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)’
When I heard that Pasadena’s La Grande Orange Cafe was opening up a pizzeria next door, I hoped and prayed that it would rival Pizzeria Mozza, or at least Pitfire Pizza. I’ve become something of a pizza gal since my epiphany at Serious Pie in Seattle and thought it would be grand to have one the city’s best pizzerias a stone’s throw away from home.
After giving The Luggage Room a month or so to find its bearings, I came in for dinner along with my friend Ben and his cousin Hyo. Even though reservations weren’t accepted, our party of three managed to score a table straightaway during peak hours on a Friday night. By the way, the restaurant relies on diners to seat themselves, so all empty tables are up for grabs.
Housed in the former luggage room of the historic Santa Fe Train Depot, the pizzeria had a great vibe that fit in nicely with the neighborhood. The space is dominated by a central bar and an open kitchen that showcases the wood-burning oven.
To start, Ben and Hyo insisted on an order of bacon-wrapped dates with goat cheese ($9). The hot little morsels arrived on a wooden slate accented with arugula and shards of Parmesan. My dining companions are bacon-wrapped date connoisseurs and declared these specimens inferior to the ones served at Cobras and Matadors. Their chief complaint was that the bacon wasn’t crisp enough.
I found the bacon-wrapped dates pleasant enough, but then again, I’d probably eat just about anything wrapped in bacon.
Continue reading ‘The Luggage Room Pizzeria – Pasadena’
Following the delightful progressive lunch at Chef José Andrés’ five restaurants, my levelheaded blogging companions headed back to the hotel for a nap and explored Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian. While both of these activities appealed to me on some level, I decided to do the unthinkable.
After meeting up with my cousin Kristine at Dupont Circle, we hightailed it to 2 Amys for pristine pies. Even though my belly was filled nearly to the brim, leaving D.C. without a meal here would’ve been a travesty.
2 Amys serves what is arguably the best pizza in The District. The restaurant is a member of the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, which was established “to protect and promote authentic Neapolitan pizza and defend its Neapolitan origins and traditions.” This means that the restaurant only uses soft-grain flour, fresh yeast, water, and sea salt in its dough, and only Italian plum tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil, and dried oregano for toppings. Furthermore, all pizzas are cooked in a wood-burning oven.
The folks at 2 Amys have been rewarded for their serious pizza making efforts with legions of devoted fans and lots of great press.
We arrived at the restaurant sometime after the Saturday lunch rush and were seated immediately at a table by the window. Kristine insisted that we sample some small bites before diving into pizzas, and I wholeheartedly agreed.
The pork rillettes ($6) arrived in chunk-form, dressed with a bit of olive oil and flaky salt. A few snappy cornichons were served on the side for balance. We slathered the pork onto some bread and savored the creamy fat embedded with shredded meat. Try as I might to stuff more than a bite of this into my system, it was too rich for my current state. My cousin stepped up to the plate and manhandled the decadent plateful of pork.
Continue reading ’2 Amys – Washington D.C.’