Great Food Search: Rogue Eats 2023

Mar 25, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Rogue Festival, Terrance V. Mc Arthur, The Great Food Search

by Terrance Mc Arthur

The 2023 Fresno Rogue Performance Festival has come and gone, but the memories remain. For The Great Food Search, some of the best memories are of food. As I went from venue to venue, reviewing strange and amazing shows, one thing became obvious: even reviewers need to eat! Since the venues for the Rogue were in the Tower District, restaurants in that area were the obvious choice for the hungry reviewer. Therefore, here is a selection of where I went and what I got for Rogue ’23.

That’s not Mac & Cheese, it’s Creamy Cajun Penne with Chicken from Aromas Restaurant in the Tower District

Aromas Restaurant—568 E. Olive Ave., Fresno
The southwest corner of Olive and Echo has seen restaurants come and go. It’s close to another Rogue Festival venue, the Spectrum Gallery. Aromas is at the top of many online lists of Tower fooderies. Aromas has all-day breakfasts, but I went with the Creamy Cajun Penne with Chicken. Penne is a tube-shaped pasta, like a mini-manicotti. The Cajun sauce is flecked with its red bell pepper, tomato, onion, and mushroom ingredients, and topped with green onions and parmesan. The chicken gave its life proudly. The pictures don’t do it justice, making it look like a small serving of Macaroni & Cheese. It’s a lot bigger…and better.

Holy Cannoli! Chocolate dipped and pistachio-coated at Frosted Cakery in the Tower District

Frosted Cakery—1292 N. Wishon Ave., Fresno
The Frosted Cakery is a few doors down from the ViSTA Theater, one of the Fresno Rogue Festival’s venues, so it’s a tempting location for a snack before 5 p.m. when you’re catching a Rogue show on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. I’ve grabbed their cupcakes in the past, but this year I saw something in the side case that caught my eye—Cannoli. These pastry shells with a sweetened filling originated in Sicily. At the Cakery, a garden-variety cannoli is elevated by dipping half of it in chocolate and rolling it in pistachios. Pistachios, I tell you! Can you believe it? I’ve always looked at their cupcakes as great achievements in sweet cookery, but those cannoli—WOW!

Whole colorful Pesto Chicken Pizza from Pacifica Pizza in the Tower District!

Pacifica Pizza—444 E. Olive Ave., Fresno
In my years with the Fresno County Public Library, one of the nicest things to hear was “I brought pizza,” and if it was in a branch in Fresno, “pizza” meant Pacifica Pizza. Nowadays, the only Pacifica Pizza left in town is the one in the Tower District. It is only open for pick-up orders, these days, which I didn’t know, but they managed to whip up a medium Pesto Chicken Pizza in no time at all while I waited in my car. It came out like a kaleidoscope of green, red, brown, white, and gold, laden with Roasted Red Bell Peppers, Red Onions, Bacon, Marinated Artichokes, and Grilled Chicken, with a Basil Pesto Sauce. It had the quality taste I’ve always associated with the Pacifica brand. Ingredients I love, a great look, and excellent taste. What more could I expect?

The Verdict
What to choose? Cajun pasta? Cannoli with chocolate and pistachios? Pesto Pizza? I am definitely a pesto fan, but … The Frosted Cakery is my winner for the month. They made me understand why the mobster in The Godfather movie said, “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

Check out more food articles and more of Terrance’s Great Food Search column in our Food Fun section. And check out a KRL staff profile this week on Terrance!

Terrance V. Mc Arthur worked for the Fresno County Public Library for three decades. He is retired, but not retiring. A storyteller, puppeteer, writer, actor, magician, basketmaker, and all-around interesting person, his goal is to make life more unusual for everyone he meets.


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