Archive for the 'Italian' Category

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Chain Reaction: Battle of Los Angeles’ Fast-Casual Margherita Pizzas

pizza collage

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.

PizzaRev - Pasadena

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.

Blaze - Pasadena

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.

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Love & Salt – Los Angeles (Manhattan Beach)

Love & Salt - Manhattan Beach

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.

Love & Salt - Manhattan Beach

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).

Love & Salt - Manhattan Beach

The restaurant, by the way, is named for the team’s philosophy that great food needs only love and salt. True that.

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{swoon} Baby Clam Pizza at Mother Dough

Mother Dough - Los Feliz - Los Angeles

I tasted Mother Dough‘s “Baby Clam” pizza ($17) for the first time last spring while on a lady date with Diana. It was one of the evening’s specials, and though we had our eyes set on other pies, we knew that this one had to be ours as soon as the waiter finished giving us the rundown. Since then, the pizza’s popularity has propelled it from limited time offering to menu mainstay. And that’s where it should remain.

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Alimento – Los Angeles (Silver Lake)

Alimento - Silver Lake - Los Angeles

Was it just me or did this past summer drag on forever? With 2014 on track to be the warmest year on record for Los Angeles, I was starting to lose hope that we’d ever see fall and winter this year. Fortunately, it’s been cooling down in recent weeks (by SoCal standards, I mean), and there’s even rain in the forecast!

With temperatures finally and consistently dipping below 80 degrees, it’s high time to indulge in comfort fare. Hello, Alimento.

Alimento - Silver Lake - Los Angeles

Chef Zach Pollack opened Alimento this past June in Silver Lake after years behind the stove with Chef Steve Samson at Sotto. Whereas Sotto focused on Southern Italian fare, the food here is inspired by Northern Italian cuisine. The menu is divided into three sections: Plates, Pastas, and Platters.

Alimento - Silver Lake - Los Angeles

The Astronomer and I were joined by our friend Stassi for dinner this evening. Between the three of us, we shared four “Plates,” two “Pastas,” and a dessert.

The first Plate to hit the table was the chicken liver pate served with house made bread, coarse salt, and quince mostarda ($10). This dish was adored by all and was as delicious as it was beautiful.

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