Pizza

Jimmys Famous American Tavern - Chipotle Ketchup2Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern, JFAT for short is one of those establishments turning out solid cuisine for a slightly higher price point. With the rapidly eastward growing city of Brea, JFAT is a nice addition to Village at La Floresta. Joining heavyweights like Mendocino Farms, Slapfish, Urban Plates, and Whole Foods, JFAT fits right in. We were lucky enough to get hosted by JFAT and had a chance to try some of their dishes. We also took home a bottle of their chipotle ketchup. No joke, this stuff is really delicious. I’d call it more of a BBQ sauce than a ketchup, and the sauce actually has a nice kick to it. It isn’t too sweet or smokey like a BBQ sauce, and it has some reminiscence of a ketchup. The kick from the chipotle peppers is really pronounced and is good with almost everything they have.

Jimmys Famous American Tavern - Santa Fe Caesar2The Santa Fe Caesar salad was interestingly delicious. I usually like traditional caesars (with sardines and all), but the addition of the grilled corn gave a nice texture. Contrastingly, the avocados gave a nice creaminess. The southwestern flavors really punched up this salad. One thing I would change is the salad presentation. The dressing was on the bottom of the whole stock of Romaine and there wasn’t a lot of it. Either a half cut of the Romaine or more drizzle of the dressing on top and bottom would have helped.

Jimmys Famous American Tavern - Burger2This burger was massive and the flavors worked amazingly. The patty was cooked to a perfect medium. The bacon and onion rings gave a nice smokiness and depth of flavor — Shout out to the Double Western! The best part of this burger was that Anaheim chili. The pepper gave a nice flavor throughout the burger and balanced it out nicely. Honestly, we took some time finishing up other dishes and of course, taking pictures. Even so, the fries were crispy and the burger was juicy after sitting there for some time.

Jimmys Famous American Tavern - Flatbread2The flatbread was quite a treat. The sweetness and saltiness really played well together. The pear and black fig jam made this “pizza” subtly sweet. The sharp blue cheese was needed as it made each bite creamy and funky. My favorite, the prosciutto was nice and salty to flavor the whole thing. The addition of arugula gave a nice rounded flavor to the whole dish.

Jimmys Famous American Tavern - Fried ChickenCould this have been my favorite dish of at JFAT? The buttermilk fried chicken was last of our meal, but not the least. I’d like to have had actual bone in chicken pieces as the filets were kind of boring. What saved this dish was the garlic mashed potatoes and the addition of thyme gravy. The thyme gravy flavored the whole dish perfectly. In hind sight, the dish was missing something — I guess at the time, I didn’t know what it was. I think a nice dab of Louisiana hot sauce would have been a perfect pairing to bring everything together.

Jimmys Famous American Tavern - InsideMy experience at JFAT was an awesome one. The decor was a nice mix of old American tavern with modern accents. The staff was wonderful and the food was spectacular. JFAT is definitely the premiere eatery in the Village at La Floresta center. Their happy hour menu also seems to be something that everyone can enjoy. Their menu changes seasonally, so we definitely would be coming back to see what they have in store.

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I came to Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza during happy hour. The place was empty and the chef was just itching to place a pizza in the oven. I liked the open flow of the restaurant. The open kitchen and friendly staff really put everything together nicely. The place looked casual enough for a small get together and nice enough for a date. My only goal here was to try the pizza and gauge their dough. The “wild” in Wildcraft comes from the sourdough using wild yeast. I was quite excited for this dough.

To start, I had the happy hour salad. It had romaine, mustard vinaigrette, avocado, and dates. Not being a fan of romaine lettuce, except for Caesar salads of course, I wasn’t particularly happy with the lettuce choice. A substitute of arugula or a spring mix would have been better. The mustard vinaigrette though was quite delicious and the addition of avocado was pleasant.


The pizza was spot on. The spicy sausage could have been more plentiful or spread out, but the pizza was still nicely balanced. The crust to me was interesting. The sourdough really came out in the pizza dough. It was chewy yet firm, but needed some work. It didn’t have the air pockets and lacked refinement. It just tasted like sourdough. Don’t get me wrong. I love sourdough. It could possibly be my favorite kind of bread. I’m not too sure if it works well with pizza dough. I guess I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to pizza dough.

Wildcraft just screams wood fire pizza joint. Each pizza is blast cooked in their brick oven. Executive chef Tin Vuong started the mother dough and all of the pizza dough is made from this. To be fair, the pizza dough was better than most, but you can’t stray too far from a traditional pizza dough.

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Themed restaurants are cheesy. Public School is literally a school themed restaurant/gastropub. They have composition notebook lookalike menu and a clipboard with the beer menu. Other than that, the restaurant decor is pretty much like any other. What I don’t get is why the theme? I guess it’s a good thing that the “school” theme isn’t just all in your face. I suppose the little hints of the school theme is fine. They should however have the food speak for itself.

The Cutting Board featured a selection of cured meats and artisan cheese. The cheese included a gouda, swiss, and cheddar. The meats were prosciutto and a chorizo of some kind. I liked the addition of the marcona almonds. It gave the whole experience a nice crunch. Eating the different cheeses with the honey and fruit preserves was delicious as well. Though it came with a large variety of items, I would have liked a more variety of meat or just a larger quantity.

The wild mushroom and taleggio lavash was quite delicious. It was probably my favorite of the night. The extra thin, almost cracker like crust was light and crispy. The mushrooms and the creamy taleggio mixture almost mimicked Campbell’s cream of mushroom. It was savory and rich. The mix of the arugula and parmesan shavings gave it an extra depth of flavor. This pizza like dish was quite delicious.

I am a sucker for anything fried, and of course, calamari is one of my top fried delights. the fiery calamari was exceptionally good here. Using a mixture of flour and cornmeal for the batter, it gave it an extra crunch. Though the crunch from the cornmeal seemed to be a fake “crunch” and would liked it to be more fried to a crisp. Dipping these in the togarashi and ginger aioli gave it a nice zing and spice, but not too spicy. A spicier variation in the sauce would have made this calamari stand out more.

The cauliflower and cheese dish was well received. As an avid cauliflower hater (I blame Yoshinoya), the only way I would eat them is if its fried, or covered in cheese. In this case, the cheese sauce did a good job in making the bland cauliflower edible. The addition of the bacon bits on the side and the bechamel made this a rich dish.

Public School is you everyday bar / eatery. They don’t have the outstanding dishes and selection as the other restaurants. School Food is more of a safe choice — better than most, but still generic. They have locations neatly separated — 310 in Culver City and 805 in Westlake Village. All they need is one near Hollywood and they have LA pretty much covered.

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The build your own pizza fad is he re to stay. An original fan of Pieology ever since it opened in Fullerton, I feel like I was an early adopter of the build your own pizza thing. Pizza Rev in El Segundo seemed to be pretty much the same thing. You choose your dough, sauce, toppings, and they bake it within minutes. Think, Subway, or Chipotle, but with pizza. The fact that you can essentially build your own pizza with anything you want excites me.

I am a lover of anything salty. I was pleased that they had anchovies and all kinds of olives. Capers too! Excuse my excitement, but when you have olives, anchovies, and capers all on the same pizza, it turns into something so salty and delicious. The other toppings from the meats and cheese were fresh as well. The dough was the same as every make your own pizza spot. It was thin, crispy and not really inspired by anything.

The build your own pizza is genius. It’s cheap to make, and it’s relatively quick to make. I’d like to take it even further and have the customer actually make the pizza. Give us a pair of plastic gloves, and let us go at it. That would be interesting. If something like that takes off, I’m using this blog post to copyright that idea. Does that work?

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Greek food is often times overlooked. Everyone goes for Italian, or the all time classic burger, but Greek is always not given a second chance. On a recent trip to Kentro Greek Kitchen, I was surprised by the look and feel of the restaurant. The ordering system is similar to that of Panera Bread. You order first, get your number, then the food comes out. Despite this fast casual concept, the restaurant is elegant and classy all around. From the food and the staff, everything is top notch. Greek food was never overlooked again.


We started things off with the calamari saganaki. Typically a lover of fried calamari, I didn’t mind this one was not. Bathing in a perfect tomoato sauce, the calamari was succulent and tasty. It was cooked just right — soft as can be. The addition of the sharp tasting feta, it was a perfect match. The bread was hearty and a perfect blank slate for the saganaki. This was perfect to get things going.


The Manouri flatbread was probably my favorite. The flatbread had arugula, figs, oregano, attiki honey, and olive oil. The best part of this flatbread is the imported manouri cheese. Manouri, a by-product following the production of feta is a perfect ingredient for this dish. It was light and the flavors were very subtle and a hint of salty. Paired with the very sweet figs and attiki honey, the sweet and savory balance was perfect.


My go to item at Kentro is the lamb sandwich. It is cheap, and you get a hearty meal out of it. The lamb in the sandwich is soft and flavored heavily. The combination of the sweet peppers and bitter arugula make a nice contrast in flavors. The crusty bread soaks up all the ajus and makes for a nice, easy bite of everything in between. The Kentro fries are pretty spot on as well. Peppery and salty, it is a nice sidekick to the near perfect lamb sandwich.


Kentro in Downtown Fullerton is a great place to have Greek food. It is casual, the price is just right, and the decor inside is quite nice. From flatbreads to sandwiches, to pita wraps, they have it all and all of it tastes great. Whenever I am in Fullerton, Kentro is my go-to place.

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Olio Pizzeria – Mushrooms Take Over

by Franklin on April 29, 2014


Pizza has been on my mind lately. I even dream that one day I will have a wood fire oven of my own in my back yard. My house would be small, but the backyard, pool and all will be spot on. “Pizza Party” would have a new meaning. Imagine everyone gets their own personal pizza with their own favorite toppings — perfected by my own dough of course. I’d fire it up in just minutes and the pizzas would come charred and fluffy every time. That is the dream. Pizza has always been a fascination of mine. When I heard Olio Pizzeria on 3rd makes a killer pizza, I had to try it.

Of course I had to get the Wild mushroom pizza with crispy prosciutto. Atop this beautiful pie were fire roasted mushrooms, slow roasted garlic, caramelized onions, and truffled cheese. The mushrooms alone make this pizza hefty. Every bite had a chunk of mushrooms — a mouth full. I appreciated the crispy prosciutto because, well, I love prosciutto, and every pizza needs shrooms and some kind of meat. The cheese was perfectly unctuous and delicious. Although the ingredients were top tier, the crust/dough needed some work. The char on the dough was missing, and the fluffy/chewy balance was just not there. It was a nice texture and had a good consistency though. The dough is the hardest part, and the difference from a good pizza and a spectacular pizza.

Olio was delicious nonetheless. The ingredients were on point and the little spot on the corner has a stance in Los Angeles. I’d say Olio has made a name for themselves as far as Los Angeles pizza goes. Just recently, you can even find Olio Pizzeria inside Grand Central Market in Downtown. Whether you are in West LA, or Downtown LA, you can get your Olio fix.

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After becoming a food blogger, the pizza as I know it changed. I don’t seek the gooiest cheese, cheese stuffed in the crust, overload of 5 kinds of meat, or a snowy layer of parmesan cheese. To me, if I finished the crust, the pizza was good. I can’t count how many crusts were thrown back into the pizza box. Pizza crust is the worst — probably why Pizza Hut and Dominoes has been stuffing them with cheese and sprinkling garlic butter on them. My friends, the dough is the most important part of the pizza.


The dough at Fuoco was quite decent. With flakes of char and crust on the outside, warm chewy center on the inside, this is what a pizza dough should be. Though I expected a little more rise and fluff on the outer crust, the dough with toppings were kept at bay and wafer thin. I wasn’t expecting much from this Downtown Fullerton spot, but I was quite happy with it. The Margherita was classic, and the cheese, though not as fresh as I’d like, was still pretty good. The tomato sauce was impressive, and quite delicious. My Funghi e salsiccia had good mushrooms, but the slices of sauces were uninspiring. Ground pork with spices and lots of fennel would have been perfect!

Fuoco Pizzeria Napoletana has something special. Their dough is better than most, and the toppings are fresh. With a pretty legit brick oven stove, I could only dream of owning one of those bad boys. Tweaking of my own pizza dough is all for nothing without the 500 plus degrees of burning embers. Honestly, it was a good time eating pizza with a knife and fork and enjoying the crust. It sure beats the cheese stuffed crust variation.

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I went to Bestia for my 29th birthday. My fiancé’ asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday. Instead of the boring, but oh so yummy steak house, I wanted something lively, fun, and delicious. I didn’t care about the waiters coming around every second filling the water. I didn’t care about a romantic setting with candles and ambient music in the background. I just wanted the tastiest food possible for my birthday. Bestia in the Art District of Downtown was on my radar. Executive Chef Ori Menashe, former Chef of Angelini Osteria, pumps out regional Italian dishes. He even cures his own meats from 60 different kinds of charcuterie, and he also raises his own yeast for bread. With all of this love and care to do everything himself, the food has to be good. With his pastry chef wife, Genevieve Gregis making desserts, the duo is creating a huge buzz around Los Angeles. I could confidently say, I had one of my best meals of 2013 here.

You order everything first, and the dishes come out as they are prepared. Items are meant to be shared with the table.

We started things off with the grilled beef tongue crostino. I am huge fan of beef tongue. I like the texture of beef tongue that has been cooking for hours and hours. The pure beef flavor is unmatched to any other part of the cow. Sitting on top of a huge slice of bread was a garbanzo bean puree, purslane, pickled eggplant, and salsa verde. The beefy beef tongue and garbanzo bean played well with the picked eggplant and salsa. The purslane did a good job in grounding all the flavors. I felt the dish needed more acidic flavors to it. A chimichurri of some kind or picked onions would have balanced it out better. The pickled eggplant was a nice touch, but wasn’t tart enough. Nonetheless, this was still a great start.

One of my favorites of the night was the pan-seared octopus and calamari salad. The mix of fennel, mixed mushrooms and arugula was the base. Atop was some of the softest and tastiest octopus I ever had. The flavor was so delicate, and the texture was so soft which could only be achieved by using a sous-vide. The aged balsamic gave this dish so much tartness and acidity. The flavors were so lively. In hind sight, this would have been the perfect acidic factor for the beef tongue crostino. Too bad I already munched that up by the time this salad came out.

The roasted marrow bone was quite innovative and different. Most restaurants serve it with a side of toast of crostini. Chef Ori instructs us to mix it within the spinach gnocchetti. This way, it makes a little fatty sauce and coats the pasta completely. Each bite of the gnocchetti was perfect. Chewy and dense, the pasta was coated in bone marrow and salt. The aged balsamic on the marrow bone gave the dish the perfect zing to counteract the rich beef fat. This was one memorable dish.

Pizza is all about the dough, hands down. You can have some of the best ingredients on a pizza, but if your dough sucks, then the pizza suffers. Chef Ori is serious about his pizza dough. I can just talk about the pizza dough for days. I tried many times, trying to make pizza dough from scratch — I can never reach this kind of caliber, especially with an over that doesn’t even get above 400 degrees. It is hard stuff. The pizza dough at Bestia is near perfect. It has a nice chew, it is thin as can be, and there are black char marks like spots on a Dalmatian. To me, this is a sign of a true pizza. I ordered the salsiccia. This had housemade lamb sausage which was ridiculously mellow and flavorful. It also had ricotta, spinach, and breadcrumbs. The size isn’t that bad too. I always hate paying 15 bucks for a personal sized pizza. Theirs was quite large for the price.

It was my birthday, and my fiancé wanted to spoil me. Heck, I myself wanted to spoil me. We went ahead and ordered the spaghetti rustichella. This was their rendition of the sea urchin spaghetti. Mixed with calabrian chile and garlic, the dish had a subtle tinge to it. To me, the squid ink bottarga was the kicker. It gave the dish such a depth of seafood flavor. It was creamy, and full of the ocean’s goodness. Some mentioned that the pasta was too al dente, meaning, it was undercooked. To me, the pasta was cooked exactly al dente and had a nice mouth feel. Perfectly cooked noodles with a creamy sea urchin mixture is heaven. This was a great dish to end on.

Though I was stuffed, it had to end on a sweet note. It was my birthday after all. We ordered the chocolate budino tart. The salted caramel down the middle was good, but I wished there was more. The cacao crust cookie was a great crunch with the smooth budino. The olive oil was a head scratcher though. Nonetheless, it was a great dessert to end all things.

To start off my 29th year in this world with Bestia, I can tell this year will be a good year. From pastas to pizzas and other Italian dishes, Chef Ori is the man to see. With painstaking details from curing his own meat for charcuterie and raising his own yeast, the food is nothing but excellent. It isn’t about the location — Bestia is in the middle of nowhere in Downtown Arts District. They made best of what they have in one location and is pumping out some high quality foods. I wish to come back again soon and see what the chef has in store. Bestia is something to look out for in 2013. It is a beast!

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Mohawk Bend – Echo Park Doing a Complete 180

by Franklin on July 18, 2013

Echo Park is getting there. In the past years, the sub city has been making strides to beautify and clean up the mess. Echo Park in the 80’s and 90’s was terrifying. As a child, I remember visiting my grandparents who lived in Echo Park. Those were some rough memories, but still fun. Today, the remnants of that era still linger, but in a beautiful way. Boutique shops and restaurants popped up all over Echo Park — on Sunset, west of Alvarado at least. One such restaurant, Mohawk Bend is one of many that turned something ugly into something amazing. Owner Tony Yanow turned the 100-year old Vaudeville Theater into what Mohawk Bend is today. For awesome pictures and to learn more about the architecture, check out Freshome. Mohawk Bend is a restaurant and bar that sources everything locally. They appeal to meat eaters like me, to vegans and vegetarians. It opened it’s doors on August 1, 2011, and has been a popular spot of the neighborhood ever since.

A good buddy of mine and co-worker decided to catch happy hour — beer was in order. My buddy, @joeschai had the Victory Golden Monkey, a Philadelphia brew that he is more familiar with. It was full bodied and had a great taste. It made my beer seem like water.

Nachoes were on the happy hour menu and it was a great start. The nachos were quite standard though, and the pico de gallo and guacamole were fresh. I’m glad it didn’t have any chili or beans in it, but the cheese could have been more gooey. I am a fan of more of a cheese sauce than just melted cheddar on my nachos. That way, the cheese won’t harden and make it nearly impossible to enjoy. Other than that though, the nachos were quite nice.

The Buffalo-style Cauliflower was interesting. I felt we were ordering everything standard bar food. Beer, pizza, burger, and nachos? I wanted something to spice up our regular items and this seemed interesting enough. For a guy who hates cauliflower, this was a gamble. The cauliflower was a great blank vessel for the buffalo sauce. The most interesting part of this dish was the vegan “bleu cheese” dressing. Blue cheese was made of some kind of soy cheese. It tasted like plastic blocks, but the dressing itself was good. The dish was salty, zesty and full of flavor — not a bad veggie dish, fit for a vegetarian looking for some buffalo wings.

I appreciate a good pizza with a balance of flavors and textures. This flatbread had an amazing balance. The short rib and blue cheese gave the pizza a rich flavor to it. All was countered by the red onions and greens. The kicker was the smoked grapes. This gave it a nice subtle sweetness that this pizza needed. The balsamic reduction on top finished it off perfectly. The crust was decent — not all that great actually. The toppings helped with masking the shortcomings of the dough.

Every bar, gastropub, whatever you want to call it needs a burger. From all of their selections we opted for the one with bacon, short rib, and cheddar. The beef was nicely seared cooked to a medium. The beef was the star — the pure beef flavor from the patty and short rib shined through the burger. The bacon and everything else seemed like an afterthought. The bun was actually better than I thought. Though a burger isn’t a must order at Mohawk Bend, you wouldn’t be doing wrong by it.

I hate to say this, but the concept and interior design of it all is the most impressive part of Mohawk Bend. For them to have carried out a great interior with all of the amenities in a such a rundown property is amazing. Sorry to say though, the impressive interior is not reflected onto the food as well. Nothing I ate was amazing. The only thing that really stood out was the burger, and maybe their selection of beers. Other than that, their dishes were uninspired and boring. This may be a gem in Echo Park, but in the grand scheme of the City of Los Angeles, they are just “okay.” It was still great to catch up with my friend and coworker. Good company always makes things better.

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I remember whan I was a kid, pizza was my favorite food. When I spoke of pizza as a kid, I meant the every day Dominoes delivery kind of pizza — the kind that my childhood idol, Michaelangelo from TMNT liked. As an adult now, my pizza pallate has evolved into something more. Before, the crust was just an obstacle for the good stuff, also known as the meat and cheese. Now, the crust is most important component for a good pizza. At Pizzeria Mozza, you can have your adult pizza. The crust is uber thin, and the toppings are of the highest quality. Masterfully baked in their woodfire oven, their pizzas are some of the most coveted in Los Angeles.

Pizzeria Mozza is a power house. Not only do you have Nancy Silverton, the bread baking extrodinaire who founded La Brea Bakery, you have Mario Batali in the mix. With the help of restauranteur and tv personality Joe Bastianich, Pizzeria Mozza was bound to thrive. Gourmet pizza nowadays is easier to find in Los Angeles — they are everywhere! Pizzeria Mozza is special and is one of the few who started the gourmet pizza trend in Los Angeles. Backed by the Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton also doesn’t hurt either. Do to it’s popularity, reservations are a must. Luckily, there were a couple of seats available at the bar. I was ready to have my pizza!

Instead of traditional bread, they served grissinis. The crunchy bread sticks in the form of long pencils were a nice light snack before dinner. Having not much flavor and a lot of crunch, it was still fun to munch on these bread sticks.

One of Pizzeria Mozza’s most famous and most expensive pizzas is the squash blossoms pizza. Though I would rarely shell out 20 bucks for a pizza, I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about. At first bite, the mixture of the tomato and burrata was pristine. The tomoato flavor was subtle and the burrata had a gentle milky flavor. Delicate in texture, the burrata was silky smooth. Married with the flavors of the squash blossom, everything came together nicely. Texurally, the dough was perfectly chewy and airy on the inside and crisp on the outside. The squash blossoms roasted in the oven made it light and crisp. This brought out the flavors quite nicely. For a meatless pizza pie, it was pretty dang good.

For my meat fix, I ordered the fennel sausage pizza. Topped with house-made sausage, the subtly sweet yet savory sausage was the star. Pops of fennel really brought out the flavors nicely. The herbiness of the red onions and scallions balanced out the fatty sausage nicely. I don’t quite know if this was better of the two pizzas. The sausage on this was perfect, almost life changing, but the squash blossom pizza as a whole was better. Get both!

To end things, I ordered their butterscotch budino. A play between a sweet and decadent budino and savory rosemary pine nut cookies was teasing the senses. The caramel and butterscotch was quite sweet, but the help of Maldon sea salt helped intensify the taste. The cookies alone were a bit bland and not sweet. The elements of the rosemary in the pine nut cookie and the budino was a match so complex and delicate. This was a beautiful dessert.

Everyone knows that Pizzeria Mozza is the LA standard when it comes to artisinal pizzas. The service is near perfect and the pizzas are exceptional. You have Nancy Silverton for the crust, and Mario Batali, true Italian at heart. With these two, a perfect pizza is bound to be born. The restaurant is casual and well-appointed. Though I only had the pizza there, I’m sure the other items are just as good. As a child, pizza was my favorite food. Now as an adult, Pizzeria Mozza made pizza one of my favorite foods again.

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Italian food used to be my favorite food. With the introduction of sashimi and the all mighty carne asada fries, Italian is a close second? Third? Definitely a top 5 contender of my all time favorite foods, Italian food is one of my loves of food. Osteria La Buca, easily one of the best in Los Angeles, was a fun experience. The food was perfectly done and ingredients tasted as they should — fresh and vibrant. Literally the first ones here for dinner service, I had the whole restaurant to myself. Perfectly timed at just before sunset, with the addition of all window walls and a class ceiling, the pictures came out just as I liked (though I still need a lot of work). I had fun eating the tasty food and taking just as many photos as bites.

We started off with their house made bread. The bread was soft and fluffy. It was a bit single noted, but the marinara helped give it some life. It was simple and all, but a little more texture would have made this perfect.

I absolutely love their calamari fritti. Battered in semolina flour, the outside was crisp and light. Cooked perfectly, the squid inside was tender and had a nice bite. It wasn’t at all chewy or fishy. The flavor was mild and fresh, and the batter shined throughout the dish. Dipping it in the marinara sauce was good, but the lemon aioli was my favorite. The rich aioli and crunchy calamari went well with the hint of lemon and creaminess of the aioli. This definitely hit the spot and should be ordered all the time.

The fried egg pizza was the choice for the pie. Cooked in a high heat oven, the crust was thin and chewy — not perfect, but still delicious. The fried egg in the middle was enough a reason to order this pizza, if not, do it for the smoked prosciutto. Topped with tomatoes and mozzarella, this pizza was classic with a little twist. Topping this was a great amount of arugula. Nearly a salad on top of a pizza, the arugula and prosciutto went perfectly together. The egg, though not helping the dish, was still welcomed. Surely, the crust needed something to sop up, and egg yolk is pretty much the perfect thing.

My all time favorite pasta is carbonara. I love the simplicity of it all with the creamy sauce and salty cheeses and pancetta. Their bucatini carbonara was almost perfect. The sauce was creamy and salty. Topped with an poached egg to finish the sauce, it surely was a creamy pasta. Mascarpone was added to the mix to make everything even creamier. The black pepper was prominent as all carbonara should and the pancetta was crispy and salty. One thing I did not like about the dish was the pasta. I do love an al dente pasta, but this was slightly under cooked. Maybe even just 30 seconds longer in the boiling water would have made this a perfect pasta dish. Other than that, this was and is a house favorite. I saw a guy just walk up to the bar and order a bowl for himself — Nobody to bother him — just him and his bowl of perfect pasta carbonara.

The tiramisu was an afterthought, and overstuffed on pasta and pizza, the dessert had to be taken to go. The cake and cream inside was perfectly balanced and rich. The distinct coffee taste mixed with the cream was the best part. One thing weird about this tiramisu is that it didn’t have a cinnamon layer on top. Though it didn’t add that extra depth in flavor, the basic necessities and pure tiramisu flavors came through to make this dessert order worthy.

Osteria La Buca, once a small, and still a relatively small restaurant has a lot going for it. The inside’s minimalistic design is fresh and comforting. This once, hole in the wall Italian joint bloomed into a modern and trendy destination for “new” Italian food, namely pizzas and pastas. Their flavorful rustic pastas and proper pizzas keep this place busy. Osteria Mamma just down the street stemmed from once head chef “Mamma” and Son. Though they are doing their own thing there, Osteria La buca is pretty much a new restaurant inside and out.

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Ciao Deli – Clams on my Pizza Please

by Franklin on February 19, 2013

I came across Ciao Deli when I was in Newport Beach / Costa Mesa. It was late, I was hungry, and nothing was around. I found Ciao Deli online and noticed they had garlic knots, just like the ones at C & O in LA. For the time being, Ciao Deli had to do. Entering the restaurant, the ambiance was relaxed and casual. Pictures and memorabilia plastered the walls of this small joint.

We started off with the cheese knots. Though they were not as good as the ones in C & O, they were still tasty. The blanket of melted cheese was well received. More like cheesy bread than anything else, it had a nice flavor. Dipping it in the marinara sauce helped bring everything together. The acidity helped balance out the fatty cheese. These were a good start, but the cheese knots were easily forgettable.

I normally don’t order spaghetti at restaurants, of course unless its Spaghetti Factory. I was surprised at myself for ordering this dish. For the most part, I was quite pleased with this dish. The noodles were cooked perfectly and the spaghetti sauce was better than most. The meatballs in this dish made this a perfect pasta dish. It was meaty and delicious, just like a home style spaghetti should be — Simple and delicious.

My favorite of the night was the clam pizza. The picture really doesn’t display the clams, and the picture isn’t lying. There really wasn’t a lot of clams on it. I was expecting the clams to be plenty and meaty, enough to have a good bite to it. Though there wasn’t much, the flavor was all there. It was salty and cheesy, and the crust was thin — a perfect recipe for a pizza. I think clams should always go on pizza.

Writing about this meal, I realize how vegetables and fruits are lacking from my diet. Good think I am juicing here and there. That way I can have more meals like this that consist of bready, cheese, and pasta. I guess the tomatoes in the spaghetti sauce counts as vegetables. Right? In all honesty, this Orange County restaurant made me happy. The food was down to earth and tasted great. They even deliver if you are in the vicinity. Places like this keep food humble — nothing fancy here. It is just good food the way it is supposed to be.

Ciao Deli & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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Having lunch at The Penthouse at The Huntley was a no-brainer. Inside and out, the property is exquisite and fancy. Chic, modern, and clean, the food was almost out shined by the beauty of this property. Typically, I would not choose such a fancy, and such a far place. Fortunately, the Dine LA menu was hard to pass up. Once I entered the roof top property, which should be the “penthouse” of the hotel, I was shocked at the view. from almost every window, you can see the ocean or Los Angeles. Luckily, I was seated at the corner where I had views of Downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. It was such an amazing view as I enjoyed my lunch.

Even though we had reservations, we needed to wait for our table at the bar. It may all be part of the business, but I feel like restaurants make patrons wait at the bar so that we buy overprices drinks. Well, call me a sucker. I was bored and sat at a bar. Naturally, I ordered a cocktail. Not having breakfast made me yearn for some coffee. In hind sight, ordering the coffee liqueur cocktail was a mistake. The coffee taste was there, but the aftertaste of the sour alcohol was not pleasant. I love coffee in the morning, but I like it rich and full bodied with no signs of sourness. To me, sour coffee is a sign of spoilage, and this cocktail being sour was not for me.

We started things off with the young romaine. Chopped romaine dressed with a lemon caper dressing was topped with shaved Parmesan and sourdough crouton. The salad was nothing special, but the lemon caper dressing was better than expected. A bit on the boring side, I was left wanting some color and vibrance from the dish.

The crab cake here is not traditional, only because it is amazing. Most crab cakes are mostly filler — eggs, bread crumbs, veggies, etc. Their was nearly 100% crab meat. Cutting it with the fork, all that was inside was crab meat — no bread crumbs or filler, and not even mayonnaise. Though the breading on the outside didn’t have much of a crunch, the celery salad and remoulade sauce made up for it. Only if all crab cakes had all crab in it, I would order it more often. Theirs was surprisingly as advertised — all crab meat.

For the entree, my choice was the grilled cheese with short rib. This sandwich was full of flavor. The short rib was juicy and flavorful from braising in red wine. The sourdough was toasted to a crisp and a perfect bread choice. The choice of cheese was the best and spoiled me. The chimay grand cru was delicious and creamy, almost a perfect cheese for a sandwich like this.

The fennel sausage pizza was also a favorite. Topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and housemade fennel sausage, the pizza was surprisingly good. The crust to me is the most important factor of a pizza, and theirs was quite nice. Not necessarily the best, but it had a nice chew and aroma. My favorite part of the pizza was the housemade fennel sausage. It wasn’t too salty or oily. It had a nice meety flavor with a lot of aromatic fennel.

Dine LA is all about 3 courses or more. That meant, dessert was part of the plan. I opted for the profiteroles, though I wish I had great remorse. It’s not that it didn’t taste good, it was just that it was uninteresting and the other chocolate sweet savory dessert would have excited me a little more. The profiteroles were filled with a delicious vanilla bean ice cream though, which kind of saved the dish. The best part was the hot fudge sauce drizzle. It all came together to make a tasty dessert.

Their vanilla creme brulee was good, but again, boring. I don’t know how many times I order the creme brulee for dessert, but I always have it. Maybe its the creamy custardy inside or the burnt sugar candy topper. The fruit in their creme brulee was a nice touch. This dessert was boring, and not of any fault of their own. My over stimulated taste buds yearned for something different — I just didn’t order it. Overall though, I was happy with our dessert choices.

Lunch at The Penthouse was a fun experience. Not only was the property amazing, the food was impressive as well. Hanging out at 3rd Street Promenade was a must after lunch. The beach and sun was all an acompaniment to our full bellies. Below is a short video of the elevator ride down. I don’t know what it is about elevator rides, but if it’s got an awesome view, I have to capture it on video. Anytime you are in Santa Monica, you must make a stop at The Huntley. The near 360 degrees of ocean, beach and Los Angeles is hard to pass up.

The Penthouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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A pizza is a pizza is a pizza. Well, we aren’t kids anymore — and we definitely are not in college anymore. We all remember those days, getting the cheapest and biggest pizza possible. As a kid, I always thought, the more toppings a pizza had, the better it was — all the meats, all the veggies. Don’t even get me started on the crust — I didn’t believe in it and I didn’t eat it. Now that I am older and wiser, my take on pizza is a little different. I am all about fine ingredients, and the crust is the main event. Yes, I am talking about Neapolitan pizza, the real stuff.

Neapolitan pizzas are made very simply. The crust is thin, yet tender, as the dough is very fragrant of yeast. Toppings include only the simple ones: garlic, tomatoes, mozzerella cheese, olive oil. You will rarely find a Neopolitan pizza with the works. Traditionally, Neapolitan pizzas are eaten with a knife and fork, hence, they are not sliced into slices. Neapolitan style pizza is what I came for, and that is what I got.

It was happy hour, and the personal sized pizzas were like 5 bucks. A steal in my book. I ordered the Margherita with prosciutto cotta. It had mozzarella, basil, parmigiano reggiano, extra virgin olive oil. At first look, it seems very simple, but this is where the pizza shines. The flavors are perfect and fresh on its own, but together, they make a perfectly flavored pizza. The crust was crispy, yet tender with a nice chew. The mozzarella is actual mozzarella, not the fake partial skim milk you find on all other pizzas. Though the prosciutto cotta was cooked and not from Parma, it was still delicious. I am a fan of prosciutto crudo, the raw kind, but it was still delicious when it was cooked. I made sure to have some basil with every bite — the floral essence gave the pizza a nice rounded out flavor and finished it off nicely.

Settebello makes a nice Napoletana style pizza. Their ingredients are fresh and authentic. Nothing is left for second best. Every pizza is made with care and the taste shows. Their happy hour impressed me, with moderately priced wine and beers available, it was an affordable dinner. The pizza was definitely the star — you can come here and not have a pizza. Along with some of the best and authentic Napoletana style pizzas around, you are eating something worth eating. The bar area as well as the dining area were all very comforting and casual.

Settebello on Urbanspoon

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Secret Pizza / NNPK (Cosmopolitan) – I Play a Game of Hide and Seek with Food

September 14, 2012

Secret Pizza is just what Cosmopolitan is about — Mysterious, a bit of deviant. I mean, where else will you find a pizza joint with no markings or signs of any nature. No Name Pizza Kitchen? Check. This place isn’t even in the resort directory — not on the Cosmopolitan website, nothing! How I came […]

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Village Pizzeria (Larchmont) – NYC Style Pizza from SF to LA

May 23, 2012

Larchmont is a weird, yet charming little area of Los Angeles. The shops and clientele are a bit on the high end. The food choices and shopping choices are all over the place, and even the parking is done not parallel, but facing the sidewalk. One part of Larchmont though is always the same, and […]

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Tomato Pie (Silver Lake) – Thin Crust is an Understatement

May 4, 2012

Tomato Pie, a pizza joint in Hollywood and Silverlake derives its name from, well, tomato pie. Tomato pie is a Sicillian’s take on pizza where the dough is fococia like and thick. It is normally topped with tomato sauce and sprinkled with cheese. Never having tried tomoato pie, Tomato Pie was an obvious choice. The […]

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Petrillo’s Pizza – Classic Pizzeria in the San Gabriel Valley

April 24, 2012

Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, I had a lot of Asian eateries to choose from. Whatever Asian I was in the mood for, nothing was out of reach. Having this luxury had its drawbacks. Anything else, I had to choose from a small group of restaurants — No really good burger joints, gastropubs, […]

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Max Brenner (Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops) – Chocolate Runs Through My Veins

April 1, 2012

Chocolate and chocolate. Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. Chocolate. Everyone loves this stuff. Girls devour it after breakups. Guys say they don’t like chocolate, but secretly love this stuff. I am sure chocolate has some kind of chemical that makes us happy. That is we love it so much. Max Brenner, an Israeli […]

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Todd English’s Olives (Bellagio) – A Little Sweet, A Little Salty, In The Best Way Possible

January 23, 2012

It seems to be that a lot of my favorite restaurants in Vegas converge around the Bellagio Fountain.  I don’t see why not.  The Fountain alone is amazing to have as a background of a great meal. Todd English’s Olives in Bellagio has class and taste, and won’t hurt your wallet.  From the interior design, […]

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