Before the business portion of my San Francisco jaunt began, I was able to pencil in some family time with my Bay Area-dwelling cousins: Jessica, Andrew, and Michael. I’ve been desiring a dinner at pizza and pasta powerhouse Flour + Water for years now, and all three cousins were game for a whole lotta carbs.
Without advance reservations, our party planned to meet when doors opened at 5:30 PM to avoid waiting for a table. Unfortunately, Cousin Andrew couldn’t escape the grind until past 6, so we were stuck waiting for 2.5 hours (even though we were originally quoted 1.5 hours). It was admittedly a little painful, but we persevered without getting overly peeved.
Bread is available only by request; after our lengthy wait, it was highly necessary! The crusty loaf, with a noticeably doughy interior, was served with grassy olive oil.
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It may have taken a few years for 800 Degrees to make its way to The Eastside after debuting back in 2012 in Westwood Village, but as of last Friday night, the “Chipotle of pizza” is officially slangin’ damn good Neapolitan-style pies in Old Pasadena! Hooray!
800 Degrees was created by Chef Anthony Carron, in partnership with Umami Restaurant Group (Umami Burger, Red Medicine, and Umamicatessen) and Allen Ravert.
The restaurant is housed in an impressive two-story space designed in 1929 by John C. Austin, who was also responsible for Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles City Hall, and the Shrine Auditorium. 800 Degrees fires its pizzas (at 800 degrees, of course!) in a custom Mario Acunto wood-burning brick oven, promising guests “a 125 year-old classic in 60 seconds or less.”
All pizzas are made with Italian “00” flour, fresh mozzarella, imported Italian tomatoes, and extra virgin olive oil.
In addition to pizza pies of all stripes, 800 degrees offers an array of small bites, including an entire section of the menu dedicated to locally made burrata. We thoroughly adored the Prosciutto, melon, and arugula preparation this evening.
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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.
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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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