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Hollywood (the greater area)
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Let me digress from my blog for a minute and talk about a place that is not a pizzeria. Though it does have pizza, deep dish and sicilian style.
In Burbank is a genuine Chicago style food eatery. Owned by some celebrities, Joe Mantegna and wife Arlene. I wouldn't call it just a pizza place, because it has so much more. People pack this place in for everything from hotdogs, sausages and ribs to stuffed shells and meatballs. I went in at 11:30 and there were already a couple tables filled, by 12 this place didn't have one table open. I then knew that people had a special spot in their heart for this place.
Speaking of hearts, they have a Sicilian heart-shaped pizza, how awesome is that!
Now I have never been to Chicago and really know nothing about their food. So I can't really tell you much. But it seems to me that the signature thing here, that people come from all over to get, are the sandwiches. The warm roast beef or the Italian sausage sandwich which both come with hot or sweet peppers and are dripping with wet flavorful juices. They are amazing. On another day in the morning I ate the sweet peppers and egg sandwich. Which was also delicious. It was loaded with the biggest slices of peppers I've seen, mixed with the egg and all on a big, soft doughy roll.
Now to the pizza. The first time around I got a slice of the thick Sicilian pizza. It was 4.35 for a slice, which defeats the purpose of ordering it. Like a po' boy, it is supposed to be good food for cheap. However, the size of this pizza slice was gargantuan, so maybe they make up for it.
Again, I don't know how they do it in Chicago, and I am really not all that familiar with Sicilian slices. To me this pizza wasn't your proper Sicilian slice. The crust was thicker in girth but not as thick as I have usually seen. The dough was a thicker cake like consistency, very buttery and flakey on the outside. Very similar in fact to what they use for their deep dish style crust. The sauce and cheese were put on heavy and were pretty low grade tasting, especially the cheese. I ate it but I would not get it again. This slice worried me about getting the Deep Dish.
The next time I went back though, my worries had been forgotten and I bellied up and ordered the deep dish. Between the other 3 people I was with, we ordered a lot of food, so we just got the plain cheese deep dish pizza. It is expensive, 23 dollars for what is about, I'd say a 16 inch pizza, but of course it's much thicker that a NY style pizza. Right away I was disappointed. I could see there was very little sauce on the pizza, especially compared to the several pounds of cheese. The sauce was lightly spread out over top of the cheese but not under it. The crust was the same as the Sicilian slice, as I figured it'd be. It had high edges from the deep pan it was in but the crust itself was only a half inch thick at most. The cheese dominated everything. When you pulled out a slice from the whole pie, the excess cheese from the slices next to it ran down like molten lava into the empty space, connecting in the middle and filling the space completely to form a whole new slice, made completely of cheese. It was NOT a pretty sight. I like cheese as I have said many times, I like a generous amount. But this cheese was not of high quality, it did not have good flavor, and there was just not nearly enough tomato sauce to give a proper balance. I managed to shove two thick cheese slices into my stomach, one more and I would have been the first person to overdose on cheese. Two slices just put me in a cheese coma. It really was just a gross amount of cheese. The pizza came down to just eating plain bread with plain cheese. There was not enough sauce to really even talk about. It was unappetizing, uninspiring, and really just inedible.
I don't know what good deep dish pizza is but I hope to God this wasn't it, otherwise Chicago is living in a fantasy world if they think their style of pizza is better than the thin crust.
The rest of the food seems pretty great though, and if you like Chicago food, I would urge you to try it out, get the sausage or the beef, order two of them, you will love it.
Just, for the love of God do not eat the deep dish pizza, unless you want to have a heart attack on the worst meal of your life.
603 North Hollywood Way Burbank 91505
Posted by JAB at 2:01 PM
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I don't make it to Pasadena very often but I was there the other day and I took advantage of a place I had heard about called Avanti Cafe. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera but I'll try and paint you a picture.
It is on the corner and has a big sign hanging over the door boasting wood fired gourmet pizza. So I of course had to see what it was all about. I wish having a wood fired oven meant the pizza was going to be a cut above the rest, but just using a wood fire oven isn't going to guarantee good pizza. When I walked in I didn't see the wood fire oven, my eyes went straight to a set of electric ovens. This threw me off at first, but when I turned around I saw the giant wood fired oven, I don't know how I missed it. It kind of blends in with the wall to my defense.
This place had many different styles and topping combinations. Many of which were on display for slices to go. The most interesting to me was the Glazed Apple (glazed sliced apples, garlic, red peppers, gorgonzola, leeks and almonds) I of course didn't get this one, I kind of got confused and ordered the wrong way (it was raining, so my mind was frazzled).
So first I ordered a large cheese pizza, which was 16 inches, they have 2 smaller sizes 12 and 9, I think. Then I realized what I was getting was not the wood fired pizza, it was the regular pizza, that they cook in a regular oven. Why when you have a wood fired oven, would you cook pizza in a deck oven, I don't know. Anyway, on the other side of the menu is a list of what they call their gourmet pizzas, which are all wood fired. They only serve the 12 and 9 inch pizzas here. Because he already rung me up for the regular pizza and I really wanted the wood fired pizza he helped me choose a pizza similar in price on the wood fired side of the menu since I clearly was having problems. I didn't want to be disagreeable at this point so I went with what he recommended which was the Wood Burned Delight. It was 16 dollars, compared to a regular pizza of the same size for 11, though the large is 14.
The Wood Burned Delight was tomato sauce, pepperoni, green and red peppers, onions, black olives and a ricotta cheese mixed with mozzarella. I asked for the olives to be taken off. The only thing I hate worse than mushrooms are olives.
It was pretty decent. The crust wasn't as crispy as I had hoped. The bottom was still kind of doughy and the outer edge had a crunch to it but was dense and very buttery tasting. It wasn't the best crust I've had, I feel like their wood burning oven is going to waste a little. It had a slightly subtle wood flavor, though that might have been in my head. Mainly the butter flavor of the dough turned me off. I had a cheese slice of the regular pie while I waited and the crust didn't seem all that different, though they did warm it up in the wood oven. The regular pie crust was a little flatter and doughy-er. So I guess the wood burning help raise the crust and make it slightly less dense than it was and slightly crispier than it could have been but really I thought the crust just wasn't anything to rave about. The rest of the pizza was good, well above average. The topping worked well together, there was the right amount of everything, including cheese and sauce. The peppers and onions were under the cheese. The sauce was not really on the sweet side, it had a lot of flavor and spices throughout it. It was light and fresh tasting, not like heavier pasta sauce. The cheese was my favorite. It had a light covering of mozzarella, but underneath there was a mix of ricotta. Mixed into the sauce and cheese. It really gave the pizza an extra flavor boost, a creamier rich flavor, but not over powering.
Probably a couple dollars more than I would want to spend, definitely this is a place to go for the respect it gives to interesting toppings. Though other than the apple one not completely original, but still exciting. The wood fired oven takes the pizza from a 2.5 to a very generous 3. Though if they had the right dough, this could be a easy 4 or higher.
111 N. Lake Ave Pasadena
626 577 4688
Posted by JAB at 9:18 PM
Saturday, January 16, 2010
This is a little slice pizza parlor on Ocean Park in Santa Monica. They have a little of everything there it seems. Down the road is Pizza Fusion, so if you live in this area those are basically your options.
I just had a slice from here because I was on my way to get other pizza elsewhere. Which might have been a mistake because the slices in the little rotating box didnt looks so good or fresh, ironically.
I ordered once cheese slice, he warmed it up and as a result the crust was pretty crispy which was good. The cheese slice was 3 dollars maybe. You can get 2 slices and a soda for 5.95. A large 18'' cheese pie is $14, not bad.
Here is the slice:
It tastes just slightly better than it looks. It is New York style like advertised. Thin and crispy crust. A slightly sweet sauce with lots of oregano and other spices. The cheese was o.k., a little oily perhaps. Overall it was pretty typical pizza, nothing fancy or over the top. It was just plain old pizza that will satisfy but not necessarily make you come crying back for more.
If your only other option is Pizza Fusion or Dominos I think it will not be a hard choice. All are distinctly different pizzas, different range of quality and a different price to match. I myself, would go with Ocean Park Pizza.
Ocean Park Pizza
2819 1/2 Ocean Park Blvd. Santa Monica
Posted by JAB at 7:25 PM
I remember a day when a food truck meant tacos. Taco Hunt.com But lately there has been a flooding of food trucks all over, from Korean BBQ to grilled cheese and now of course pizza too. It all amounts to just more traffic on the highways. It is actually hard to go driving around and not see one. Maybe a food truck will make me something while we are sitting in traffic on the freeway together, now that'd be something great.
Anyway I could be writing a review of the new slice truck, but I can't ever track the thing down. Wherever I am it seems to be in the opposite direction. Don't worry I won't quit.
Till then here is an interesting article on the Slice Trucks Blog that talks about the geometry of it's pizza and pizza in general.
Posted by JAB at 7:00 PM
Friday, January 15, 2010
There is a lotta hype about this place. Locals love it and pizza fanatics rave about it. Not to be confused with another Bravo pizza chain in Los Angeles that may not even exist anymore.
The place is pretty cool with outside seating, a great selection of food, pizza by the slice and of course their wonderful desert. Most importantly being the cannolis, which are straight from Ferrara Cafe, one of the best pastry and coffee houses in Little Italy, New York. They have the best, hands down cannolis in the country. Filling and shell put together per order. Bravo Pizza is not just a seller of the Ferrara's cannoli, but a part of Ferrara's itself, being shared by the same set of owners, along with a Italian restaurant called Bravo Cucina.
Now all that being said lets get to the pizza. They have two sizes; a large 18'' and a small 12''. I didn't really want the small so I had to go big. One large 18'' cheese pie for 20 bucks. This is a little on the pricey side but they have a lot of good coupons for buying one pizza and getting another for free or half off.
The pizza looked pretty delicious. The slices were massive, flopping about as I ate them dripping with grease and oozing of cheese. There was a healthy amount of both sauce and cheese on this pie. With the super thin, middle of the crust and the not-so-crispy and tough bottom it made for a messy meal. The first flavor and pretty much the only flavor to consume your taste buds as you eat a slice is the tomato sauce. It has a resonating sweet and savory taste. Slightly spiced, fresh and sweet. I really liked it, though I prefer a sauce that is more naturally sweet, I felt this had a bit of sugar added. This was the defining characteristic of this pie and really the best quality too. The cheese was decent, it tasted fresh enough.
The crust was the main downfall for me. The consistency seemed wrong. It was dense and cake-y. Rich and heavy. Other than a light golden covering on top it wasn't all that crispy or chewy. I found it hard to finish the ends of each slice, just too much bread-y and bland mouthfuls.
The sauce was good enough to make it noteworthy, but the crust just ruined it for me. To me the crust is responsible for the overall satisfaction of the pizza. This obviously is once again my opinion. If you like a thicker cake-ier consistency then you might like this one.
Oh and by the way they are open late, and that is great. No matter what the pizza tastes like.
2400 Main St. Santa Monica
Posted by JAB at 2:36 PM