It’s the beginning of a new school year, and there’s no better way to celebrate the procuring of syllabi and getting lost on campus than by trying the newest menus in town. Whether you’re a freshman or a returning student, these recently opened eateries are mixing it up and ready to open up your mouth to tastes previously undiscovered. Prepare to get schooled.

Fresh Prince of Isla Vista

McMaster’s Steak & Hoagie
910 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista
Phone: (805) 685-7010
Price: under $10

In Philadelphia, born and raised, is where the hoagie spent most of its days. But, fortunately for you, you can skip the plane ticket and cavity search by heading on over to Isla Vista’s new hoagie heaven, McMaster’s Steak & Hoagie. The newest eatery in I.V. opened in the middle of September and specializes in these Italian-influenced sandwiches.

Upon entering the restaurant, you’ll see numerous news articles adorning the red walls praising owner George McMaster’s previous steak and hoagie ventures, indicating the mastery of his culinary field of choice.

“We offer what we feel is the finest example of Philadelphia-style sandwich cuisine available anywhere on the West Coast,” McMaster said.

With a history of opening 12 other steak and hoagie eateries over the years, McMaster is the resident hoagie expert. He attributes the often-debated emergence of the hoagie sandwich to two stories. McMaster said the hoagie is either a slur on sandwiches called “hoggies” that were eaten by Italian iron workers at Hog Island in the Delaware River at the turn of the century or it originates from Hogan’s Hookies – sandwiches sold by a man named Hogan during the Depression to local schoolchildren who would take the sandwiches with them when they went fishing. Either way, this eatery offers the best way to get a taste of American history with the freshest ingredients.

“Everything is fresh and we prep everything ourselves,” McMaster said. “We use good, local bread from Mama’s Bakery down on Hollister Avenue.”

The menu is divided into hot and cold-cut sandwiches. McMaster recommends the Pizza Steak, a piping hot pile of thinly sliced rib-eye steak, mozzarella cheese, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms and tomato sauce. The Italian Hoagie is also very popular, with its legendary construction of ham, salami, lettuce, tomato, onion, oregano, Italian dressing and white American, mozzarella and provolone cheeses.

McMaster’s Steak & Hoagie offers convenient hours for lunch, dinner and late night hoagie-ing down. Open Sundays from noon to 10 p.m., Mondays through Wednesdays from noon to 12 a.m. and Thursdays through Saturdays from noon to 3 a.m., you have no excuse for not “philling” up on these classic sandwiches that exhibit a McMastery of flavor and satisfaction.

Can You Handle This?

956 Embarcadero Del Norte
(805) 968-1600
Price: under $10

We all know about being bootylicious, whether through a love of Destiny’s Child or by being a victim of its radio overplay. Berrilicious, a new I.V. eatery, is a delicious treat that won’t assault your eardrums or add to your booty. Opened a month ago, the eatery already has a strong following, exhibited by the various letters of praise pinned to one of the walls.

Don’t let the fact that there’s only frozen yogurt and shaved ice treats on Berrilicious’ menu mislead you. With a bounty of toppings such as crushed Oreo, chocolate chips, berries, tropical fruits and cereals, the combinations are endless.

“Everybody has different combinations,” manager Eddie Jung said. “There’s 18 different toppings and you can get three, so if you do the math, that’s a lot of combinations.”

Jung recommends the fresh berries and the cereals as zeniths of flavor for your mountain of frozen yogurt.

“Some people are reluctant to pay for the cereal toppings like the Fruity Pebbles or Cap’n Crunch, but it’s one of best toppings,” Jung said.

Berrylicious offers what few establishments can – healthy desserts that actually taste good.

“It’s sweet, tart and tangy all in one,” Jung said. “It’s low in calories and has zero fat.”

The frozen yogurt offered at this eatery carries other health benefits as well: It’s high in calcium, boosts the immune system and helps digestion.

Despite its frozen treats, Berrilicious could become one of I.V.’s hottest hangouts. The eatery features tons of patio and indoor seating, board games like chess and checkers and free wireless Internet access. The owners also welcome suggestions for special events, like poetry readings or open mic nights.

“I want the place to be for the students,” Jung said.

With such an investment in local students, it would be remiss not to invest in a bowl of frozen yogurt or shaved ice. The eatery is open Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. And remember, it’s not just good for you and delicious – it’s berrilicious.

Voulez-Vous Manger Avec Moi, Ce Soir?

Petit Valentien
1114 State St.
(805) 966-0222
Price: $10-20

Imagine strolling through the Champs-Élysées instead of the halls of UCSB. Imagine a mime named Pierre, whose silence speaks as loud as the flavor does at State Street’s latest restaurant, Petit Valentien. With a constantly changing menu filled with luxurious cuisine, you can learn to Louvre French food and take the opportunity to assimilate your taste buds to several different dishes before you even apply for a passport.

“The menu changes on a weekly basis – some things stay, some go,” manager Jess Sieber said. “We encourage people to try new things and get the flavor for as many things as possible.”

According to Sieber, Petit Valentien’s menu is divided into three sections: small plate, salad plate and entrée plate. The extensive menu encourages patrons to expand their culinary horizons and reflects seasonal changes in produce.

“The warm fig and goat cheese salad is representative of the fresh and local flavors, since it is fig season,” she said.

The restaurant’s offerings vary from the mouthwatering artichoke pancake with tomato and red onion confit and warm goat cheese to the crisp crêpe of escargot with red wine sauce. Sieber recommends the bacon-wrapped halibut with fresh green lentils, as well as the warm fig and goat cheese salad.

Sieber also stresses the importance of ordering dessert at Petit Valentien, where all of the delectable treats are made in-house.

“I would definitely recommend all of our desserts,” she said. “The lemon-scented cheesecake and chocolate marquis are two of my personal favorites.”

Usually, your fear of escargot is miniscule compared to your fear of prices at French eateries. However, Petit Valentien has such reasonable prices that even those who aren’t exactly nouveau riche can’t complain.

“The food is high-class gourmet at reasonable prices to encourage a diverse crowd,” Sieber said.

The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and for lunch Thursdays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. So whether you’re trying to impress a date with your culture or winding down a long day at the wine bar with a slice of cheesecake, you’ll find that je ne sais quoi at Petit Valentien that is sure to make it a hit in Santa Barbara for years to come.

Yes, college is an institution of higher learning, but don’t forget that restaurants are institutions of culinary learning – except the only reading assignment is the menu and the final is dessert. Test out these newest eateries, and you’ll be the one giving the “A+.”