The Anti-Prix-Fixe Valentine’s Day Roundup

Carnival Cabaret at Big Bar

Single or not, you won’t find me exactly chomping at the bit to try any sort of prix fixe menu on, of all nights, Valentine’s Day, only the busiest dining night out all year. A night of fighting the crowds of twosomes to order up one of the multitude of prix fixe menus during a potentially service-distastrous evening is not something I can recommend to you in good conscience, so why pretend? Anniversaries and birthdays are as great as the dates they land on are unique to each couple or person, so when a calendar designates that one particular day is the day everyone is to express one’s affection to his/her significant other, I can’t help but get a little bit apprehensive.

Here are a few fun alternatives to Valentine’s Day that take that icky obligatory feeling out of your profession of love…

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The Great White Truffle Round-up of Los Angeles

White Truffles at SAAM, The Bazaar

It’s that wonderful time of year when it’s time to indulge in one of the true delicacies of the world. Forget the artificial truffle oil (redundant) of the ’90s – the real thing has a season and the time to enjoy white truffles is now.

Of course, at two to three thousand dollars per pound, it’s quite easy to break the bank while partaking. Fortunately, I’ve got a lot of options in different forms (cocktails! tasting menus! burgers!) and price points that will ensure you’re able to get your fungi fix.

Let’s start out with a cocktail by Matty B, why don’t we?

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Fall and Full Bar Descend Upon Pitfire Pizza on Fairfax

Apple & Pork Festival, Sprouts ‘n Bacon Pizza, Rumpkin Pie Cocktail, Linguica Ragout (clockwise)

The place known for its consistently great, tasty and reasonable Neopolitan crust with the sides and pasta to match has stepped it up in the booze department – at least at their location on Fairfax. Formerly confined to wine and beer, Pitfire Pizza now has a full liquor license with a fall cocktail menu to debut with the return of a few fall food favorites.

The great thing about their new cocktail menu is that they’ve streamlined it to just a trio of pretty phenomenal seasonals but also Moscow Mules made with Tito’s on tap, a few classics like the Old Fashioned and Negroni, and another trio of customizable sours with your choice of spirit. And they all go for a wallet-happy $8 per cocktail.

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Animal’s Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo Declared Lexus Culinary Masters

Vinny Dotolo, Jon Shook

When you get offered car service in a Lexus RX450h to a celebratory dinner at Animal because Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo are to be presented as the next Culinary Masters, you say Yes. Especially when last year’s anointed, Miami’s Latin fusion extraordinaire and longtime mentor to Jon & Vinny, Michelle Bernstein, is in town and also presenting dishes of her own at the dinner.

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Fritzi Dog by Neal Fraser Brings Top Dogs to The Original Farmer’s Market

Memphis BBQ Dog – Porker Dog, grilled peppers, crushed paprika chips

What happens when you take an iconic, American food known for consisting of meat trimmings, fat and preservatives and reinvent it utilizing top notch ingredients and dress them up with imaginative combinations – before framing it all in a delicious bun?

You get Fritzi Dog, now at its first outpost in The Original Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax, serving up awesome dogs and sausages made with prime cuts sourced from veggie-fed, humanely treated animals. What you won’t find are snouts, tails, antibiotics, added nitrates nor mechanically separated meat. “You’ll find the same quality of ingredients [at Fritzi Dog] as you’ve found at [my other restaurants] Grace or BLD,” Neal states. Continue reading

Urban Garden: Fresh, Casual Lebanese Fare on Fairfax

Tabouli, Fatoush & Falafel

Though there’s a new eatery in the neighborhood, its proprietor is anything but a stranger. George Abou-daoud’s newest venture (The Bowery, Rosewood Tavern, Township, The Mercantile) does not actually include a liquor license.

Instead, you’ll find fresh Lebanese made from scratch. Your trusty Mediterranean selections like babaganoush, lebneh yogurt, organic chickpea & quinoa falafel, tabouli, fattoush salad, vegetarian kibbeh, lentil mujadarra, stuffed cheese rolls, fried cauliflower can be found at Urban Garden for an average combo price of $9-$15 a pop. It’s a great addition to Fairfax Village, at once metaphorically and physically across the street from mainstays as historic as Canter’s and iconic as Animal.

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Pitfire Pizza Celebrates its 15th Anniversary and New Fall Menu

Roasted Pumpkin Pizza, Kale, Pumpkin Seeds

It’s been a few years since Pitfire Pizza had found a special place in my heart. Though I first became surprisingly enamored with the well built-out chain starting with the unveiling of their Culver City location, I was surprised to learn that they’re actually celebrating the 15th anniversary of the first, their North Hollywood location, this year.

Their quality is ensured by a well sized, manageable menu that joins the locations together. If you only order pizza, you’re actually missing a big part of their appeal. They always have excellent vegetable sides and well executed pastas to cover all their bases. And now, you’ll have fall flavors to look forward to on your next visit, starting with their Roasted Pumpkin Pizza with kale and pumpkin seeds.

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Superba Snack Bar Preview at Pitfire Artisan Pizza in West Hollywood

Chicken liver mousse, lardo, pate, etc. - Osteria La Buca

Since Jason Neroni left Osteria La Buca, Hollywood’s been feeling a little blue since he was the center of some of the best Italian the neighborhood ever knew. It’s a great thing, then, that he’s scheduled to make a comeback with his and Paul Hibler’s own Superba Snack Bar (nay, not so great that it’s all the way in Venice). But we can take advantage of the pop-up going on this week, however, at the West Hollywood location of Pitfire Pizza.

The pop-up at Hibler’s Pitfire is essentially a preview of what’s to come in about a month at Superba Snack Bar, which will be located at 933 Rose in Venice. So check the menu below (subject to change) and hop on over to the Fairfax District in the next couple of days:

  • Snack: Chicken Liver Mousse, Rye Toast, Balsamic Cherries, Basil Buds ($10)
  • Salad: Eclectic Acres Greens, Superba Ricotta, Famers’ Market Vegetables, Blossoms, Picked Jalapeño Dressing ($8)
  • Pizza: Ramps and Ramp Greens, Ricotta, Crème Fraiche, Smoked Bone Marrow ($12)
  • Pasta: Garganelli, Lamb Bolognese, Black Garlic, Smoked Ricotta Salata ($14)
  • Sandwich: Porchetta, Wild Arugula, Preserved Lemon, Garlic Confit ($12)
  • Drinks: Beer Sangria ($7), Belgian White, Prosecco, Chardonnay, Apricot Juice ($8)

It promises to be a hearty yet flavorful set, so I’m looking forward to it. Buon appetito!

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Wednesday & Thursday
May 23 – 24, 2012

7 PM
No reservations needed

Pitfire Artisan Pizza
801 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
323.544.6240