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.
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.
There’s something poetic about a restaurant that knows its place. Larry’s, located on the beach and open since mid-August, seems to embody that with its beautiful, convertibleÂ patio and simple menu.
Not a single item on the menus (printed on paper and ready for you to tally as in a sushi bar) is over $15, yet hardly any of the dishes lack in heft. Rather, full flavors – and beer, complete with 26 tapsÂ – seem to be the focus at Larry’s. It may be Vegetarian- and Vegan-centric Venice, but omnivores can appreciate the wide selection of charcuterie, flatbread toppings and small plates doubling as entrees; there’s plenty of meat on this menu.
Such asÂ the delicious pot of chicken liver & foie gras parfait (nothing like duck liver to even out the pungency of chicken liver). You can also order the charcuterie and cheese – a solid representation – either to start or to nibble on during the length of your stay. Nothing is parsed out as appetizers or mains, and it serves as a plus. No one is going to scold you if you want to share your organic sal, I’m sorry,Â bacon-wrapped organic salmon with your friends.
Flatbreads: check. The crust is respectable (could it be the water?) and the variety of topping combinations is enough to keep anyone satisfied.
The Green Curry Mussels – a staple at any gastropub – were good and maintained its status as a reliable dish.
Surprisingly, one of my favorites was found in the capellini pasta, which was a Shrimp & Maine Lobster Ragout with lobster tomato sauce, basil and truffle. While sampling some of the heavier items (yes, even sampling does this) had me worried about passing out on my drive home to Hollywood, it was this pasta that was ironicallyÂ the standout. That is, in addition to sipping Ommegang’s Hennepin Farmhouse Saison and a New Belgium Hoptober.
While you won’t go to Larry’s to achieve your latest culinaryÂ epiphany, Chef Brendan Collins (Waterloo & City) does a great job setting upÂ a solid menu forÂ this gastropub-by-the-beach. They also tap new, localÂ and/or rare brews there once in awhile, such as Atwater Village’s brand newÂ Golden Road Brewing Company’s Point the Way IPA. Whereby I normally avoid the beach in most things food-relatedÂ (it’s about the view, isn’t it?), Larry’s, with its wide draft selection, beautiful people and unmatched outdoor-indoorÂ backdrop,Â really can’t be beat.
I’ll get right to the point. Let’s count the reasons, shall we?
Delicious, housemade charcuterie: Check. Fresh, housemade pasta: Check. Flavorful and tender-to-the-fork meatballs: Check. Tasty Neopolitan pizzas: Check. Former Porchetta and 10 Downing (NYC) chef Jason Neroni in the kitchen: Check.
I had the opportunity to try all this and more at a recent media lunch and came out glad that I played hooky devoted work PTOÂ to doing so. Nothing is lost, however, on the starters. The ricotta croquettas topped with a touch of truffle honey haven’t lost their touch – still fluffy as ever -Â in the changeover. The excellent salumi that came out included a chicken liver and pork pate, porchetta di testa, terrina campagnola – and last, but certainly not least, a whipped lardo.Â I couldn’t get enough of thatÂ lardo, so of course I couldn’t complain when it also appeared on the lightly fried green tomatoes. But the meatballs! The meatballs!Â How unordinary they were, what with their flavor and texture.Â They were really divine.Â In between these bites were smoked and extra meaty olives and pickles as well as salted, pork fat almonds.
ï»¿Only after all of this did we really start lunch.
The pasta was delicious. Not oversauced, not too simplistic withÂ just enough going on to keep things cohesive,Â interesting and more than enjoyable.Â The freshness of the angelotti, bucatini and parpadelle were quite as good as any I’ve had, with those pastas being made the same day in a specially designated “pasta room” (which doubles as a private dining room housing the chef’s table) just upstairs.
Feeling like a sweet-ish pasta? Go with the Sweet Corn Angelotti with Dungeness Crab, Lemon Basil and Butter. In the mood for a heavier variety? The Rabbit Parpadelle with Castelvetrano Olives and Porchini Mushrooms is also excellent. The Bucatini Carbonara comes withÂ an irresistable poached eggÂ and is seasoned with Marscarpone, Guanciale and Black Pepper, which gives this pasta a delicious kick.
The pizza is delicious, though I must admit that my favorite tends to be the simplest variety – appropriate named “The Classic” at Osteria La Buca: Mozzarella, tomato, sea salt and basil is all you’ll find on this one. But the fennel sausage variety with ricotta, pickled jalapenos and garlic paste is also game. It all depends on what you like.
I must say, though, don’t forget dessert. Especially the refreshing Basil Ice Cream with Sauteed Strawberries. The Chocolate Budino with sea salt also stands on its own, and dare I say its simplicityÂ gives Mozza’s a run for their money?
Osteria La Buca really is a delightful place to dine, with plenty of solid options. With its recent, refresherÂ remodel setting the frameworkÂ for JasonÂ Neroni’sÂ arrival, it’s apparent that they have aimed to step up their game. While I found the former La Buca warm and charming, it seems that Chef Neroni has tightened things up and dishes come out a bit more refined. Delicioso.
Since Pitfire is one of my favorite Southern California pizza joints – serving beer and wine to boot – I was excited to hearÂ Executive Chef Michael Ainslie isÂ launching a new spring menu. Each of the new items highlight ingredients that are in season as our temperatures get warmer:
Grilled Pineapple & Appalachian Country Ham Pizza ($10.25) – Grilled Pineapple, Charred Poblano Chile, Benton’s Country Ham, Red Onion, Mozzarella
I’m especially excited to try the Sausage and Spring Greens Pizza – I love fennel and in my past experience at Pitfire, the produce has been nothing but fresh. The crust has lots to be vouched for; rarely do I find a crust this interesting, especially on this coast!! It’s nice and buttery when you get to the edge of the pie.
Check below for the nearest Pitfire to you…
Pitfire North Hollywood 5211 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601 818.980.2949 Mon – Wed: 11 AM – 9 PM Thur – Sat: 11 AM – 10 PM Sun: 12 PM – 9 PM
Pitfire Downtown LA 108 W. 2nd Street Los Angeles, CA 90012 213.808.1200 Mon – Sat: 11 AM – 10 PM Sun: 12 PM – 10 PM
Pitfire Westwood 2018 Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025 310.481.9860 Mon 11 AM – 9 PM Tue – Fri 11 AM – 10 PM Sun 12 PM – 9 PM
Pitfire Mar Vista 12924 Washington Blvd Culver City, CA 90066 424.835.4088 Mon – Sat 11 AM â€“ 10 PM Sun 12 PM – 9 PM
I never met a soul who didn’t like pizza (even my cheese-hating ex eats more pizza than anyone I know). And though I may have grown up but an hour from Chicago, I could never get into deep dish. If the toppings are great, I’m going to want to consume more square inches of that pizza and less “breading” underneath those scrumptious add-ons. Let’s just say that one sausage patty-topped DowntownÂ Gino’s East pie has once stopped me dead in my tracks…after half a slice. I like meat, but I don’t like my pizza overwhelming.
EnterÂ the 4 1/2-month old, eco-conscious pizza franchise installment in West Hollywood called Pizza Fusion Hollywood. I was recently invited to partake in the pies at this casual hang-out, which on a weekday nightÂ was well packed with whom it seemed to be locals. Their produce follows suit (or precedes – you pick), with a conscious effort to source from nearby farmers and use organic ingredients.Â Vegans will find a gluten-free crust available at Pizza Fusion as well as plenty other menu items – including wines and beers – that are kosher for consumption with “V” next to their listing as indication.
Does wine fit your fancy? Pick from a handful of Californian Syrahs or perhaps an Argentinian Malbec; only a couple on the wine list happen to be non-vegan. Other casual diners will also find a fabulously-priced and small -Â but choice – beer list. The Boont Amber Ale from the solar-powered Anderson Valley Brewery was a first for me – and a deliciously pleasant one, at that! Unibroue Blanche de Chambly was the yang to their Chambly Noire’s yin – but no worries if you can’t decide, because beer flights are available so you can get a little bit of each.
Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike will appreciate their Zucchini Al Forno appetizer, with a roasted halved zucchini topped with a mixture of feta, walnuts andÂ pepper. As for the mains, come here for the, well,Â pizza. The vegetables are fresh and the crust is moist with good crunch. I was in for a not-so-rude – refreshing, actually -Â awakening with their Farmer’s Market Pie complete with soy cheese. Not that I am well-versed in all matters of cheese substitutes (lest my Wisconsin heritage disown me) but this cheese’s milkier textureÂ complimented the vegetables also atop the pie quite well. I had no idea what I was “missing.” Pizza Fusion’s spinach and artichoke pie was also divine – with no shortage of tender artichoke heartsÂ to go around. Their Sausage with Tricolor PeppersÂ topping was the perfectÂ peppery-sweet combination – perfect for my inevitable carnivorous protein fix.
And you have every reason to look forward to dessert; this is one of the under-the-radar joints to have beer floats available. Always thought it was weird to consider beer as a dessert? Get the Lindemans Lambic peach variety complete with vanilla gelato. This particular lambic, while too sweet for my tooth alone or even paired with food, was perfect for dessert.Â The floatÂ satisifed my sweet and beer tooth!
With delicious pies running you a respectable $9.99 – $10.99 per personal serving and $6 deliciousÂ beers on tap, it’s hard to find a reason not to visit Pizza Fusion Hollywood should you find yourself in West Hollywood. Crunch, the Sunset Laemmle theatre and Burke Williams Spa may be in the same strip mall, but their philosophy, price point and product are decidedly without fluff.
Weekly specials and happy hour:
Vegan Monday: Free Daiya Cheese upgrade on any pizza free sorbet with any large vegan pizza (Soy or Daiya) Wine and Dine Tuesday: $5- $10 OFF Select bottles of organic/sustainable wine Draft Beer Wednesday: $1 OFF Every Draft Beer Gluten-Free Thursday: Free Gluten-Free Brownie with Any Large Gluten-Free Pizza (Brownie & Crust are Vegan too)
M-F lunch special (11 AM – 4 PM): Cheese or Pepperoni Pizza, Salad, & Soda $8.99
Edit (1/22/10): Eater LA reports that due to the rain, the opening has been postponed to January 30 (or even later)!!
Set to officially open on January 23, 2010 is the 4th installment of Pitfire Pizza, featuring artisan pizzas hand-crafted with the freshest, finest ingredients – some of which are grown in their very own garden out front.
I arrive at the soft opening unsure if I’m in the right place at all (part of it is still under construction) but still felt drawn to the warm glow of the space. First of all, the address says Culver City, but I Google map the address to find it’s south of Santa Monica Airport. Er? Good thing I spot Diana Takes a Bite. And then as I enter, I eye lucious vegetable and salad plates on the table, ready for absorption. Zing.
The chicken salad ($10.95) was delicious as was the Farmers Market Roasted Vegetables ($9.95)Â – which were done to a perfect tenderness. The brussels sprouts were still firm and the seasoning was subtle and complimentary. Another favorite was the cauliflower, which came with mild redÂ pepper and a light dusting of crumb. Get these vegetables.
What better way to celebrate and benefit a charity like Real Medicine FoundationÂ than to pair pizzas with beer? Real Medicine is a charity which provides humanitarian support to people affected by disaster, post-war, and poverty – and Gev Kazanchyan & Stone Brewing Co. led the charge for their benefit one Sunday afternoon at Citysip, a local wine bar located in Echo Park on Sunset. The result was an impressive $1000 check towards research whereby we guests tasted delicious beers with pizzas delivered fresh every single round by Tomato Pie.
We started out with a palate cleanser – Stone Levitation Ale. I don’t know if it’s so much a palate cleanser so much as a beer that simply tastes good. But sure, it’s not heavy – still is a Stone (i.e. strong) brew so it has some weight to it -Â and therefore, a good beer to whet the senses.
The first Tomato Pie pie came out, which was of a breakfast sort with bacon, sausage, spinach, white onion and egg as toppings. I can usually eat breakfast any time of day yet – lo and behold – I had been sleeping on a cemetery lawn a few hours prior. It seemed a proper way to wake amongst the dead. But Stone’s Smoked Porter is one of my favorite beers, and it was a nice, rich start to the tasting and matched the sausage on the pizza well.