Pizza dates are the best. Whether with a friend or lover, a feast of pies all but guarantees a hearty spread, fair prices, and best of all, leftovers for breakfast.
The Astronomer and I headed to Stella Rossa Pizza Bar in Santa Monica for our latest pizza date. Though barely six months old, the restaurant has made quite an impact on the city’s pizza scene. In fact, one old school restaurant critic even declared Stella’s pizzas some of the best in the world.
The restaurant’s open kitchen is headed by Chef Jeff Mahin, a Cal grad who’s worked in some mighty fine kitchens including L2O, The Fat Duck, Nobu, and Arzak.
The key to Stella’s stellar pizzas is the dough. Made from milled flour from the San Joaquin Valley, filtered water, sea salt, and fresh yeast, the dough rests and ferments for thirty hours in special jars.
To start, The Astronomer and I shared the prosciutto plate ($12.95) from the “For the Table” section of the menu. Pork products from La Quercia never fail to make me weak in the knees, and these silky slices of prosciutto rossa were no exception. The Astronomer and I were also taken by the amazing house-made bead dipped in Olave olive oil from Chile. All in all, this was a killer starter.
Continue reading ‘Stella Barra Pizzeria – Los Angeles (Santa Monica)’
Following lunch at La Super Rica in Santa Barbara, The Astronomer and I high-tailed it up the coast to Solvang, where we met up with our friend Lang. We spent the afternoon and early evening exploring the local sights, which meant gawking at windmills, sampling locally produced wines, and poking our noses into Danish bakeries. Even though the town was mostly a tourist trap, it had a certain charm that couldn’t be denied.
When dinnertime rolled around, we drove a little further north to Los Alamos for a feast at Full of Life Flatbread. The restaurant, which produces frozen pizzas Monday through Friday, is only open to the public on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings for dinner. We arrived a little on the later side of service and avoided a lengthy wait, which I hear is the norm.
Full of Life Flatbread is committed to making everything it serves from scratch using seasonal and local ingredients. The restaurant’s owner, Clark Staub, and Chef de Cuisine, Brian Collins, draw inspiration for their weekend menu by visiting farmers markets and working closely with local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen.
To kick off our meal, Lang chose a beet salad ($11) from the specials menu for our party of three to share. The “smashed” red and gold beets were served with Happy Acres Farm Goat Cheese, arugula, and crispy leeks. The salad was simple, light, and bright.
Continue reading ‘Full of Life Flatbread – Los Alamos’
Following lunch at Homeroom, The Astronomer and I tucked into a nearby coffee shop for a hit of caffeine and Internet time. It was horribly wet and gray out, so we ended up spending the entire afternoon hunched over our laptops rather than re-exploring my old ‘hood. When dinner time rolled around, we met up with our friends Maria and Jessica at Pizzaiolo. We hadn’t seen these gals since our wedding last April, so we had oodles to catch up on.
Ever since I fell head over heels in love with pizza last spring in Seattle, I’ve been making a conscious effort to seek out amazing pies in every city that I visit. Charlie Hallowell opened Pizzaiolo in 2005, and it has since become one of the best pizzerias in the greater Bay Area. Chef Hallowell, who spent eight years in the kitchen of Chez Panisse, offers a menu driven by locally grown, organic, and seasonal meat and produce. The offerings change daily based on what’s pristine and inspiring.
While waiting for our pals to arrive, I sipped on a citrusy cocktail ($10), while The Astronomer had a beer. How gender appropriate of us.
Continue reading ‘Pizzaiolo – Oakland’
It used to be that the monthly trips I took to see my family in San Diego provided a breather from my food-centric world in Los Angeles. Lately, however, I’ve grown more interested in seeking out my hometown’s latest and greatest bites in between home cooked meals at mom’s and grandma’s. I owe much of my newfound excitement for San Diego’s dining scene to Erin Jackson, a Serious Eats writer covering the city’s edible beat.
Her recommendations have brought me to Hodad’s for its gluttonous double bacon cheeseburger, to Crest Cafe for its heart-stoppingly good butter-stuffed burger, and most recently, to Pizzeria Bruno Napoletano for standout Neopolitan-style pies.
Family owned and operated, Pizzeria Bruno opened in North Park in 2009. The restaurant’s centerpiece is a domed, wood-fired brick oven custom built in Naples, whose temperature can reach more than 900 degrees. The oven is manned by a VPN-certified pizzaiolo named Peter.
Joining me for dinner was The Astronomer, my mom, and my grandma. Having Bà Ngoại‘s colorful commentary and hearty appetite at the table made this meal especially memorable.
My mom chose the market salad ($8) for us to share as an appetizer. It was comprised of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, and olives dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette and topped with Parmigiano Reggiano. The Astronomer and I hardly ever order salads when we go out, so it was nice having Mom around to make sure that we got a serving of healthy greens before gorging on decadent pies. Thanks, Mom.
Continue reading ‘Pizzeria Bruno Napoletano – San Diego (North Park)’