By Sean Russell
Culinary artist Hector Cruz is the owner of Antonino’s Pizza and Pasta, and what makes him truly astonishing is what he does with his pizzas. Imagine being able to order customized pizza designs for any occasion. This reality was made possible by years of working with Italian cuisine and one fortunate encounter on St. Patrick’s Day. After seeing his friend and fellow shopowner design a green pizza in the shape of a four-leaf clover, Hector racked his brain to reverse engineer his very own design. This led to a barrage of unique concepts that ranged from Sponge Bob Square Pants, Hello Kitty, Christmas trees, names, numbers, country flags and a Valentine pizza with heart-shaped pepperoni and braided crust. Legendary hip-hop artist, Noreaga, commissioned him to craft a pizza in the fashion of a Newport cigarette box. Another interesting design included a poker table with eatable chips made from pepperoni. Although this concept seems a novelty, Hector stresses, “Quality comes first!” Antonino’s fare is made to order with sauces that are cooked six-to-seven hours at a time, and a chicken parmesan dish that is egged and breaded moments after the order is placed. Like an old school Sicilian kitchen, his food is made with ample amounts of love and passion. Hector’s unique designs has sparked the interest of a potential reality show. It is being modeled after the popular TLC program, Cake Boss, as a film crew presently shoots their sizzle reel about his Holly-
wood restaurant. Much like the premise of the popular cable program, the series will showcase Hector as the head of his flourishing restaurant. In a world where characters are welcomed, fans of this piloted series will get to see an assortment of designs and various personalities. This includes the staff and various customers. The other similar food industry reality series include Ace of Cakes, Next Great Baker and Kitchen Boss. The cast will include Hector, his cashier, dishwasher, cook and driver. Like any close-knit working family, Antonino’s is bustling with personality, charisma and drama. Do not expect to go to Antonino’s and choose from a catalog of pre-made designs. Much like the preparation of his food, each idea is made fresh to order. Just provide an idea, a few days notice and an appetite. Prices also defers to the complexity of the project. After hearing the initial concept, Hector will go to work, challenging his innate ability to create a one-of-a-kind work of art for your event and immediate consumption. Browse their menu of Italian and American dishes. Appetizers include a classic assortment of hot wings, French fries, jalapeno poppers, cheese sticks, garlic bread, and a garlic cheeseburger. Other dishes include salads, baked pasta dishes, veal, chicken and eggplant parmesan sandwiches and pizza. In its fourth year, Antonino’s Pizza and Pasta, 7218 Taft St., provides delivery service to northwest Hollywood, 40th Ave., to Hiatus Rd.; Stirling Rd. to Hollywood Blvd/Pembroke Rd. from 11am-10pm Tues. thru Sat., and Sun., noon-10pm. (954) 961-4487.