I tend to find high priced pizza to be something of an oxymoron. I associate pizza with late night post-party college face-stuffing, or with delivery guys who drive too fast, or with trying to save money when in Italy. Pizzas that cost twenty dollars generally annoy me unless they are the size of a small Uhaul. I've had my fair share of expensive pizzas that claim to use things like truffles, rare hams, and heirloom tomatoes that disappoint more often than surprise. Yet Pizzeria Mozza, part of Mario Batali's burgeoning restaurant empire, delivers pizzas that are worth every pricey penny. Rich in flavor with a substantive yet crispy crust and tons of topping choices, pizzas in Mozza show that expensive pies can indeed live up to their hype.
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Bottega Louie lords over 7th and Grand in downtown LA from its magnificent white-walled, heritage space on the southeast corner. Marked only with LOUIE at the corners of the building in bold, gold letters, the restaurant, with its soaring ceiling inside and marble-everywhere space filled with the fashionably dressed, is as much a statement of Louie's self-assured presence as it is the return of trendy destination restaurants to the once maligned area. The extensive patisserie at the front, filled with incredibly delectable-looking cakes, macaroons, and other forms of sugar, gives hope that Louie is all that you were expecting and more.
Continue reading "The Unfulfilled Promise of Louie" »
I remember thinking that Casa was a really cool spot in the middle of Bunker Hill in Downtown LA when I went last year for dinner with a friend. One of the few places in the neighborhood that was still open and alive, sitting outside in the open air surrounded by Bunker Hill's skyscrapers was an experience I hadn't had before. Unfortunately, I don't remember any of what I ate. It just wasn't very good. However, when faced with the dilemma of taking a visiting friend out for a LA meal in Bunker Hill again, Casa seemed like the only choice (Starry Kitchen, which is a pretty decent restaurant that should be tried, just didn't have the ambiance I thought a visitor would be interested in.)
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I love finding what feel like hidden or undiscovered restaurants when I go out to dine. You know, that place that is up a set of stairs, in an alleyway, or looks ramshackle on the outside but is frilly and frou-frou on the inside. These days in Manila, I spend most of my time chasing big-name restaurants that are working hard to open up multiple chains across the city and that serve underwhelming food at classy prices. I mostly expect the same from my restaurants in LA, and even more so from restaurants located inside hotels. Thus, I was really pleasantly surprised by "Second Story" in the boutique Hotel Belamar in Manhattan Beach.
Continue reading "Look Up for Good Food" »