I finally made it to Union for dinner this week, nearly five months after it opened in Old Pasadena. I’ve been following the restaurant’s positive press since the start, but couldn’t quite swing a meal here (walking in at 5:30 PM on Saturday evening was impossible) until now. It was most definitely worth the wait.
Along with partner Marie Petulla, Chef Bruce Kalman has created a boisterous, 50-seat restaurant celebrating Northern Italian cooking using locally-sourced ingredients.
Prior to settling down, Chef Kalman was a James Beard nominated Rising Star Chef, pickle master, and alumnus of Park Avenue Café in New York, Spiaggia in Chicago, The Misfit in Santa Monica, and The Churchill in West Hollywood.
To start, a warm and crusty loaf from Etxea Basque Bakery served with house-made cultured butter sprinkled with coarse salt and damn fine giardiniera ($6). This was deceptively simple and so, so good.
Continue reading ‘Union – Pasadena’
With my girlfriend Kellie coming from Santa Ana and me in Pasadena, a lunch date in Gardena was logistically sound since it was approximately halfway* between our respective starting points. After debating a few Hawaiian and Japanese restaurant options in the area, I selected Eatalian Cafe for our meetup. Pasta. Forever.
Eatalian Cafe brings a slice of Italy to an industrial stretch of Gardena lined with manufacturers and repairmen. Owner Antonio Pellini initially planned to transform this former textile factory into a production facility for fresh cheeses, gelati, and baked goods; however, the sheer size of the space was so grand that a dining room was built into the plans.
Here at this cavernous temple of Italian cuisine, pastas, sauces, gelati, breads, and pastries are made fresh every morning.
Joining our party were The Astronomer and Kellie’s sis—the more the merrier.
To start, we shared the Emilia, grilled vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, onion, yellow and red bell pepper) topped with Parmigiano Reggiano and aged balsamic vinegar ($8.50). I loved the cheese’s salty granules, but the vegetables could’ve been smokier.
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Following our back to back fine dining feasts, The Astronomer and I were primed for something super-casual but equally delicious on Sunday before driving back to L.A. FIVE50 Pizza Bar, conveniently located on the first floor of our hotel, fit the bill just right.
I’ve been a fan of Chef Shawn McClain‘s cooking since dining at Sage several years ago, and was excited to try his spin on classic East Coast-style pizza. The restaurant is named after “the ideal temperature to cook your pizza to perfection,” according to the restaurant’s website.
Even though the cooking at Five50 is serious, the mood is perfectly laid back. The Astronomer appreciated the bountiful flat screens, while I liked the room’s colorful accents.
Continue reading ‘FIVE50 Pizza Bar – Las Vegas (Aria Resort & Casino)’
In college urban economics class, we studied the concept of agglomeration economies: “as more firms in related fields of business cluster together, their costs of production may decline significantly.”
While car dealerships are the classic example of this phenomenon, I’d argue that trattorias specializing in fresh, handmade pasta in Downtown Los Angeles are currently clustering in an economically savvy way. I’m not sure if my professors would agree, but it’s my blog and I’m going with it!
The Factory Kitchen, located in the Factory Place Arts Complex in the Arts District, is the latest addition to an Italian noodle hotbed that includes the likes of Bestia, Drago Centro, and Maccheroni Republic.
The restaurant is a collaborative effort between Restaurateur Matteo Ferdinandi, former business partner of Celestino Drago, and Chef Angelo Auriana, formerly of Valentino. The offerings aren’t region-specific, but are traditionally Italian, according to the restaurant’s website.
Using Jonathan Gold’s recent review as our guide, we set out to order as much food as a party of four could eat (and afford). This place ain’t cheap.
First up, the barberosse gratinate ($10), a sliced beet casserole swimming in an asiago cheese bath. Sweet, salty, and just rich enough, this dish struck a homey and tasty note.
Continue reading ‘The Factory Kitchen – Los Angeles (Downtown)’