The Unvegan

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Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame 2017
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‘Italian’

Back in the Pie Life Again

The name says it all...
The name says it all…

I will be the first to admit that I had a West Side bias when I made the move to Pasadena. I figured I would spend a whole lot of time on that side of town for meals out, but over and over again Pasadena has impressed me. Perhaps most impressive of all is the pizza scene, with The Luggage Room and Pizza of Venice already tackled by yours truly, I finally set my sights on Pie Life Pizza.

Following Caesar to Pietro’s

This is chicken parmesan perfection.
This is chicken parmesan perfection.

Once upon a time my wife had the best Caesar salad in Little Italy and wanted to relive that moment. Instead of going on a wild goose chase, I decided to help her out by searching the interwebs for the best Caesar in New York. This led us to Pietro’s, an institution that has been around forever and looked like a great place to conduct mob business. It was strangely completely empty at 3:00 in the afternoon on a Monday, but it seemed like more of a dinner spot anyway.

Italian Sandies at Parm

Two heavenly halves.
Two heavenly halves.

The chicken parmesan sandwich somehow escapes ridicule as one of the most carby delicious foods. If you threw fried mozzarella on a sandwich with some grilled chicken and marinara people would think you were insane, but here we are in a world that allows for breaded chicken on a sandwich and I heard a spot called Parm on the Upper West Side knew how to make a pretty good one.

A Late Slice at Baker’s Pizza

Great late-night choices.
Great late-night choices.

After a long evening of drinking in New York City, the only reasonable thing to do is grab at least one slice of pizza. Such is what I did in the East Village when I essentially stumbled into Baker’s Pizza. As fate would have it, I ran into my drunk friend on his way out (he had left the bar five minutes before), which convinced me that I was in the right place. Just like all pizza by the slice places in New York, there was a display case showcasing the available pies and my eyes wandered to the one topped with meatballs and ricotta.

A Pizza Sandwich at Broadway Pizza

Best combination ever?
Best combination ever?

While the Twin Cities are certainly renowned for the Jucy (or Juicy) Lucy, they are not without other culinary creations. I stumbled upon one of these accidentally when ordering from Broadway Pizza. You see, this is a pizza and sandwich place, but one item on the menu was a combination of the two, calling itself the Pizza Sandwich. My curiosity got the best of me and I ordered it.

A Mediterranean Evening at Catalan

A bowl of duck.
A bowl of duck.

The Palm Springs area isn’t exactly known for its culinary prowess. You see, septuagenarians don’t really care how their food tastes as long as they can be done with dinner by 6:00. Nonetheless, there are a few places willing to take some risks and offer unique eats (even if they do sport an early bird special to boot). One of these is Catalan in Rancho Mirage, a Mediterranean restaurant in the sense of the European parts of the Mediterranean at least.

Pork and Booze at Celestino

All the good things.
All the good things.

Pork and booze are easily two of the greatest things that can be consumed on the planet, if not just two of the greatest things in general. Celestino in Pasadena is fully aware of this and has combined them in a pasta dish worth writing about. It is called the Pennette Con Prosciutto e Vodka, but it may as well be called Paradiso.

Meaty Baggage at The Luggage Room

Maximus?
Maximus?

The LA area isn’t exactly known for its pizza. Yet, while the nation has concentrated its pizza efforts on New York and Chicago, LA has quietly built up some great pizza places. I’ve done my best to review them as they’ve come, and the latest to hop on my radar is The Luggage Room in Pasadena. Based on the name, you might not expect pizza, but you’d be wrong because that’s pretty much all The Luggage Room does.