22641 Lake Forest Drive
Lake Forest, CA
(Behind Mimi’s Café)
39112 Winchester Road
Murrieta Hot Springs, CA
I was driving down Lake Forest Drive last Friday with a coworker. We were fully intending to stop at Jack In The Box to get something for lunch. As we approached the parking lot we saw two girls jumping up and down, waving signs that read, “Large Pizza, One Topping $5.99!” I turned to my coworker and said, “I guess we’re getting pizza then!”
We pulled into the parking lot and saw that a new pizza place called “Pacino’s” had taken over the spot where Pizza Mona used to be. We walked inside and went up to the counter. A couple of girls were frantically working two cash registers, fielding phone calls and yelling in to the back for more help. We looked around the restaurant and discovered that they had a whole Al Pacino theme going on. The walls were covered with pictures of Al and all of his movie posters. Each table had a copy of his filmography and biography on it as well. The owner must really be obsessed with Al Pacino.
We looked over the menu. The menu here boasts “A Taste of Da Bronx.” What I liked the most about the menu was the variety. Pacino’s serves chicken wings, pizza, salads, calzones, pastas and strombolis. They have no less than 21 special “Artistic Creations” pizzas, many of them named after Al Pacino movies like “Carlito’s Corner” and “Scent of a Pizza”. They also offer 38 pizza toppings if you’d like to create your own. Some of the most unusual pizza toppings I saw here were coconut, caramelized pecans and mandarin oranges. I also saw 16 different flavors of chicken wings on their menu.
In the end, my buddy and I both decided to stick with their grand opening special $5.99 large pizza. He got a large sausage pizza and I got a large pepperoni and added an extra topping, fresh garlic, for $1.59 more. We were told that our order would take about 15 minutes. We went and found a seat at one of the tables and watched as the girls behind the counter ran around trying to do everything. While there, I believe I saw no less than 8 different girls working and running around. It looks like the owner purposely tried to hire young girls to run the place. The only male employee was the lone pizza chef. Even with 8 or so girls taking orders, collecting money, taking phone orders, slicing pizza and passing out orders, they couldn’t keep up. There was a steady stream of people coming through the door and the phone was always ringing.
Since things were so hectic, I stood near the viewing window into the kitchen. I watched my pizza go from the prep table to the oven to the box. One of the girls messily sliced up the pizza, and shouted, “Pepperoni Pizza!!!” I grabbed the box and said, “Pepperoni Garlic pizza, right?” knowing that it was, since I watched the whole time. “Um….yeeeeah,” she replied. If they continue to be this busy, they are really going to need to come up with some kind of order number system or something. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one there ordering pepperoni pizza. If I hadn’t been watching my pizza, someone else might have snatched it up. I was also watching for my buddy’s pizza. He ordered his right after mine. I was already holding my pizza in my hand and his had not even gone into the oven yet. I think that with so many orders coming in, they got all mixed up in the kitchen and his got pushed to the back of the line once or twice. After another 15 minutes or so, we both had our pizzas and we drove back to the office.
I got back to the office and opened the box. The pizza smelled delicious and looked fantastic. I took one of the greasy, floppy, foldable slices out of the box and took a bite. The pizza was just as good as it looked, and it was still hot despite coming out of the oven a good 20 minutes earlier. There was plenty of sauce on the pizza, which I like, and all the flavors were prefect. I stuffed myself with over half the pizza and sat back satisfied. I sent an instant message to my buddy. “Pizza is good!” He responded “Yup…it’s so good”. I think we’ll be back at Pacino’s again soon, especially if they keep this $5.99 special going. (Regular pizza price is $8.99 for the 14” large cheese pizza, toppings $1.59 each)
I went to Pacino's again for lunch today. I asked if they still had the large 1-topping special for $5.99. They told me that it was now $6.99. I tried to order a pizza with half pepperoni and half sausage, but they told me there would be an upcharge on that. Even though there is only one topping on each half of the pizza, they still consider it two toppings. Weird. I ended up just getting a pepperoni pizza. The pizza was still really good.