Gluten-free Pasta by CAULIPOWER

CAULIPOWERthe makers of America’s #1-selling cauliflower crust pizza, now debuts a delicious Cauliflower Pasta, that is available in frozen food aisles near you. 

CAULIPOWER uses the power of fresh vegetables to make healthier, easier versions of the food you crave – pizza crust, pasta, tortillas, rice cauliflower, chicken tenders, and sweet potaTOASTS.

Their products taste like the food you crave, especially their new Cauliflower Pasta. My friends at the plant-forward company sent me a creative pasta box filled with everything I needed to make one of the best pasta dishes ever.

They make two varieties of pasta – Linguine and Pappardelle. Each one provides 1/3 cup of veggies per serving. 

It’s a gluten-free pasta that offers the LOWEST calorie pasta at retail (dry, refrigerated, & frozen) with just 230 calories per serving. Made without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, each serving has 48% more fiber than traditional pasta, half the amount of sugar, and zero added sugar.

At $5.99, these delicious plant-based pastas feed your whole family in about three-minutes of cooking time.

Health conscious, food sensitive and vegetarians eaters can finally enjoy their favorite foods – cheesy, melty pizza, crispy chicken tenders, sweet and savory ‘toast’, soft tortillas, delicious riced cauliflower bowls, and frozen cauliflower pasta.

CAULIPOWER’s Cauliflower Pasta is available nationwide on Amazon, as well as in the freezer aisle of select retailers across the country including Shoprite, Fresh Thyme, Fresh Direct, and Jewel. The product will be also available at Walmart at the end of September, and in more than 14,000 stores including Gelson’s, Big Y, Dierbergs, and Kroger by the end of 2021.

Unique Artisanal Valentine’s Gifts in LA

A study by Drexel University found that women feel more romantic after they’ve eaten. Published online in the journal Appetite, researchers found that women’s brains respond more to romantic cues on a full stomach than an empty one. Here’s a way to capture a loved one’s heart. Give a thoughtful, unique and loving edible gift on Valentine’s Day.

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Who: Cookie Good

What: Fresh artisan cookies to warm the hearts of your significant other, friend, teacher, or family with a box of classic flavors. Wrapped in a festive box, the founders are perfectionists in making the perfect cookie and bar. They use the best ingredients starting with chocolate from Callebaut & Van Leer, Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla, and AA sweet creamery butter. Cookie flavors include: Chocolate Birthday Cake, Chocolate Choc. Chip-Brownie Chunk, Chocolate S’mores, Cupid, Just Plain Choc. Sugar Cookie, Red Velvet, Turtle and White Choc.-Raspberry Truffle.

Where: 2448 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, (424) 280-4100.

When: EverydayIMG_4591Photo Credit | MW Media

Instead of bringing a bouquet of roses to your sweetheart on Valentines Day, demonstrate your love with a heart shaped pizza throughout the weekend. Here’s some creative and customized pizzas to warm anyones heart.

Who: Mickeys Deli

What: Valentines Day Heart-Shaped Pizza

Where: 101 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

When: February 14th (Pre-order is available for that day)

Delivery: $.99 cent delivery day of exclusively through DoorDash

Price: $15.99 (additional toppings $1.99 each)

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Who: PizzaRev

What: Valentines Day Pizza with messages

Where: 9 locations across LA county, click here

When: Thursday, 2/13 – Saturday, 2/15

Special Offer: Buy one, get one FREE at PizzaRev on all pizzas, salads and calzone. Artisanal customization is completed in under 3 minutes. image001

Who: California Pizza Kitchen

What: Heart shaped pizzas

Where: Participating locations, go to https://www.cpk.com.

When: From Feb. 11 through Feb. 16, guests can order any of their favorite CPK pizzas on a special heart-shaped crispy thin crust, for no additional charge.

Special Offer: Valentine’s Day for CPK’s “Sweet Deal” prix fixe meal now through Feb. 16, chose one appetizer, two entrees and share a dessert for $35. As a gift, guests who dine-in during these days, they will receive a special card to redeem for a buy one, get one free offer during a return visit. Guests will also be eligible to enter the California Wine Country Sweepstakes, featuring a romantic two-night stay in Sonoma, Calif., an afternoon with the winemaker at Truett Hurst Winery, and dinner for two with wine pairings at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, courtesy of CPK and premium wine partner, Colby Red.

National Pizza Day is on Sunday, Feb. 9

Not only do we have the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, but it is also National Pizza Day. Celebrated on Feb. 9, studies show that 4 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S, each year in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are thin crust, while others are made thick crust, some are deep-dish, square, round or even heart shaped.

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Here are some interesting facts about pizza discovered on National Day calendar:

  • The most popular topping on a pizza is pepperoni at 36% of all pies ordered.
  • Of the 3 billion piping hot pizzas sold in the U.S. each year,  one billion more are from the frozen pizza section and heated up at home.
  • Pizzerias are 17% of all U.S. Restaurants.
  •  Antica Pizzeria, is the first Pizzeria that opened in 1738 in Naples, Italy.
  •  Gennaro Lombardi, the first Pizzeria in the United States, opened in 1895 in New York City.
  • Americans consume on average 23 pounds of pizza per person each year.

In Los Angeles we have hundreds of pizza spots to get your fill on this national holiday. Here’s my 5 favorites to eat-in or bring home to watch the Academy Awards:

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Paperboy Santa Monica is offering half off pizzas all day and an all new menu of hot delicious Neapolitan pizzas, wings and desserts. Build your own personal 9” pizza and  top it with Italian sausage, pepperoni, jalapenos, cherry peppers, and green onions. Cheese topping include mozzarella, fontina, provolone and parmesan.  No celebration is complete without dessert, try the all new cheesecakes with seasonal fruit or grab a pint of artisanal ice cream. Paperboy in Santa Monica is located inside The Gallery at 1315 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

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DRAGO Ristorante – offers a variety of mighty good pizzas from Margherita, to Siciliana and assorted roasted vegetables for around $15.

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Blaze Pizza – Is offering a special on Feb. 9, with two pepperoni pizzas for $10 with online orders.

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PizzaRev offers all pizzas for $6 on National Pizza Day. PizzaRev is another fast casual concept that specializes in premium pizza customization in under 3 minutes.

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California Pizza Kitchen offers a variety of creative pizzas everyday, however on Feb. 11 through Feb. 16, guests can order any of their favorite CPK pizzas on a special heart-shaped crispy thin crust, for no additional charge. Also, CPK is participating in a nationwide fundraiser with The Children’s Heart Foundation. Guest who dine starting on Feb.11, and mention the fundraiser to their server, will have 20 percent of their bill donated to the foundation. Order a glass of Colby Red wine and the donation will be matched to reach up to 40 percent of the purchase proceeds. Come in before, during or after Valentine’s Day for CPK’s “Sweet Deal” prix fixe meal special. Starting on Feb. 12 through Feb. 16, chose one appetizer, two entrees and share a dessert for $35. As a gift, guests who dine-in during these days will receive a special card to redeem for a buy one, get one free offer during a return visit. Guests will also be eligible to enter the California Wine Country Sweepstakes, featuring a romantic two-night stay in Sonoma, Calif., an afternoon with the winemaker at Truett Hurst Winery, and dinner for two with wine pairings at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, courtesy of CPK and premium wine partner, Colby Red. For participating locations, go to https://www.cpk.com.

 

Culina’s ‘Friends & Family’ Mondays offers Heart & Soulful Specials

5423A3D0-3412-4565-A48E-B0C26C678432Monday nights at CULINA just got better at the Four Seasons Resort Los Angeles in Beverly Hills. Executive Chef Luca Moriconi created a new “Friends & Family Mondays” menu.

This talented chef has a big heart and it shows in the dishes he prepares. The Monday menu features 8 different ANTIPASTI dishes for $12. There is Prosciutto E Melon, Insalata Caesar, and an tangy octopus and potato salad with taggiasca olives.

PRIMI offerings are $15 each and include potato gnocchi with four cheeses; classic beef bolognese lasagna that is based on Chef Luca’s mamma’s recipe; and the most delicious ricotta and spinach cannelloni topped with an appealing beschamel sauce.

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Chef Luca is hand tossing PIZZE and baking them in his new top-of-the-line pizza oven. He makes pies with cotto ham and olives; burrata and speck with arugula and tomatoes; lamb sausage with black olives, peanuts and mint pesto; and a simple and delicious Margherita pizza. He even offers two vegan options topped with cashew cream or San Marzano tomatoes.

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Photo by Shaena Engle

Since I was dining during the debut of this Monday night dinner, Chef Luca invited a small group to make pizza pies with him.

He taught us how to “pinch and slap” the dough, shape it (I made a heart shaped pizza) spread San Marzano tomatoes, break off sprigs of basil and top with fior di latte mozzarella. We slid my pie into a beautiful pizza oven and watched it bake for about three minutes, before I took it to a table to take a bite.

SECONDI dishes include a breaded “heart shaped” IMG_8175chicken breast parmigiana, veal scaloppine in lemon and capers, grilled swordfish and a baked eggplant parmigiana.

Guests finish with four different desserts for $9 each. DOLCI items include apple crostata with vanilla ice cream, chocolate tart with salted caramel sea salt gelato, adffogato profiterole with espresso and vanilla gelato and a vanilla bean pan cotta with short bread and stewed berries.

Enjoy culinary sitting outside on the garden patio with serene fire and water features. Cocktails are $12 and include an Aperol Spritz and Negroni. Since pizza goes well with beer Culina offers Peroni Nastro Azzurro, and Spumanti, Bianchi, and Rosso wines by the glass.

IMG_8132Other culinary specials include PRONTO Lunch. The Market inspired buffet includes a selection of salads, cheese and charcuterie with a choice of protein. Dessert includes a selection of fresh fruit and more. It’s $35 per person and available Monday – Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information and to reserve, please call Culina at (310) 860-4000

Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills – 300 Doheny Drive, Los Angeles

 

 

 

Triple Treats – Pizza, Beer & Ice Cream at Piencone

A new family friendly restaurant opened in Los Angeles offering a playhouse patio with a small play structure on the back patio, and lots of board games for parents and their kids to play together. Piencone is an ideal spot for mom and dad to sit back and enjoy good food with a beer or cocktail, while their kids play and scream with joy, while playing with other kids. IMG_1449

Opening Piencone is a dream come true for owners and parents Corey and Michelle Wilton. Michelle graduated from San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy (CCA), and moved to Los Angeles to work in the pastry kitchens at L’Orangerie and Patina. After years in other chef’s kitchens, Michelle developed her own business as a private chef. Almost ten years ago, she and her husband, Corey opened an Eagle Rock favorite – Four Cafe just down the street from Piencone.

Corey’s background is in music and as a Beatles fan, he appreciated how the “Fab Four” changed letters around to make something iconic. Corey thought Pinecone was a whimsical play on the words “Pie” for pizza and “Cone” for ice cream.

Now parents, this couple dreamed of opening a family-friendly, wood fired pizza concept serving craft beer on tap, and artisanal ice cream. When this spot became available, their dream finally came true. IMG_1441

Pinecone offers five spacious dining areas offering five different vibes. Walking inside, our server Emily led us on a tour to see where we might like to sit. Walking by the kitchen and ice cream counter, my friend Cyndey and I noticed the front dining room was light and bright with beautiful wood floors, white booths, round globe lighting and shelves with art and green plants displayed.

Down the hallway is a dark and cozy adult friendly Bar 1954, offering a long bar top with padded bar stools and wooden booths. Emily introduced us to partner and bar manager Herb Gualpa. He told us he always has over 10 beers on tap and Whalebird Kombucha Passion Green Tea on tap. “We are the only place in LA serving this on tap right now,” Gualpa said.IMG_1445

Next we walked out to the Playhouse patio and noticed families sitting on picnic tables, while a few kids were playing in the low wood fenced area, near a table filled with Chutes & Ladders, Boggle, Trouble and Sorry! Emily told us “This has become a popular weekday lunch playdate venue, and on weekends it’s also a great birthday party destination.” I bet after the kids go home at night, this space transforms into a millennial beer garden and game night spot. 

Looking over the menu, we started with a small bowl of anchovy stuffed fried olives to snack on with a glass of wine and kombucha on tap. Next we ordered the Escarole salad with Kishu tangerines This orange citrus grows on dwarf trees and are about the size of a golf ball. There was a sprinkle of manchego cheese and chopped almonds on top of a pleasing citrus rosemary vinaigrette.IMG_1464

Emily brought us a round white plate topped with wood roasted cauliflower. This vegan dish was sweetened with currants, and spiced with a serrano aioli and curried vinaigrette. 

At the table next to me, the couple ordered the wild boar stuffed aranacini that arrived in two large fried spheres with a lemon parmesan sauce on top. They remarked it was delicious.

Looking over the pizza column, we ordered two of the most popular pizzas – The Honey Pot and the Green Thumb. What makes these pizzas unique is the naturally leavened dough made with a sourdough starter using 100% organic flour. The sauce is made with organic Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes and the chopped greens are procured from a local organic farm named Country Fresh. 

The Honey Pot was topped with salami Americano, spigarello (Italian broccoli rabe), Sicillian oregano, sheep’s cheese, and a drizzle of fermented aleppo honey. My friend Cydney really liked the Green Thumb pizza with shaved garlic medallions, oregano, dill, tomatoes, sorrel and semi-soft cheese sheep’s milk cacio de roma. Kitchen shears are served with the pizzas for diners to cut wide or thin slices to their liking.IMG_1461

We saved room for the pasteurized organic ice cream made on premise. Looking at the eight flavors available that include vanilla bean, maple with brown sugar pop tart, brown butter lavender, mint chip, chocolate hazelnut, sesame caramel, coconut passion fruit sorbet and Mexican hot chocolate, we ordered a scoop of sesame caramel and Mexican hot chocolate. Emily asked if we wanted our ice cream on a cone or in a cup. Since they make and roll their own waffle style crunchy cones, we both said cone. Looking around the room while licking our ice cream, we noticed we weren’t the only diners holding ice cream cones after enjoying a delicious dinner. 

Next time you are in the mood for a beer, salad, pizza and ice cream, head on over to Piencone. The restaurant is open 7 days a week. On weekdays it’s open from 4 to 11 p.m. On weekends it opens at 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. $$ 1958 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles (323)274-4728.

Baldoria is a fun apertivo cafe in DTLA

What happens when a poet and a singer meet? They eventually open a restaurant together, obviously.

Pizzas are baked in a Mugnaini pizza oven until they turn a golden color with lightly burnt crust. (photo by Jill Weinlein)

After traveling in Rome, poet David King dreamed of opening an aperitivo bar offering a communal vibe where locals could gather for a drink and a light meal at the end of the workday. Then, while working at Cube Marketplace & Cafe on La Brea Avenue as the wine director, King met the chef Duke Gervais, a singer and graduate from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. The two paired up to realize King’s dream with Baldoria, a restaurant in the former Aburiya Toranoka space in Little Tokyo, just south of downtown Los Angeles.

IMG_3881As beverage director, King pours a creative craft beer selection and an exceptional list of handpicked spirits and wines, along with inventive cocktails with names such as Balder Cuba Libre, Freisa Azteca and Don’t Burn The Pig. Back in the kitchen, Gervais cooks up heat-blistered pizzas, short rib ravioli, lamb chops, spaghetti Bolognese and creative weekend brunches.

I was recently invited to a pizza-making dinner at Baldoria to meet King and Gervais. When I asked them how they came up with the name of their restaurant, Gervais told me they turned to Google.

“It means shindig – have a good time, wild party,” Gervais said. “This lends to the vibe, good food and drinks we offer.”

Baldoria does indeed offer a good time – a large white brick wall holds a TV screen playing the latest sporting game. The dining room features a long bar, as well as a low counter with seating near the kitchen. High top tables with communal seating run down the middle of the room. The space, ideal for large gatherings, has become a popular birthday party destination. Baldoria also offers rental space, with room for 60 people seated inside, or 80 including the patio.

For my pizza lesson, I donned a white apron and learned how to manipulate a ball of IMG_3887pizza dough into a thin crust. I topped the dough with one of four sauces, and a variety of ingredients that included cipollini onions, sliced figs and prosciutto. As my pizza baked in a Mugnaini gas-fired pizza oven, I watched a blast of hot air give it a nice color with a speckling of lightly burnt bubbles. After baking, Gervais topped my pizza with a brush of garlic glaze to enhance the flavors.

Sipping a glass of rosé while eating the delicious homemade pizza, I looked at the Baldoria menu. There are 10 pizzas with names that include Mrs. Croque made with Black Forest ham, Grand Cru Gruyere, browned butter béchamel and Chino Valley eggs. The Lil Tokyo Steak pizza is made with miso-marinated flat iron steak, yuzu kosho, shiitake, shishito, cherry tomatos and red onions.

IMG_3889There are a handful of vegetarian dishes that include pistachio-crusted grapes, ricotta toast with Black Mission fig compote, and crispy Brussels sprouts.

Carnivores will like the charred BLT wedges made with gem lettuce boats, smoked bacon, cherry tomatoes, egg and chives, or the Caribbean-spiced duck wings.

Desserts include a ricotta cheesecake, espresso cake and persimmon pudding.

On Saturday and Sunday, Baldoria offers a prix-fixe menu that includes a choice of one entrée with a side dish or pizza, plus bottomless mimosas or rosé for $30. Entrées include ciabatta French toast, spinach and three-cheese omelette or spicy fried chicken with apple-cinnamon waffle tacos with WhistlePig maple syrup. Sides include biscuits and honey, two eggs any style, smashed fingerling potatoes or an arugula salad. Pizza-making classes will be offered after the holidays. $$.

IMG_3890Open for lunch on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., weekend brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner nightly starting at 4:30 p.m. Happy hour offers pizzas for $8 and 20 percent off beer, wine and liquor every Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Baldoria is located at 243 S. San Pedro St. (213)947-3329.

This review was also featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News – Nov. 30, 2017.

CPK Keeps Getting Better

DSC_0079In 1985, attorneys Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax opened a bright yellow casual pizza restaurant on Beverly Drive. It was located on a block in Beverly Hills that didn’t get as much foot traffic as the Beverly Drive north of Wilshire Blvd, however within a year the street became more of a social hub as locals and visitors flocked inside to try a unique barbecued chicken pizza and wickedly good chicken tequila pasta dish.

In 1992, with CPK at its height opening many new restaurants nationwide, PepsiCo bought the company for almost $100 million. Unfortunately, the restaurant changed. Regulars noticed the difference in quality and service. Flax and Rosenfield were not pleased and in 2003, this dynamic duo resumed control of CPK.

In 2011, hospitality expert GJ Hart became the CEO of California Pizza Kitchen. First, he renovated the flagship Beverly Hills restaurant, revitalizing the success of CPK’s future. It was received so favorably, that Hart and his team have planned similar makeovers at 80 CPK locations nationwide to celebrate the restaurants 30 year anniversary this year.

One of the most recent renovations is at the lively Hollywood and Highland location. The interiors have been transformed with reclaimed wood floors throughout and warm colors with a hint of the trademark yellow. Near the entrance is an herb garden and Restoration Hardware-style wine case. Artwork on the walls are photographs telling a story about Hollywood with its classic and whimsical architectural highlights.

The new Callfornia Pizza Kitchen’s menu is by chef Brian Sullivan, Senior Vice President of Culinary Development. Working at CPK DSC_0081for almost 30 years, he has kept many of the signature favorites, yet upped the menu with steaks and seafood.

Some of the new dishes are featured in Sullivan and Paul Pszybylski CPK’s Senior Director of Culinary Innovation cookbook – CPK “Taste of the Seasons.” It’s a collection of flavorful and wholesome salads, meals, desserts and drinks.

I really enjoyed the 10 oz. USDA Ribeye sprinkled generously with homemade Pinot Noir sea salt. It rests for 24 hours to tenderize before being grilled and served. With a dollop of creamy bleu cheese butter, it’s served with delicious crispy roasted fingerling potatoes sprinkled with sea salt and an arugula salad. The price point on this steak is half of the high-end steak houses in town, yet just as good or maybe even better.

There is also a hearth-roasted piece of white halibut served with slightly sweet butternut squash, crunchy farro, baby kale and grilled asparagus.

DSC_0076Soups include a new baked potato with bacon and Farmers Market with squash and a variety of vegetables with a touch of cream.

The seasonal California field salad has cubes of sweet watermelon and slices of strawberries with mixed greens, a sprinkling of feta cheese and California pistachio. It glistens with a housemade Champagne vinaigrette dressing. Guests can add grilled chicken, shrimp of sauteed salmon to this salad.

The General Manager Michael Palaski and Assistant General manager Matthew Ross circulate the dining room and try to touch each table checking on guests. They are pleased with the new renovations and feel the open dining room allows management and servers to offer better service to each guest.

Pasta dishes include eight different varieties and pair nicely with the seasonal harvest sangrias or 18 oz. draft beer. Wine flight of three – 3 oz. pours include California whites, California reds and adventurous wines with a pink Moscato.

Of course they still have hearth baked pizza made with a hand-tossed crust on the menu. In fact there are 19 varieties of pizza pies, including a Jamaican Jerk chicken and roasted artichoke. The new Tricolore salad has caramelized onions and large shavings of Parmesan cheese. It’s a pizza and salad on one plate with greens tossed in Dijon balsamic dressing.

They have five flat breads that include a new Maine lobster with fresh herbs. It’s similar to an open face lobster roll, DSC_0085yet had too much mayonnaise for my liking.

Save room for the desserts in a glass jar. They are fantastic.

For midday diners, the lunch duos on the menu offers a lunch size 7″ pizza with a salad or soup for $10.95. The half-sandwich with salad or soup is $8.95. Lunch specials are available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Come see the new and improved CPK in the heart of Hollywood.

$$ 6801 Hollywood Blvd. 2nd Level (323)460-2080.

This article was featured in the Beverly Press 2015 Dining and Entertainment Guide.

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

DeSano Pizza in East Hollywood

DSC_0776DeSano Pizza is not like 800 Degrees, Blaze Pizza or PizzaRev where you have someone assemble your customized pizza based on ingredients to your liking. Instead, you place your order at a counter and a staff member enters it into a computer that sends it straight to the open kitchen. After you pay for your order, you turn a corner and are faced with a “wow” factor; four traditional wood-fired ovens imported from Italy. Each oven is 10,000 pounds and heats easily to 900 degrees.

The ovens have the names of an Italian city and Saint on the front. “In Italy, there is a Saint for each day. Each city is protected by a Saint, and our ovens are protected too,” said Marino Monferrato, the Managing Partner for DeSano’s Los Angeles.

Monferrato had been working at the popular Cecconi’s in West Hollywood. When Scott DeSano of DeSano Pizza restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee and in Charleston, South Carolina dined at Cecconi’s, he told Monferrato, “Your pizza is good, but my pizza is better.” At the time, Monferrato was the General Manager and Sommelier at Cecconi’s for five years. DeSano lured him away to open a DeSano Pizza and Bakery restaurant in East Hollywood.

Monferrato accepted DeSano’s offer and brought along prized Pizzaiolo, Massimiliano Di Lascio. “In my native Italy, you are surrounded by restaurants that revolve aroundDSC_0773 a wood-burning oven and the pizzaiolas who makes the pies,” said Monferrato as I lunched with two friends recently at the East Hollywood location.

Both Monferrato and Di Lascio are natives of Italy and bring an authentic perspective to the casual neighborhood pizzeria. Di Lascio was raised in Salerno and became an award-winning pizzaiolo preparing pizza that he perfected in his native Italy.

Monferrato is from the Piedmont area of Italy. “It’s home to a lot of Italian wineries,” said Monferrato.

Sitting in a large 7,000 square foot warehouse space, we enjoyed a table near the kitchen and ordered a couple of the Napoli pizza pies made with authentic flavors and ingredients such as mozzarella de bufala, prosciutto cotto and a delightful peppadew. “Peppadew is a vegetable that is half tomato and red pepper. It offers a beautiful and clean taste with sausage,” said Monferrato. The peppadew has a sweet heat that peps up the flavors of the pizza.

Servers presented our freshly made pies and salads within minutes. Each pizza comes either personal-sized or larger for families, couples and friends to share. Ingredients are sourced from the Campania region of Southern Italy.

What pairs nicely with pizza or a calzone is beer or glass of red Italian wine. Unfortunately, DeSano is waiting for its liquor license. “Hopefully soon we will be serving beer and wine,” said Monferrato.

DSC_0780Overseeing the wine program at Cecconi’s, Monferrato has already hand selected wines and beers by the bottle and on draft for the restaurant.

Desserts are a choice of four traditional housemade Cannoli made with homemade ricotta on thick shells imported from the East Coast. The chocolate, pistachio and Nutella were exquisite. Ask for a scoop of gelato made by local artisan Alessandro Fontana. He makes all of the gelatos in Burbank and brings them to Monferrato. The salted caramel and lemon are exquisite.

As we were about to take our first spoonful, Monferrato introduced Fontana to us. “My gelato has no chemicals and made with 40% less DSC_0782butterfat than ice cream. The lemon gelato is gluten free,” said Fontana.

There is an adjacent private dining room that offers a separate entrance off one of the parking lots for larger private parties. The parking is terrific for Los Angeles with two lots.

DeSano Pizza and Bakery East Hollywood is open for lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. or until DeSano runs out of dough. Free parking is offered in the attached lot. 4959 Santa Monica Blvd., (323)913-7000.

This article was also published in the Beverly Press and Park La Brea News on April 24, 2014.

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