If there’s an empty storefront in your neighborhood strip mall, chances are that a fast-casual pizza joint will be occupying it shortly — that is, if one hasn’t already set up shop. In recent months, a parade of customizable pizza establishments has marched across the Southland, offering an assembly line of meats, cheeses, vegetables and herbs for pizza-goers to mix and match according to their individual palates.
Southern California-based concepts — including Blaze, Pieology, 800 Degrees and PizzaRev — are going head-to-head with out-of-state contenders like Live Basil and MOD Pizza for market share and diners’ dollars. With so many brands entering the market, seemingly overnight, it can be nearly impossible to distinguish one build-your-own pizza place from the next.
Examining the major players by assessing their basic margherita pizzas reveals the essential differences between them. Comprised of just tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil, set on a thin and blistered crust, this Neapolitan classic requires pristine ingredients, sound techniques, and a blazing hot oven. When it comes to pizza, it’s often the simplest ones that reveal the most about an establishment.
Continue reading ‘Chain Reaction: Battle of Los Angeles’ Fast-Casual Margherita Pizzas’
I have the biggest crush on Lincoln. Situated at the border between Altadena and Pasadena in a former machine shop, this delicious and stylish new restaurant from Little Flower Candy’ Co.‘s Christine Moore is my go-to spot for laid back lunches and pastry fixes. Three visits in and I still can’t get enough.
The menu, which is comprised of breakfast dishes (served all day!), sandwiches, and salads, strikes a balance between familiar and innovative. Whether you’re in the mood for classic or creative fare, there’s something for everyone here.
One of the highlights of dining at Lincoln is scoping out the pastry counter. Chef Cecilia Leung always has an enticing spread of cookies, cakes, scones, breads, and muffins available at all hours of the day. Try as I might, I can never limit myself to just one treat (as you’ll see below).
Pro Tip: Follow Cecilia on Instagram to see what irresistible delights she’s currently baking and serving.
Continue reading ‘Lincoln – Pasadena’
I’ve been a fan of Pitfire Artisan Pizza ever since sampling their slices a few years back, so I was pumped when Paul Hibler and team announced that their eighth location would be right in my own backyard. There certainly isn’t a shortage of pizza purveyors in Pasadena, but you know, a girl’s got to have choices.
Housed in the abandoned Sizzler on Arroyo Parkway, the new Pitfire is airy and spacious with communal tables, high ceilings, and wide aisles (perfect for parents with strollers—like us!). An eye-poppingly red Mugnaini oven provided a fitting centerpiece to the room.
The Astronomer and I came in for lunch with Baby June last week—our first solo food outing with the little one. Fortunately, she slept through the whole meal.
Service here is of the fast-casual variety, with orders placed at the front counter and food delivered when it’s ready.
The first dish to arrive was the Fall Farmers Market Plate ($10.85), which included roasted mushrooms with herbed citrus bread crumbs, ginger tomato jam and ricotta on grilled rustic bread, roasted brussels sprouts with salsa verde, and chile roasted pumpkin with garlic oil. The Astronomer and I both agreed that the ginger-spiked tomato jam on toast was most definitely our jam.
Continue reading ‘Pitfire Artisan Pizza – Pasadena’
While some folks are juicing their way into the New Year, I’m doing quite the opposite. Sure I’ve got a few postpartum pounds left to lose, but first, pasta, pizza, and mortadella hot dogs!
With The Astronomer on baby duty last Monday night, I made my way to Manhattan Beach to join my friends Darin and Diana for dinner at Love & Salt, where we feasted on the aforementioned indulgences and so much more.
Opened late last year in the former Café Pierre space, Love & Salt is a collaboration between Chef Michael Fiorelli (most recently of mar’sel at Terranea Resort) and restauranteurs Guy and Sylvie Gabriele (Zazou, Farm Stand).
The restaurant, by the way, is named for the team’s philosophy that great food needs only love and salt. True that.
Continue reading ‘Love & Salt – Los Angeles (Manhattan Beach)’