By Michele E. Buttelman
Signal Staff Writer
If Philadelphia is known for its cheesesteaks, Kansas City for its ribs and New Orleans for its gumbo, what signature dishes can Santa Clarita Valley restaurants claim as their own?
In the SCV’s vibrant restaurant scene several restaurants offer signature dishes that are personal to the chefs, or restaurant owners, that placed these dishes on their menus.
Salt Creek Grille
24415 Town Center Drive #115, Valencia 91355
Salt Creek Grille opened in the heart of Valencia in 1999. The restaurant has become a community landmark supporting SCV nonprofits and offering customers superior food and service.
Since day one the restaurant’s owner, Greg Amsler, has featured The Grille Chop, a double cut Mesquite grilled pork chop, served with garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal farm fresh vegetables, on the restaurant’s menu.
“Because I’m from Iowa I consider the double cut Mesquite grilled pork chop our signature dish,” he said. “This pork chop is brined so we don’t have to cook it to death. It is served topped with apple chutney for a sweet and savory taste.”
Amsler suggests “If you like spicy ask for it Greg’s way … blackened.”
A dinner at Salt Creek is not complete without the Chocolate Ganache Soufflé for dessert. A Salt Creek Grille specialty, the made to order fresh- baked double chocolate soufflé is finished table-side with warm chocolate sauce. Amsler advises guests to order the chocolate souffle with your dinner selections as this special dessert takes 25 minutes to prepare.
Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewing Co.
27746 McBean Parkway, Valencia 91354
In 1997 Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewing Co. opened its doors in Valencia’s Northpark Village Square Shopping Center. A strong supporter of the SCV community and SCV nonprofits, Wolf Creek prides itself on a varied menu that includes vegan and vegetarian dishes, as well as dishes with a southwest twist.
“Our biggest sellers are two of our signature dishes,” said McFerren.
The Taos Egg Rolls are made with chicken, cilantro, corn, avocado, cheese, roasted red peppers, red onion and served with avocado cream and chipotle ketchup.
“The Taos Egg Rolls have been our number one seller on our appetizer menu since day one,” she said. “I think it is a unique twist on an egg roll and has a lot of flavor.”
The Southwest Chicken Salad is made with baby lettuces, chicken, corn, red onion, jack cheese, tomato, cilantro, tortilla strips, pepitas and served with a citrus cilantro dressing.
The Old Town Junction
24275 Main St.,
Newhall, CA 91321
Executive chef and culinary instructor Daniel Otto, the SCV’s own “celebrity chef,” opened The Old Town Junction as co-owner in 2018. Otto is well known in the community for both his food and his charity work.
General Manager Shane Bothwell said the slow-braised short rib ranks at the top of the Old Town Newhall restaurant’s signature dishes. “I don’t think we’ve ever taken the short rib off the menu,” he said.
The OTJ Braised Short Rib is paired with seasonal, fresh sides. “We change our menu up often as we have a farm-to-table philosophy using only seasonal fresh ingredients,” Bothwell said. “All of our entrees are paired with the freshest ingredients we can find.”
The Old Town Junction also features more than 15 craft cocktails. “We have the same mentality with our curated cocktails using kitchen inspired ingredients and fresh juices,” he said.
Among the most popular cocktail served is the Old Town Fashioned. “It’s an Old Fashioned cocktail, but we add a piece of beef jerky to it and a Luxardo cherry to it, just to have a little fun.”
27911 Seco Canyon Road, Saugus 91350
Bella Cucina was opened by Roza and Jay Hamzei in 2005. The restaurant started out in a location on Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country before it moved to Valencia, then to its current location in Saugus. It remains a family owned and operated business dedicated to serving authentic Italian cuisine.
Crafted by Master Chef Luca Tourmadi, who hails from Sicily, Bella Cucina’s signature Pappardelle Mediterraneo is made with fresh homemade pasta with jumbo shrimp, scallops, organic asparagus and real crab meat in a creamy lobster sauce with a touch of crushed pepper.
Maginns Irish Pub
24480 Main St. #140, Newhall 91321
Located in Old Town Newhall Maginns is a recent addition to the SCV restaurant scene, but it has already made headlines. In March, Yelp ranked Maginns Irish Pub in Santa Clarita as the seventh best Irish pub in the nation shortly before it held its first St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Candice Maginn, owner of Maginns Pub, said the restaurant’s signature dish is its fish and chips. “It has become surprisingly popular in the SCV,” she said. “The thing that makes our fish and chips special is the high-quality fish we use. We use wild-caught Icelandic Haddock and lightly coat it in our Smithwicks Irish Ale batter. We offer a huge portion and serve it with thick-cut fries (or “chips”) and a house-made tartar sauce and coleslaw.”
24011 Newhall Ranch Road, Valencia 91355
Marston’s Valencia is known in the SCV for its breakfasts and was named the “Best in California” according to the Food Network. Marston’s opened in the Bridgeport Marketplace in Valencia in 2011.
“Our most popular dish, and the one we are best known for, is our Fantastic French Toast,” said chef-owner Jim McCardy.
The signature breakfast treat is made by dipping thick slices of fresh sourdough bread in vanilla egg batter then rolling in cornflakes. “We also have a more decadent version called ‘The Works’ that’s topped with fresh berries, candied pecans and whipped cream. It’s been so popular we added it to our dinner menu as well,” he said.
McCardy said the restaurant cracks about 7,200 eggs per week and serves up as many 8,000 slices of French Toast a month.