800 Degrees in Old Town Pasadena

DSC_0208I was so excited to see a line of people eager to try 800 Degrees pizza last week. Co-owner Allen Ravert greeted me inside and showed off the interior decor. All of his Umami Group restaurants have chandeliers, an animal head (usually found in consignment stores in Palm Springs), unique wall colors and mirrors. 800 Degrees in Pasadena doesn’t disappoint.

Located in a historic building on the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Fair Oaks, it’s designed by John C. Austin, the architect who designed Griffith Park Observatory and the Los Angeles City Hall. Ravert took me into the ordering area and had me admire a beautiful mural on the wall. “As we removed the drywall, we discovered this  beautiful mural from famed Pasadena artist Kenton Nelson,” Ravert said. “It’s now restored to its original beauty and located in the ordering room.” Ravert is talking to Nelson about putting up more artwork in the dining area.

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Executive Chef Anthony Carron and Allen Ravert

The Umami Group, Adam Fleischman and Allen Ravert, met Executive Chef Anthony Carron in Las Vegas years ago and discussed creating a new concept in pizza that would change the pizza world. Fleischman had so much success with his Umami Burger and believed pizza offers that same satisfying Umami experience.

Carron created a menu of pizzas that could be assembled and baked in less than two minutes. They opened their first 800 Degrees in 2011 in Westwood, near UCLA and became an instant success. Soon after, fast-concept pizza restaurants opened soon all over Southern California.

800 Degrees enjoyed the Westwood community and opened in Santa Monica. They also believed it’s an ideal concept at LAX for travelers to order quickly and take a meal to enjoy during their flight, so they opened at LAX. Then Vegas called, and they opened in Las Vegas at the Monte Carlo Resort.

What makes this pizza so tasty? Carron perfected the crust made in-house from only Italian flour, wild yeast, sea salt and filtered water. He purchases the freshest ingredients to create classic Neapolitan pizza. Naturally grown California tomatoes, and cheese from Di Stefano by the Bruno Family, known for their amazing Burrata cheese.

They also make classic salads that include a Gorgonzola, Caesar and a “Create Your Own. Their Burrata is served with beets with balsamic, cherry tomatoes with pesto, artichokes, olives and prosciutto with melon.terrific wood-oven meatballs baked with tomato, oregano and Parmigiano.

There is truffle cheese bread and wood-roasted broccolini with garlic, Calabrian chiles and olive oil.

DSC_0219You tell your personal chef the ingredients you want on your pizza and he/she will assemble it, pop it in the 800 degree oven and hand it to you within one minute. It’s easy to walk out satisfied for less than $10 per person.

They have other 800 Degrees planned to open soon at Downtown LA – 800 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Another in Las Vegas – SLS Hotel and Casino – 2780 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109 and The Runway at Playa Vista – 12751 Millennium, Suite #B135, Playa Vista, CA.

To learn more, go to – http://www.800degreespizza.com

Pet Friendly Yountville

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Yountville is famous for Napa Valley wines, Michelin star-studded dining, amazing artwork & luxurious resorts to relax, unwind and enjoy being pampered. It’s also a terrific pet-friendly destination

Summer Parade with Dogs

Yountville loves our furry friends. The charming one street town leaves a welcome mat or Fido, Ginger and Butch, and a water bowl too.

It’s the only Wine Country town with a winery (Jessup Cellars) that hosts a summertime fashion parade for the best-dressed dogs. They call it their Dress to the K-Nines Stroll.

Located in the middle of town, guests can sip wine at the wine bar or relax with a sit-down, wine tasting in the spacious art gallery.

The owners of Jessup Cellars are three families in the healthcare profession. They give back to the community by hosting special events such as Dress to the Vines weekends and Art House Sessions.

Jessup’s winemaker Rob Lloyd is an expert at the art of blending. Try his 2011 Zinfandel. It’s bright with big fruit flavors and a pleasing finish. 6740 Washington Street – Yountville (707)944-5620 http://www.jessupcellars.com

 

Wine Tasting with Man’s Best Friend

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Here are some more dog-friendly tasting rooms:

Girard Winery – Gaining critical acclaim for excellent wines at great values – http://www.girardwinery.com

Somerston Wine Co. –  Home of Somerston Estate, Priest Ranch and Highflyer wines located high in the eastern hills of Napa Valley – http://www.somerstonewineco.com

Domaine Chandon – Discover a sparkling wine, the result of 250 years of winemaking innovation – http://www.chandon.com

Hill Family Estate – After three decades of farming grapes for some of Napa Valley’s finest wine producers, Doug and the family decided that their family should enter the wine business. http://www.hillfamilyestate.com

Bell Cellars – Anthony and Sandra Bell offer tours of their vineyards and barrel room before taking guests on a sensory training tasting. Smell fresh fruit, herbs and other delectables represented in wine flavors and aromas. They also offer a Winemarker for the Day class and cheese and wine tasting. Bell Wine Cellars is committed to handcrafting limited edition bottles of extraordinary wines. The tasting room is open daily 7 days a week from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.. Call to schedule a visit. 6200 Washington Street • Yountville • California • 94599 • (707)944-1673.

Pet Friendly Dining Venues

IMG_7671Outdoor patio picnics are available for pups and “parents” at Michael Chiarello’s NapaStyle.

At Hurley’s Restaurant, Chef Bob Hurley and team welcome dogs on the patio with a water bowl and a treat.

Pacific Blues Café welcomes dogs on the patio with a San Francisco Giants water bowl or a plain bowl, on request.

At Lucy Restaurant at the Bardessono, the Dog Menu includes three entrees and two desserts for pups dining on the Lucy Patio. They’ve also started a dog-friendly happy hour called Dog Bar. 2014 marks the second year of the program which runs late spring through October. From 5-7 p.m. guests can bring in their dogs for a special promotion: $25 includes light snacks and a glass of wine from Lucy Restaurant & Bar (for the owner) and a cookie for your pup. All proceeds benefit the local humane society. Lucy encourages everyone to post their favorite photos of their dogs and their visits to the Dog Bar to Lucy’s Facebook wall, too. Each week, the person that receives the most likes for their photo receives lunch for two at Lucy.

Other pup-friendly outdoor dining is available at Bistro Jeanty, and at two of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, Ad Hoc’s Addendum and Bouchon Bakery. Bouchon offers two kinds of gourmet dog biscuits alongside their regular delectables, made from freshly ground corn meal and wholesome chicken liver, then glazed with a touch of ketchup. Yummy and good for them, too!

 

Lodging with your Dog

The French country-inspired Vintage Inn welcomes pets of all kinds. The Inn’s Pet Fee includes pet bowls, a pet bed fashioned with cushions, and wrought iron doggy IMG_7632beds with mattresses on request. An amenity package with treats and other dog essentials is presented at check-in, and treats are always available at the front desk. In the morning, precious pooches can accompany their owners for Champagne breakfast on the Vintage Inn patio.

Lavender Inn welcomes dogs up to two per room and “Breakfast in Bed” is included in the Pet Fee.

At North Block Hotel, property mascot and canine greeter Pismo often stars in the hotel’s Facebook page postings. Guests who bring their canine companion will find a comfy pet bed, bowls and special treats, all complimentary.

The luxe Bardessono welcomes pets; the hotel’s Lucy Restaurant & Bar offers a Dog Menu and, in summer and fall, a dog-friendly happy hour called Dog Bar.

Walks and Hikes

Yountville is the best walking town for pets in Napa Valley, the perfect place for travelers and their four-legged friends to soak in the beauty of wine country:

Admire the town's art while walking your lovable pooch.
Admire the town’s art while walking your lovable pooch.

Stroll over to Yountville Community Park–dog-friendly and right in town. Five parks in Yountville welcome pets. The “Yountville Mile” (the first segment of the Napa Valley Vine Trail) runs from the north end of town, south to Domaine Chandon, and pets are welcome. The Napa River Ecological Reserve Trail, one of the few dog-friendly trails on public lands in all of Napa Valley, is located on the Yountville Crossroad. Its one-mile interpretive loop trail has been called an oasis in wine country.

For additional information about Yountville, click on this link- yountville.com

Cafe del Rey: Beautiful Seaside Dining

9098314_f520In the 1970s and 1980s, Marina del Rey was “the place” in Los Angeles for singles and young couples. Now, with tech start-up companies flocking to Southern California, Marina del Rey and the surrounding communities are experiencing a resurgence of young professionals to the community, which is commonly referred to as “Silicon Beach”.

One of the culinary hot spots in the area is Cafe del Rey, which offers creative cocktails and farm-to-table fare. Executive chef Chuck Abair said he loves walking out of the kitchen and enjoying the view of the harbor with boats bobbing in the water.
Previously a sous chef for chef Michael Cimarusti at Providence, Abair joined Cafe del Rey in 2011 as the chef de cuisine, working alongside former executive chef Daniel Roberts. His background in preparing seafood dishes has allowed him to create menus highlighting seasonal flavors and emphasizing seafood paired with housemade ingredients.

Chef Abair is a graduate of Le Cordon Blue California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, and has more than 10 years of culinary experience. His passion for cooking started as a child, when he enjoyed watching “The Galloping Gourmet” and Julia Child.

I was joined by a friend for lunch at Café del Rey, where Abair prepared a wild caught Hawaiian moonfish with chanterelle mushrooms, roasted purple pearl onions and 9096370_f520a moist chick pea cake topped with pan jus. Abair is a whiz with grilled fish, with rave reviews of his swordfish, salmon, barramundi and yellowtail.
He also makes an incredible cheeseburger with Brie cheese, oven dried tomatoes, arugula, caramelized onions and a mustard aioli. The burger is served with crisp French fries and housemade ketchup.

Other specialties include Dungeness crab cakes, grilled cheese on brioche with tomato soup and a lamb burger with harissa-spiced fries. Regulars often enjoy the daily Cinque Terre, offering a selection of five small dishes with a Mediterranean influence.

We saved room for his maple berry pie with cinnamon ice cream, and also sampled the chocolate tower adorned with an orange sauce, and his luscious butterscotch flan.

With fall approaching, Abair is preparing a new menu with dishes made from ingredients found at farmers’ markets. Last year’s fall menu included sweet potato gnocchi, salmon with butternut squash, and lamb osso buco with mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and pine nut gremolata.

Abair said he is planning another “Permission to Come Aboard” half-day fishing expedition that gives seafood lovers and adventurous diners an all-hands-on-deck experience. The cost for the fishing excursion is $55, which includes equipment and a fishing license. Abair shows guests around Marina del Rey before they drop lines. The boat later docks at Cafe del Rey for a barbecue lunch with the freshly caught fish from the trip.

Cafe del Rey offers a casual, yet sophisticated experience for lunch, brunch and dinner. $$-$$$ 4451 Admiralty Way, (310)823-6395.

This article was published in the Sept. 4 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspapers.