Category Archives: Pizza

Settebello: Authentic Pizza Napoletana in Pasadena

Yes, you read that right. Pasadena. The once shining beacon of boutiques, Bullock’s and Hugo Molina that is now more closely associated with chain behemoth Cheesecake Factory and why-are-they-still-in-business mainstay Mi Piace. To be fair, Settebello isn’t located in Old Town- it’s just east of the main drag, in a section that includes the newly-opened Tender Greens and one of the last few non-virtual bookstores, Vroman’s. Could this segment of Colorado become the new, cooler Old Town? I’ve cast my vote. Continue reading

Quick Bites: Potato Pizza, Stuffed Sweet Peppers, Spinach With Garlic

Happy Tuesday everyone (wait, are Tuesdays happy?  I guess it doesn’t have the same ring as “TGIF!”)! I have quite a bit to do today but I wanted to post a quick update on a meal I whipped up for my family last week.  Not unusually, I found myself inspired once again by the bounty at the Farmer’s Market (this time in Santa Monica) so I let the beautiful produce be the star of the show.

There have been some incredible baby fingerling potatoes at the markets lately, and they come in a variety of pretty colors.  I picked up some pink ones but you can’t really see the colors in these photos, unfortunately.  I bet some of you are thinking, “potato pizza??” but let me assure you that the creaminess of these fingerlings go so well with a crispy, whole-wheat crust, and all it needs is a smear of herbed cream cheese and a grating of sharp parmesan to bring it all together.  A drizzle of homemade pesto and some fresh rosemary never hurt anything either:). It’s a carb-lovers dream come true, I tell ya!

Bloomsdale spinach sauteed with garlic and olive oil:

Beautiful sweet mini-peppers stuffed with jalapeno/cilantro chicken sausage and roasted- such a simple dish but SO good!

What’s been your favorite Farmer’s Market purchase this season?

Mother Dough, Los Feliz

The second I read about a new, wood-fired pizza place opening up in Los Feliz, I bookmarked the page and made a mental note to get there as soon as possible.  First of all- the name of the restaurant- Mother Dough- just grabbed me.  You see, the dough is- by far- the most important element of any pizza (to me, at least!) and after reading about how their recipe was sourdough-based, I knew we had to try it.  J LIVES for sourdough and he also loves a good, thin crust pizza, so there was no question- we were going.

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When Inspiration Strikes...

Last week felt like it lasted an eternity and I was looking forward to just having some wine and dinner out after work Friday. That changed when J texted me in the afternoon saying our friend was coming to dinner, so I found myself clicking through Food Gawker trying to find some inspiration. I’d pretty much decided on making a baked pasta dish, only because I had a batch of homemade marinara in the freezer I could use and I knew I didn’t have a lot of time. I wasn’t exactly sold on the idea but couldn’t think of anything else. After making a shopping list I headed out of work and off to Whole Foods.
On the way there I was finally hit with a wave of inspiration after remembering some beautiful heirloom potatoes I’d purchased a couple of days before. They were baby, fingerling-like ones that came in several different colors- deep purple, pink, blush…and I knew I wanted to make something using those.
Luckily Whole Foods still had them, so I tossed the baked pasta idea out and a dinner started to take shape. After grabbing a tub of Boursin cheese, a ball of pizza dough from the Whole Foods chef and some marinated seafood anitpasti, I was off.
Here’s what we ended up having last night:

Marinated mussels and marinated octopus with green olives, which I purchased.

Spicy Genoa salami

Roasted carrots drizzled seasoned with garlic, drizzled with lemon juice & olive oil and finished with cilantro.

The result of the inspiration: a potato pizza which was so easy to put together. I just pressed the pizza dough into a baking sheet, brushed with olive oil and then smeared with Boursin cheese. Topped with thinly sliced potatoes, red onion, fresh rosemary and Italian parsley, it was really delicious!

This was the thing that I did spend some time on, but it didn’t take too long. I had some beautiful blood oranges from my parents’ tree so I layered them with some sugar and butter into a simple galette crust made from flour, sour cream, butter, ice water and lemon juice.

I especially loved the colors of the meal and I am really looking forward to the spring and summer produce at the local farmer’s markets for more inspiration!
Hope you give this potato pizza a try sometime!

Pizzeria Luigi, San Diego, CA
My name is Tuna Toast and I’m a DDD addict.

No, DDD isn’t some new drug or booze- it’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, AKA “Triple D” on the Food Network. I guess I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but damn if there isn’t a more prime example of a mouthwatering show on television today. If Foodgawker and Tastespotting are food porn, then DDD is the Debbie Does Dallas of food. The fact that both have the same acronym isn’t a coincidence, me thinks.

“That’s just like jumbotron-mega-cheesy-oozy-woozy-delciousness that would taste good on my slipper!”

I’ll admit that host Guy Fieri’s “Guy-isms” (that’s my word, not theirs) get a little grating at times. His favorites include, “This ain’t my first rodeo,” and “I’ve tasted plenty of (fill in the blank) and this rates as some of the best I’ve had. Seriously.” However, the annoying ones are nicely balanced by ones that actually do make me laugh, like “Love, peace and taco grease” and, let’s face it, Mr. Fieri is hardly the star of the show. Beautiful close-ups of thick bbq’d ribs, cheeseburgers oozing thousand island dressing and fried belly clams dipped in tartar sauce are the reason why people like me watch it every week. Talk about drool-inducing. Wowza.

The ‘if-you-take-a-picture-of-me-I’ll-kill-you’ look. Luckily, I survived.

Part of the reason I’m so enamored of the show is because it focuses on foods that only rarely make it into my repertoire. In an alternate universe I could eat piles of onion rings, fried oyster po’ boys and duck confit egg rolls on a daily basis and not have a care in the world, but alas, I currently reside in THIS universe and no amount of treadmilling would allow me to eat that way and not gain a few hundred pounds. So I watch, far away from the lovely smells undoubtedly wafting up from the well-seasoned grills and vats of gravy that appear on the show each week, and only dream of actually going to one of the places featured……until now!

Yes, my sister and I, after many, MANY conversations of one day hitting one of our favorite DDD places, finally had the chance last weekend when we took a short trip to San Diego. We’d seen Pizzeria Luigi on one episode and knew we wanted to try the New York-style, thin-crust pizzas. The fact that Luigi looks like an Italian movie star didn’t hurt, either. After spending over three hours on the road, the last hour of it being stuck in traffic, we drove straight there to nosh before checking into our hotel.

The little shop looked exactly as it did on TV, but alas, Italian Stallion Luigi must have had the day off….*le sigh.* We looked over the pizzas displayed in the window and decided to share three slices- one plain cheese, an artichoke/marinara and an all-meat containing both sausage and pepperoni. The guy behind the counter quickly slid the three slices onto a pan, stuck it in the oven for what seemed like 30 seconds and handed us each slice on a separate plate. We were ready for our first, real-life DDD experience!

The verdict? To be totally honest, we felt we would have gotten a better representation of the famous pizza had we ordered a whole pie, made to order. Of course that’s common sense, but since there were only two of us and we were in town for just two days, it didn’t seem very practical. That said, the plain cheese was our hands-down favorite, and the tomato sauce on both that and the artichoke pizza was delicious. The meat slice was just ok- the bottom was warmed but they didn’t keep it in the oven long enough to properly heat through the toppings. The crust on all three was crisp in the right places, with a nice chewy texture in the middle and a wonderful, yeasty flavor. Excellent dough, for sure.

I’m not sure when we’ll be back in San Diego, but next time we’ll definitely order an entire pizza. We were happy to finally fulfill one DDD dream, and although the list of DDD eateries is a long and storied one, I’m happy to have checked at least one location off my list. On to the next!

Pizzeria Luigi
1137 25th St
San Diego, CA.

Lil’ Parlor Pizzeria, South Pasadena

[Taking a short break from the South America posts for a minute as there are a million photos to sort through. I should have some more posts up soon!]

I’ll be totally honest and say I’ve never been a fan of Steven Arroyo’s restaurants. I never “got” Cobras & Matadors after several trips there, and my two visits to his South Pasadena wine bar 750 ml never did it for me either. I haven’t heard a lot of positive things about his downtown place, Church and State, so I thought maybe it best for me to stay away from that one as well.

So why did I try Lil’ Parlor Pizzeria, the new pizzeria opened in the old 750 ml space by this very same restaurateur? There is no real thin-crust, wood-fired pizza in my neighborhood, and the 7 minute drive from my door to the South Pasadena restaurant made it easy to at least give the place a shot. Other than sushi, Italian is my favorite food on the planet; thin crust, lightly dressed pizzas are near the top of that list along with a pile of al dente parpadelle clinging to some sort of slowly braised ragu.

J, my friend Ikea (not his real name but it’s a nod to his Swedish heritage) and I strolled in at around 7:30 PM on Friday night. We were warmly greeted and I immediately noticed the giant leg of prosciutto that sat on the counter, ready for me to dive into. Ok, maybe it wasn’t waiting for me but it was a good sign that maybe, just maybe Steven and I have a future together (as restaurateur and customer, of course).

We sat down, placed our orders and the wine was quickly brought to the table. Although J’s glass was filled well to the middle with his white wine, my glass was filled less than a third. Ikea suggested I take a sip, look at the waiter and say “Mmm, good, I’ll take this one!” and then give the glass back as if I was simply given a taste and that I wanted more. Although the idea was appealing, I figured I’d just sit this one out and hope that my next glass was more half full than half empty.

Appetizers: J ordered the heirloom tomatoes w/ burrata, and although I thought it a bit late in the year for the tomatoes I didn’t say anything. I should have. Look, you can spread burrata on a rusty iron and it’d still be divine. But even the rich creamy heavenliness that is burrata couldn’t save the grainy, bland heirlooms. We left most of it untouched.

Ikea fared far better with his baked ricotta w/ peppernata, aged balsamic and olive oil. The slab of baked ricotta was extremely mild and could have used some salt, and although J dubbed it as “tofu,” Ikea seemed happy with his choice.

I ordered the charcuterie plate – a nice selection of salami and prosciutto plus some pepperoncinis, olives and cheese. Very good, nice portion and nice selection.

Now for the pizzas:

Ikea went for the “Old School,” a pizza topped with pepperoni, tomato sauce, mozzarella and oregano. He deemed it delicious and thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

J was the real winner here- his “The Woods” pizza looked so bare upon first glance that I was worried, but powerful flavors coming out of the fresh chanterelles, smoked onions, fontina and rosemary were unbelievable. We kept looking at it, then tasting it, just wondering how such minimal toppings could pack such a punch. Truly delicious. I’m craving one as I type this actually.

I, unfortunately, lost the pizza battle with my Margherita pie. The “roasted tomato sauce” was bland and as grainy (oddly!) as those heirlooms and there was barely a smidge of mozzarella. Yeah, I know, I said I liked minimal toppings but, in the words of Oliver Twist, “Please sir, may I have some more cheese?” (minus the cheese part). Luckily I had some of the prosciutto and these incredibly sweet peppers left from my charcuterie plate so I doctored it up and it was fine.

I have to say, even though it was a hit and miss, I’d definitely go back to Lil’ Parlor Pizzeria. The crust is the key- it’s tasty, it’s perfectly thin, it’s beautifully crusty without being too hard and the yeasty flavor of good bread runs deep. As always, I’d take into consideration that the restaurant is still fine tuning since they’d been opened less than a week when we went. All things considered, the pies are good and that’s what I want- a good pizza place near my house. I hope the margherita gets a little better and they stop serving mealy tomatoes, but that mushroom pizza alone is worth making the seven minute drive for……….heck, it’s worth making an hour drive for. Oh, and my second glass of wine was indeed more of the “half-full” variety.

Lil’ Parlor Pizzeria
966 Mission St,
South Pasadena, CA