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LA (THIRD STREET): THE BEST PLACE TO GET BREAKFAST PIZZA [Olio!]

By Nora Zelevansky / October 19th, 2010

Pizzeria-olio

You may have seen yesterday's Daily Candy, which I wrote about Olio Pizzeria on the corner of Crescent Heights & Third.

The story kinda speaks for itself (if the above picture doesn't seduce you alone).  But I'd just like to tell a little tale–a fable really–to underline the fact that you need to check this place out:

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Once upon a time, like two months ago, a girl was sitting on her couch watching something really intellectually stimulating like ABC Family's Make It or Break It.

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Suddenly, her husband came home, all out of breath and excited.  (He wasn't out of breath BECAUSE he was excited though.  It was because he doesn't get enough exercise and there are steps leading up to our–I mean, their–apartment.)

Anyway, he handed her a pamphlet and said that someone was giving out samples because they'd be opening a new pizza place in our neighborhood soon and that the pizza was amazing.

The next day, after a VERY filling brunch, the girl and two of her bffs were walking down the street, when she remembered the guy giving out samples.  Despite their stuffed bellies, the girls wandered over to his corner, where a crowd had formed around a mobile pizza kitchen.

The pizzas were instead awesome (and the owner was the NICEST GUY EVER), but then–just as the girls were leaving and felt they couldn't eat another bite of food–he handed them his version of a danish.  It was wood-fired on pizza dough with lemon cream, fresh blueberries and a bit of burnt brown sugar and it was the best thing EVER.

In fact, the most stuffed girl among them, who had at first rejected even a bite, asked if she could eat the rest.  Then they got into a HUGE bloody fight and tore each other limb from limb over the danish!

No.  That last part never happened.  But the story needed a little excitement, no?

Anyway, run don't walk.  That's the moral of our tale.  That and you should totally watch Make It or Break It.  And Drewser should get more exercise.

The End.

xo – N. 

NYC (PARK SLOPE): THE BEST CRISPY FRIED STRING BEANS W/ GARLIC AIOLI

By Nora Zelevansky / June 22nd, 2010

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Newsflash!  You may want to sit down for this one.  Okay, ready?  Here goes: I like fried food.

Yes, I know.  This is enormously surprising, considering my weekly love poems to mozzarella sticks and all.

So, when I went to Park Slope's new Fornino destination, I went with the above string beans foremost in my mind instead of the signature grilled pizza.  And, I'm not gonna lie, the string beans were really really good.

Fortunately, so were the pizzas!  I was with a big group (Andre, his fam and C.), so we got to try several different pizzas and they were all good.  For lactards, the Margherita Classica (below) is made with buffalo mozzarella.

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So, this is one of those situations, where I was really hungry and sort of inhaled the food before I took pics (oooopsies).  But the pizzas: Napoletana (no cheese), Vongole (recommended by friends), Monzese (fennel sausage) were all pretty much delicious.  I recommend!

Pizza, pizza!  Newsflash!  What am I talking about???

xo – N.

BROOKLYN (WILLIAMSBURG): THE BEST AUTUMNAL PIZZA & BUTTER RUM ITALIAN SODA

By Nora Zelevansky / November 10th, 2009

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Of course, more so in NYC than in LA, making a name for yourself in the pizza biz is tricky.  I guess first a distinction needs to be made between by-the-slice and a more high-end artisan version with farm-to-table ingredients and the works.  But, still, the competition is stiff, so standing out depends not only on creating the most amazing version, but also on innovating new types.

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Well, I had the extreme pleasure of tasting some such new-fangled innovations (or at least unique bites) at Motorino in Williamsburg, when they hosted me and my friend A.P. for dinner.

First of all, the setting is totally ideal for fall: cozy and comfy and down home with a small dining room and an open pizza oven kitchen (see above).  Second of all, A.P. and I are like the most annoying diners because, while we both LOVE to eat, we eat have dietary restrictions.  I can't do cow dairy; she can't do wheat.

That said, since pizza is basically wheat and cheese, we decided to cheat just a bit, but also do what we could to get around the whole issue.  As a lactard, of course, I LOVE any pizzeria that offers to replace cow milk mozzarella with buffalo on any pizza.  Thank you, MOTHER LOAD!

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[CLICK IMAGES TO EXPAND: A.P. perusing the menu, The Fashionista cocktail, Mortadella grilled and served with mustard, Humbolt Fog goat cheese]

From their relatively vast Italian soda menu, I ordered a Butter Rum soda that really tasted like candy–I loved it!  Ever since I found out I was lactarded, I have craved butter rum ice cream (though I previously hated all things remotely butterscotch-related), so anything in that vein makes me happy.  Then A.P. ordered the above Fashionista cocktail (we'll excuse the name) with aperol, white wine and orange.

After a delicious baby spinach salad, olives with preserved lemon and chili, mortadella grilled and served with tangy mustard (which I would never have thought to order unless the chef sent it, but it was amazing!), some bresaola and prosciutto with lemon and Humbolt Fog goat cheese served with figs and pistachios in honey (KILL ME NOW–the sweet, sour and salty combo is so good!), A.P. and I wondered if we could possibly eat another bite.

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[CLICK IMAGES TO EXPAND: Buffaline Pizza and Homemade Jelly Donuts and Chocolate Gelato]

But, where there's a will, there is definitely a way.  And faced with the simple, but unique Buffaline Pizza with mozzarella, olive oil, raw basil and sea salt and the seasonal (a revolving part of the menu) pizza with squash, pancetta, mozzarella and sage, we dug deep and found a way to get through a good portion.  It was DELICIOUS and really different than your usual tomato sauce version.  I'm not generally even a white pizza fan, as I always find it too rich, but the flavors were so unique (sweet, salty, tangy and sharp) that it was just cheesy heaven.

And, for dessert, we ordered the above homemade jelly donuts with chocolate gelato (which I believe had a fancier Italian name).  A.P. ate the ice cream and I, of course, devoured some of the donuts.  Cause that's just how we do in the hood.  If the hood, that is, is Williamsburg.

xo – N.

LA (HOLLYWOOD): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / February 12th, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

Every so often you wander into an LA spot and find yourself transported elsewhere: such is the case (in my book) with Hollywood's Bowery bistro, where–in an intimate, NYC West Village-esque, beautifully tiled space with specials scrawled across a chalk board–locals (like moi) dig on deeply flavorful burgers (served on English Muffins), wine and beer.  (The pharmacy parking lot on Sunset & Fairfax also transports, but that's more like to a East Village crack den circa 1985, so that's another story).

Well, according to Daily Candy's Weekend Guide today, the Bowery owners have launched a tasting room at their newest Hollywood spot: Pizzeria & Bar Delancy.  Obviously, a Lower East Side NYC-theme rules the roost and, while DC focuses on the vino situation, I think some of those pizzas sound pretty amazing.  Yes, in true lactard fashion, I especially like the sound of the Essex with Salumi, Cannelini Beans, Black Olives and Sheeps Milk Ricotta.

BTW–I am an olive fanatic.  Another fascinating tidbit about me.  And another must-try place for pizza.  Add that to the list . . . I'll get back to you with a full report!

xo – N.

LA (COSTA MESA): THE BEST NEW UPSCALE PIZZERIA

By Nora Zelevansky / January 28th, 2009

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Poor Costa Mesa. Unlike its famous (and infamous) siblings, this O.C. town has never hosted an MTV reality show or even Snoop Dogg.  Luckily, now David Myers (of Comme Ca, Boule and Sona fame) has opened Pizzeria Ortica, so C.M. has it's own claim to fame.

Now, anyone who is even partially responsible for Boule's Fleur de Sel eclairs is a GENIUS of epic proportions in my book (literally one of my favorite desserts of all time), so A. & I stopped into Myers' Pizzeria Ortica for lunch on the way down to San Diego this past weekend.  And I was psyched that we did: A. started with Charred Octopus (which he always loves).  I'm sometimes on the fence about the tentacle-touched foods, but this was so tasty and the consistency wasn't intense. I had the Roman Style Braised Artichokes with shaved ricotta salata, which were incredibly flavorful and delicious.

Pizza-wise, I thought the crust was nice and chewy.  My order was actually totally out of character for me, but yummy: Salsiccia e Finnocchio (which you know I didn't even attempt to say) with house-made sausage, caramelized fennel, mascarpone, red onion and buffalo grana.  Andrew's choice, Salame Piccante e Funghi (Margherita with spicy salami and mixed mushrooms), was even more up my alley. I could have eaten that for days . . .

And, speaking of eating for days, some unrelated info: if you don't know, it's Restaurant Week here in LA.  So a good time to sample some new spots for lower prices.

xo – N.