Is Brentwood’s Pizzana a slice of heaven or a dud?

Pizzana
Courtesy of May Chan

You know when word spreads in the office that there’s pizza in the break room and you’re skeptical why it’s there? That’s Pizzana with its Instagram billed with more photos of stars than pizza.

Even though the affluent neighborhood is littered with pizzerias, Pizzana is the brainchild of Sprinkles Cupcakes’ Candace Nelson and her husband, Charles, along with NCIS: Los Angeles actor Chris O’Donnell and his wife, Caroline.

On this Sunday morning, right before the lunch time bustle, the establishment sits on San Vicente Boulevard amidst Brentwood’s Art Festival crowd.

When you enter the pizza spot, the inviting blue landscape lures you to sit down and take in its menu.

Let’s preface by saying that what differentiates Pizzana from nearby pizza places is its dough formed the “Neapolitan” way (traditionally a 10-12 inch personal size) and fermented for 48 hours.

Courtesy of May Chan

We ordered the Uovo pizza ($19), which consisted of fior di latte, cherry tomatoes, prosciutto crudo, bacon jam, arugula and an egg.

Upon breaking the egg, it’s like paint strokes of yolk melting into the crust, kneaded from organic stone ground Italian flour. The result are slices of pizza you want to savor because of the fresh ingredients.

Prior to bringing out our pizza, our waitress brought us the Pate Di Fegatini ($13), an appetizer composed of homemade chicken liver pate, San Marzano jam and wood fired bread.

Courtesy of May Chan

Again, the place prizes itself for its fresh components, like its San Marzano tomatoes purposely grown in Naples for this sophisticated occasion.

That’s not to say that Pizzana’s not kid-friendly, as we saw indecisive groups of kids trickling in to devour their wood-fired meatballs and fried zucchini.

Let’s not forget their dessert, which will get your palette salivating if you don’t want to travel down to Sprinkles. We suggest trying the Panna Cotta with its salted caramel pretzel for its creamy vanilla goodness.

While Pizzana excels at delivering pizza for the stars, like Kate Hudson and Jennifer Garner, is it the best for us mere mortals, who have to curse through L.A. traffic to get here? We’re not quite sure.

However, we’re not opposed to returning to try the other wood-fired pizzas once the hype dies.

Father’s Office delivers no frills burger and beers

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Father's Office
Courtesy of Winnie Lin

Upon entering Father’s Office in Santa Monica, California, you’re carded as if you can only understand the food once you’ve reached adulthood.

A favorite burger place for Kendall Jenner, Father’s Office doesn’t have the hustle and bustle most tourist traps lure with the ocean view.

The menu, comprised of mostly beer, keeps its food simple. There’s not eight different burgers to choose from, there’s no substitutions for anything on the burger and there’s certainly no ketchup.

The inside of the establishment reflects that with little to no service. (You order at the bar.)

However, regulars don’t expect much here as a patron walks up to the bar to order “just a burger today.”

Courtesy of Winnie Lin

After hearing about the hype surrounding The Office Burger ($12.50), we didn’t hesitate with ordering it.

The melted caramelized onion with applewood bacon, gruyère and Maytag Blue Cheese meld the flavors with the dry-aged beef patty. Although the bun is nothing special other than it’s oval shape, the mediocrity helps with soaking the juices from the patty, the garlic butter and that sweetness expected from the caramelized onions. The arugula adds a freshness and texture to it the moment you take the first bite.

As for the sweet potato fries ($7.50) with roasted garlic, this is when the non-modification policy gets patrons riled up. The fries are paired with Cabrales blue cheese aioli. Not ketchup. Not ranch dressing.

While it’s not a big deal for some, the seasoned fries don’t actually require condiments at all.

Courtesy of May Chan

Making a trip to Father’s Office without trying one of its many (lists of beers) is a blasphemous act, so my friend opted for a dark beer and I, a light one, to sip in between dishes.

While the Anderson Valley Summer Solstice ($8) was subpar with its creamy caramel concoction, the Avery Liliko’i Kepolo ($8) gave off a delightful passion fruit aftertaste before we shared our next course.

The plate of Spicy Stout Ribs ($16) we dug into had an orange blossom glaze to it with a hint of spice. Even though the ribs, under shredded scallions, were cooked to perfection, the thick sauce was reminiscent of Chinese soy sauce glaze. Yes, it was delicious, but was it worth it when you can tend to a Chinese restaurant and grab something similar? We just expected better.

Courtesy of May Chan

Overall, is Kendall right in saying “this burger goes down in history?”

It’s certainly hard to say without a lot of globetrotting burger expertise under our belt, but we’ll definitely be making a reoccurring appearance when we want to indulge in more than just In-N-Out.

Quarters Korean BBQ dishes out quality over quantity

Quarters Korean BBQ
Courtesy of May Chan

When Teen Wolf‘s Arden Cho initially recommended Quarters, a Korean barbecue restaurant sprinkled amongst many, she wasn’t kidding about the wait time.

The 6th Street location in Los Angeles’ Koreatown looks like your favorite late-night joint, fashioned with exposed brick and purposeful antique vents to accommodate all the meat grilling to come.

Off to the side of the entrance, the beautiful bar provides patrons the perfect atmosphere to bring their dates to try their version of margaritas, the Quarters Ritas.

Onlookers from the patio can spot the sports car crowd slowly creep by to drop passengers off hurriedly getting ahead of the line.

Forty-five minutes in, the staff lead us to our table of two filled with your staple banchan. From kimchi to pickled radishes, the small dishes cleanse your palette in between devouring the meat.

While parties of two or more can opt for combos, we chose à la carte dishes to sample the variety of meat.

Courtesy of May Chan

The concept behind Quarters is the opposite of the economical all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue. With the portion of the meats, being quarter-pound “tapas,” the restaurant focuses on quality over quantity, but does the price match?

It depends on who you ask. For those voracious eaters out there, this might not be your cup of soju if you’re part of a large party, because the bill adds up. There are combos but from observing other parties, it’s not filling.

Nonetheless, this would definitely appeal to newly minted couples craving Korean barbecue without eating more than half your body weight.

Courtesy of May Chan

If you can tolerate a high level of spiciness, you may want to order the Spicy Back Ribs Fondue. The gochujang heavily marinaded ribs come in a griddle, already sizzling in peppers and pineapple, as it bubbles in cheddar cheese.

Fair warning, though, these ribs will make you befriend the infamous ramen from the “Spicy Noodle Challenge” with no problem.

For those who enjoy a little kick, the spicy pork belly would definitely be noteworthy to order. The quality of these fattening pieces goes well dipped in their chili sauce. However, their sesame oil sauce complements the Seasoned Boneless Short Rib. Seasoned so well, the meat just melts in your mouth, with it being a popular dish among patrons.

Courtesy of May Chan

Those ordering five “tapas” or more receive a free steamed egg and fondue. The steamed egg I’ll pass, but the cheesy dipped fondue is a must amongst millennials itching for that epic gluttonous Instagram shot.

While Quarters is worth trying, should this be your regular Korean barbecue spot? Unfortunately, even with its quality customer service and quality meats, it’s a once in a blue moon joint for that portion. Sorry, Arden.

China Fun restaurant, make the most of your experience

TheCelebrityCafe.com, internship

If you want a delicious and fun experience,  China Fun located at 1221 2nd Ave. New York, NY 10065 may be your place to go and it may not, each person will have a different view of their experience. You can go and form your own opinions. I, personally didn’t have the best experience.

Now don’t get me wrong, no place is perfect. But my experience could have been better than it was. My sister and I were seated. My sister got us our soups and the hot tea.

Our waitress, which also had a hard time understanding us because of the language barrier, made it difficult to put orders in. Not to mention, she did not have a pleasant personality. 

For our orders my sister, who is a vegetarian, got their Shrimp with Lobster Sauce and I ordered a Singapore Style Curry Flavored Chow Mei Fun.

When we received our orders my sister started eating and found a piece of meat in the lobster sauce. She asked me to taste it to verify that it is meat. It was in fact a piece of ground pork mixed into the sauce in her dish. This is a vegetarian’s nightmare!

We asked the waitress about the dish and she just kept telling us what is in the dish. We tried to explain to her that the dish should not have meat in it. She then sent the manager over, who insisted that pork being inside the dish is a “thing.” I then explained to him that it is not a “thing” and that the dish should not have meat in it. We went back and forth for a moment, but then I told him that if there is meat in a dish then it should be listed in the menu so a consumer who is a vegetarian doesn’t get meat in their food that should otherwise be meatless.

mixed veggies (4) I asked him to bring the menu over so I can point out that the dish did not list meat being served in it. He seemed upset that the menu didn’t list it. I give kudos to him for trying to make a bad situation better. He made the waitress take the dish with meat away and sent over a fresh dish that had no meat in it. This manager gets bonus points for being in this situation as he rectified the meat in the dish dilemma, even though now both my sister and myself have a poor taste in our mouths.

After that happened, it appeared that they rolled the red carpet out when they should have been this way from the start. The manager switched out our not-so-pleasant-waitress for one with a better disposition. Whenever we picked up our heads, all the waitresses would make their way towards us as if now they were on high alert. This new waitress we had was pleasant and she seemed to care a bit more about us. She was talkative and tended to all our needs and wants, but only because of what had happened, which is a shame.

The restaurant was pretty empty compared to how many food deliveries were going out, which is typical for a Chinese food eatery that has dine-in and takeout.

The meals themselves were nothing to write home about. If I was a person who lived or worked in the area of China Fun, it would not be a place I would consider going to for a second time.

I am originally from New York City and currently live in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and my sister lives in Winfield, Alabama. She was visiting at the time so I took her as my guest and drove several miles from Pa for “this type of experience.”

After we left, we actually stopped by a hot dog stand to get the NYC foods we enjoyed so much when we lived there. We grabbed knishes, soft pretzels and dirty water dogs. The foods that we know and love made this trip worth it. I rated the overall experience with one star while my sister told me I was being too kind.

China Fun needs to step it up if they want to bring in more business.

Raymi

Raymi is simply a must for delicious Peruvian Cuisine and yummy Pisco cocktails. Raymi, located at 43 West 24th Street, New York NY 10010 is a modern Peruvian kitchen which expertly blends Peruvian, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish cuisine for a delightful and totally unique dining experience. We arrived to the busy restaurant around 7:15 and were immediately greeted by General Manager Piero Rodriguez. He showed us to our table and we talked about how exciting it would be to try some of the restaurants key dishes. I especially loved the ambiance and lighting of the establishment.

We started off with “Chifles” or plaintain schips served with a yummy smoke hauncaina sauce. Peiro brought us the “Inca trail” tasting flights. These were a unique sampling of their signature “Pisco” Sour (The National Drink of Peru) with lime bitters, egg whites and syrup (refreshing), The “Raymi” with mango, passion fruit, lime and pisco sour foam (fruity and delish!), The “Blackberry Thyme Machacado” with blackberry, thyme, pisco and lime (my personal favorite) and the “Pineapple Machacado” with pisco, fresh pineapple, sage and lime (sweet and delicious).

Next up we brought a delicious Ceviche and Tiradito tasting sampler. A ceviche by definition is a raw seafood dish marinated in citris and spices. We tried the “Salmon” which was salmon, peanuts, sesame seeds with a wonton on top and very delicious with a Chinese influence. My personal fave was the “Mixto” which consisted of aji rocoto, shrimp, squid, octopus and sweet potato. The “Tuna” with Japanese influence featured white soy yuzu, avocado and cucumber, and finally the “Corvina” was a mixture of lime, red onion, sweet potato, cilantro and habanero – spicy yet yummy.

Next up we were treated to the “Tamale Verde” which was simply wonderful. It consists of a crispy yet moist pork shoulder, cilantro, salsa criolla and rocoto mayo. The “Causa” was unique and beautifully plated with aji amarillo, tuna, octopus, salmon, avocado, spicy mayo on top of a delicious cold potato puree.

The next course arrived with “Lomo Saltado”; absolutely the most fantastic hangar steak with soy, tomato, red onion and crispy fries. It was served alongside jasmine rice. The “A Lo Macho” was a terrific combination of halibut, charred octopus (the best!), shrimp, squid, and mussels in a creamy aji panca sauce.

As if we had anymore room, dessert did not disappoint. The “Peruvian Crispy Donut” was a sweet donut immersed in chancaca honey (I could eat this dish everyday) and we also tried the “Mascarpone Cheesecake”, with coriander, pisco oranges and coconut sorbet. It was very refreshing and the perfect ending to the meal.

My entire Raymi experience was absolutely perfect in every way. The staff was pleasant and attentive, the food was delicious and the ambiance was perfect. I look forward to a return trip.

For more information please visit their website at www.rayminyc.com. You can also visit them on facebook at www.facebook.com/Rayminyc. Restaurant phone number is 212-929-1200 for reservations.

Galli Restaurant

Galli Restaurant, located at 45 Mercer Street New York NY 10013 truly lives up to its claim of “Italian comfort food”. Founders Steven and Karen Gallo with Michael Forrest aimed to create a neighborhood style restaurant that truly had you feel like being in your “mama’s house for Sunday dinner”. And that is exactly how I felt. Exposed brick and vents give the restaurant a comfortable and at home, lofty feel.

First up: Drinks; Galli has the most unique and interested cocktail list. All drinks are made with homemade syrups and infusions. We tried Daria’s Melons first; a refreshing combination of sapphire gin, campari, fresh lemon, pink peppercorn syrup and fresh watermelon. Truly the perfect summer drink. Next we sampled Sara’s Wake Up Call; a delicious blended coffee adult beverage with corsair vanilla vodka, stone barn coffee liquor, chilled espresso and cynar. At the suggestion of our wonderful waiter Brooks (he was wonderful and great with suggestions!) finished the night with the Lansky made with Rittenhouse Rye, Aperol, Fresh Lemon and Ramazzotti Amaro. All drinks were a refreshing change from the same old boring cocktail menu and I loved their unique style.

For starters we went with Brook’s suggestion of Baked Clams and Baby Riceballs. The freshest little neck clams mixed with bread crumbs in a lemony butter sauce didn’t last 10 seconds on the table. The Riceballs were fantastic as well; a crispy on the outside yet moist on the inside combination of rice, peas, chopped meat and light pomodoro (exactly like my aunt used to make them I may add).

Our pasta selection was the Gamberi: perfectly al dente rigatoni pasta with shrimp, broccoli, and mozzarella in a yummy pink sauce. I could order this pasta over and over again; truly a fantastic comfort pasta (living up the restaurant design)!

Our entree selections were the Chicken Francese and the Veal Saltimbocca. The Chicken Francese, moist pan seared cutlets in a white wine and lemon butter sauce were served with roasted veggies (broccoli, zucchini and carrots). It was hands down the most delicious francese I personally have ever tried. The Veal Saltimbocca was the perfect combination of veal scallopini, sage, proscuitto and spinach. It was simply perfect and I could have dipped bread in the gravy for hours. All our choices were a great sized portion and truly had us feeling like we were eating family favorite recipes.

As if we had room for dessert; it had to be done. The Tiramisu was outrageous. A creamy and rich joining of lady fingers, espresso and mascarpone and a great size for sharing. We also sampled the nutella sliders, a unique pairing of nutella and strawberries on a sandwich style brioche bun and topped with powdered sugar. Yum Yum Yum! An expertly brewed cappuccino and macchiato ended our night and had us in a true food coma.

A huge thank you to the staff at Galli (especially the delightful Brooks!) for a wonderful evening of cocktails, dinner and desserts. It was the perfect summer night for some true Italian comfort food.

Please visit Galli online for more information at www.gallirestaurant.com. You can also find them on facebook at www.facebook.com/GalliRestaurant.

A Visit to Sea Cove Italian American Bar and Grill in Center Moriches, New York

Sea Cove Italian-American Bar and Grill, located in downtown Center Moriches, New York, is a great local place for a night out or to help with your catering needs.

Remodeled, and under new ownership since just over a year ago, this restaurant is charming and elegant with its fireplace and wood accents. There is a wonderful homey feeling being in the dining area. Part of that is because the patrons are a wide variety of ages, from infants to grandparents, and all are welcome.

I brought my family for a Sunday dinner and loved the experience. Our server, Gina, was wonderful and very helpful with suggestions.

My older daughter, Charlotte has developed a fondness for mussel’s marinara, so we chose those as an appetizer, along with mozzarella sticks to suit mine and Catie’s tastes. I always try mussels, hoping to get some of the enjoyment my family does from them. I never did, until these came out. The mussels were tender and well-seasoned with chunks of garlic and infused with the tomato sauce. The mozzarella sticks were artfully presented in a stack, instead of plopped on a plate, and the sauce with them was wonderful.

Next up came our salads. My husband had a house salad, which came with his meal, tossed with a red wine vinaigrette. Charlotte and I shared the Sicilian salad, which is filled with goodies like olives and provolone, and tossed in the house dressing. We probably should have shared with the others, but it was too good. Gina said this was a hot lunch item.

Taking a moment to breathe, I was able to really look around the dining room. It was well-filled for a school night in a local downtown. The wood-planked walls were highlighted with plaid curtains in traditional Italian-restaurant colors. The blend of Italian-American was shown really well, not only in the menu, but in the dining room itself. The prettiest touches were the stained glass windows with sea motifs.

Dinner arrived soon after, not too fast, which is always nice. Especially since the servings were huge. Charlotte chose a hamburger, and got a hand-crafted grilled patty, while Catie stretched her comfort zone with the smokey macaroni and cheese. I had shrimp in a pink sauce with artichokes and mushrooms, while my husband had a patron favorite Capellini D’Angelo – a light red sauce with shredded crabmeat.

One of my pet-peeves when going out is getting shrimp with tails on covered in sauce. There is just no easy – or clean – way of eating them. Sea Cove got it right by presenting the shrimp tail-up on the plate. It’s the little things that make a difference.

Catie wasn’t overly fond of the smokey flavor in the mac and cheese, so I would explain the flavor to your kids. I can say the dish was excellent, with corkscrew pasta and a really creamy cheese sauce. It was served in a crock that kept the cheese in its gooey form to enjoy to the bottom.

Like Charlotte’s hamburger, there are many other options on the menu like steak, ribs, pulled pork and pizza for anyone who isn’t up for traditional Italian fare. The children’s menu saves parents from embarrassment by noting that the tomato sauce could be replaced with butter – you know what I mean. There are also family-style choices so a group can try a few things easily.

By the time dessert was mentioned we had fully settled in. I meant it when I said it was a very homey atmosphere. The girls could be kids, and while we shushed them, the other patrons were wonderful. So as we began the process of choosing which sweet to pick we used the menus as a reading lesson. The girls took turns reading the choices to us. They, of course, choose ice cream. Both were very happy when Gina asked if they wanted chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Catie asked for cherries, and Charlotte requested to get two cherries. Their eyes popped with excitement when the sundaes came.

My husband and I had no idea what we wanted so we asked Gina what was the favorite. Of course, that was the molten chocolate cake, which was the one item we, well I, had nixed. She suggested the Caramel Apple Granny pie, a suggestion that I jumped at. I would go back just to have pie. Seriously. This warm custard filled with tart apples and topped with caramel was like eating a caramel apple – but better.

Aside from the main dining room, Sea Cove features a banquet area and a newly renovated bar area, with a gorgeous tin ceiling. One of the other things I loved about the restaurant was the bar was completely separate from the dining room, one to the left, the other to the right when you walked in, so each had its own bubble to be in for watching the game or having a family dinner.

To top off everything Sea Cove does off-premise catering as well, for your parties at home.

I truly enjoyed my time at Sea Cove and encourage everyone to stop in and try it – for lunch, dinner or a quick beer, you won’t be disappointed.

Visit Sea Cove Italian American Bar and Grill online for more information and a full menu.