Since I was a wee babe, ChiChi’s Italian Restaurant has been a family favorite. A local legend in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys of Southern California, ChiChi’s is a place that everyone knows. (Just for the record ChiChi means “little bird” in Italian.)
We have a photo of me at 2 weeks old sitting atop a table there as well as other shots from birthdays, late nights after high school basketball games, and other special events, like when we announced we were having a baby. It’s a memory making place.
Everything at ChiChi’s is fresh and made to order. The pasta are homemade and the pizza is hand stretched. Mmmm…. I want some right now!
One of my ultimate favorite things to order at ChiChi’s (besides “a pepperoni and mushroom pizza, stretched, and cut the old-fashioned way”) would be their Italian salad. Oh my! Soooo yummy! Unfortunately, distance and money stand in the way of my indulging to my heart’s content.
After years of experimenting, I recently saw great success is copying it at home. Yeehaw! And I’m going to share the secret with you. The salad part was never hard to mimic, but the dressing? Ah, that’s another story. Recently, my brother brought a few containers of dressing home with him and I was able to take apart the flavors a little. The trick is to use vegetable oil, milder than olive oil, and to add a pinch of sugar if your red wine vinegar is more sour than sweet.
So if you’re a Valley local, or even if you’re not, you can enjoy this delicious salad at home, for a fraction of the cost. Now that’s one good. cheap. eat.
Recipe: ChiChi’s Salad
- 1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed and torn into bite sized pieces
- 1 tomato, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese
- 1/4 onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup pepperoncini peppers
- Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Drizzle dressing over. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Recipe: ChiChi’s Salad Dressing
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- pinch sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon basil
- 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
- In small jar or mixing bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Whisk in oil to blend.