dining on giant steaks offered by Pardini’s Catering, the Fresno County chapter hosted 650 attendees at the Doubletree Hotel ballroom in downtown Fresno. The local industry, along with a few elected leaders, gathered to celebrate the best.

Heirloom (8398 N. Fresno Street, suite 101, at the corner of Friant Road) cleaned the plate — winning the People’s Choice, along with best fast casual, and best family dining.

It was also a good night for Dave Fansler. The restaurateur won for best watering hole (Pismo’s Coastal Grill; 7937 N. Blackstone Ave.); best BBQ (Westwoods BBQ & Spice Co.; 8042 N. Blackstone Ave.; and best American (Yosemite Ranch; 1520 E. Champlain Dr.).

The CRA also inducted the first two members of its Hall of Fame, the late Vincent Papagni, who managed several restaurants in his lifetime, including Harris Ranch; and the late Ichiro Yoshino, known for his eponymous Japanese restaurant in Fresno.

The CRA also recognized David Rasavong. His Tasty Thai restaurant had to close down while it battled racism online.

Tasty Thai’s David Rasavong is recognized after facing racial discrimination over his restaurant. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Several Win Awards

Some select winners, with a full list below:

Best pizza: Annesso Pizzeria (9494 N. Friant Rd.)
Best chef: Jimmy Pardini

Annesso Pizzeria owner Jimmy Pardini prepares the Americano pizza (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)

Best steak: 13 Prime Steak (1345 N. Willow Ave., Suite 190, Clovis)

13 Prime Steak owner Falina Marihart. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Best burger: Colorado Grill (several locations in Fresno and Clovis)

Best deli: Sam’s Italian Deli & Market (2415 N. First St.)

Best sweet treats: Ampersand Ice Cream (three locations in Fresno)

Best Mexican: Sal’s Mexican Restaurant (locations in Fresno and Selma)

Restaurateur of the Year: Brandon Smittcamp of The Lime Lite (1054 W. Shaw Ave.)

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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