Go Public

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If ever you find yourself inundated by the drone of noise, madness and grit that is Hollywood and Highland (for me it was a dance class at IDA) and you are looking for something absolutely phenomenal, something so delicious you can savor every succulent bite and every morsel… I cordially recommend to you Public Kitchen and Bar, right smack in the middle of the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard literally steps across the street from Hollywood and Highland shopping area and mating grounds. If you’re here for the first time you almost certainly will miss it. I lived in LA for years and never knew existed. Partly because it is completely closed off the outside world.

I started with the housemase cavatelli. Strike that, I started with their signature roles – for a $5 surcharge- that were perfectly fluffy and chewy. The butter was imported, and there was flavored smoked salt sprinkled gently on top. I personally have such a penchant for smoked salt I keep several versions of it at home.

I have a strong love for handmade pasta; maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Italy before. Some chefs just simply know how to blend ingredients perfectly. The sauce was fixed and stuck to the moist and chewy pasta. There was the perfect blending of spice, English peas, breadcrumbs and certainly some Italian imported crispy meat morsel. Every single bite was literally an explosion of flavor.

I then had the little gem salad which came with ribbons of melon, prosciutto, ricotta salata, and then finished off with rose petals. Exquisite.

The prices are anything but cheap, which kind of flies in the face of this somewhat English pub style decor but it is worth every penny. Extremely comfortable boots and chairs and lighting are all of a plus.
Other choices included gazpacho, brussels sprouts, all sorts of meat and fish, fresh ricotta, beat salad with lavender, and grilled octopus and crab cakes.

For dessert they have passionfruit panna cotta, a Rocky road crunch bar, peanut butter and jelly brioche, strawberry shortcake, and plenty of dessert options for two like a chocolate soufflé cake with prune and Armagnac ice cream and crispy rice. If I had another stomach I certainly would try the caramel ganache with passionfruit, white chocolate and almonds.

Don’t sleep on this one.

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Mare’ka

ByDayWhere to begin with this place?  I’ll start by saying I have never taken more people to one establishment than I have to Mare’kas. I have had so many positive experiences here it is hard to keep them straight.  I’m a well travelled, well fed foodie and and  regularly scour the Valley searching for the perfect places to eat.  I have parked in different neighborhoods and just walked different parts of town looking at menus and ambiance and food because really, there’s nothing like a phenomenal meal, is there?

I remember being greeted by a very attractive, woman with an incredible sense of style.  Turns out she’s the owner. Friends, you heard right, this young attractive woman and her team (notably Katy) have created a little haven in the Valley to feed your mind, body and soul.  They have at least 100 hand crafted drinks, all using organic produce and high end supplements! The things they accomplish behind that tiny bar is mind bending.  I’ve been giving a great deal of thought of how to describe this place because despite it’s size there is just so much you can do here.  For me and my grounp of friends Mare’kas is a dream come true. I have:

– taken a sick girlfriend there to get better and have Katy custom blend her a ‘kick in the face’ wellness shot

– taken my best friends there for a light organic lunch made with love

– gone in alone several times just to savor the smoothie and elixir menu and try out what’s good

– gone in before dance class for an energy boosting smoothie

– gone to see a comedy show

– gone to listen to great live music

– gone to have my cards read just for fun

– gone in to make new friends and left with several

– brought friends in for a late night of sipping spicy hot chocolates and handmade gelato

– gone in and used free wifi to get work done

– brought alcohol drinking friends in for their unique selection of spirits and elixirs

– brought coffee drinking friends in for a reishi mushroom espresso when they needed to clear their mind.

Where else can you go to have HEALTHY, ORGANIC drinks custom tailored just for you depending on your mood or how you’re feeling? Where else can you go for a smoked salmon bagel one day, a vegetarian curry spinach salad the next and a chocolate orange drinking chocolate the next?  They will even custom tailor 1-7 day juice fasts just for you and what you need in the moment.

Mare’kas is not a restaurant, or a bar or a lounge it’s anything you want it to be. It’s a health conscious persons dream. It’s a place to stop after or before yoga or a dance class,  It’s a place to bring both local and out of town friends to for drinks that are actually GOOD for your body.  It’s a place to catch a live performance or listen to drum and bass.  It’s  place to socialize and try new and exotic flavors that you didn’t know existed.

A couple things you should know – Mare’ka is small with BIG energy. It’s cozy and quaint- so when it gets busy they have a small area to work from.  Believe me they are doing their best, given the intimacy of the space.  The fact that you can have a delicious natural meat pizza or vegetarian gourmet salad come out of that tiny little bar is astounding.   As much as I talk up the food you should know it’s not a full dinner or lunch menu with 200 items but there are several great meals that cover a wide palate of flavors. I consider the fact that Mare’kas actually serves food at all, much less fresh and organic food, the icing on the cake with all the elixirs, drinks and smoothies you can order.  It’s also a little bit hidden but just look for the big purple sign near the corner of Coldwater and Ventura across from StarBucks… a place you’ll never want to go back to after being here.

Mare’kas is a rare gem in this world.  I wouldn’t hesitate to make a special request if they’re not busy, or chat up the girls to educate yourself on what effect different fruits, veggies and herbs have on the body. Thank you Mare’ka for an absolutely magical experience every single time.

Mare’ka is located at

12747 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
Neighborhood: Studio City

Their website is marekalive.com and their phone number is (818) 509-1664

Umami

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With the many different food styles I’ve embraced over the years, burger joints certainly do not head my list for great lunches or dinners. When I think about what I’m actually eating; ground-up cow on a bun, it doesn’t sound too appetizing. Stick with me though this is actually a positive review. I remember back in the 50s burger joints were in. I remember back in the 80s burger joints for it. I remember burger joints being revived with restaurants like Bob’s big boy, and Johnny rockets. I remember burger joints in the 90s springing up. And now here we are in 2012 and the American classic has simply become ubiquitous. In Los Angeles where hamburger is as easy to obtain as an actor waiting tables, the bar has been set higher. We are now offered choices through the humanity of the cattle which we eat. It’s very refreshing to see burger joints that boast free range, hormone free, antibiotic free, grass pad et cetera et cetera. It’s also nice to see some vegetarian options finally making their way to American menus.

I think Umami Burger has done a great job on improving a classic. This can certainly be seen by the long lines extending out the door and around the corner Of Ventura Blvd., Valley. It seems to me that no matter what time of day or night and I drive by this place, there are always people eager to eat Umami Burger. They have figured out something that is out burger has figured out many years ago, and that’s how to create a nonstop flow traffic by serving burgers. Frankly I would be thrilled to learn the secret. So what differentiates Umami burger from Ameeri at other places that include Fuddruckers, the counter, Bob’s big boy, in and out, McDonald’s, Burger King, red Robin, etc. etc. is the upscale nature of the burger itself. From my understanding, you get antibiotic and hormone free beef from Neiman Ranch, as well as a fine selection of menu items which includes a turkey burger and veggie burger. Seen above is the RU tuna burger which on my particular visit was very fishy but had it not been would’ve probably been rather delicious.

I appreciate that they use brioche buns, I appreciate the uniquely flavored ketchup, and I appreciate the unique flavor. Definitely worth a try!

Eggplant

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Living on Sushi Row in Los Angeles, I’ve got access to such an abundance of sushi restaurants that I actually find myself not enjoying it as often as I can. When I discovered Eggplant, I can immediately tell just by the outside appearance that something was different. It’s nestled next to a guitar and drum store, (very cool) with only three parking spaces in its driveway, in a little cobblestone Asian building that looks like a relic right out of Japan, though it’s sitting in Ventura Boulevard. Refreshingly also, it is not in a 1970s strip mall. I’ve uploaded to pictures of their extensive specials menu. Note this is not the actual folding menu that has 100 other items, nor is it the disposable piece of paper to write down your regular sushi order. All of these are their special creations! There are so many new fun and unusual things to try here that I almost don’t know where to start, but don’t worry, I know just the thing:

Eggplant’s specialty, is the use of lots of vegetables, particularly Japanese eggplant and pumpkin. They probably serve eggplant for five different ways. One of my favorite things to get there however is the honey pumpkin dish. It’s sliced sautéed pumpkin in the rich sweet honey sauce and goes perfectly with any other Japanese accompaniment. They also have a light pumpkin dish with ponzu sauce, a pumpkin vegetarian role, a warm pumpkin dish with her housemates sesame sauce, and even pumpkin miso soup. All of these are a fantastic addition to what normally consists of standard sushi fare: raw seafood, seaweed and rice.

Spicy tuna on top of crispy rice has long been a Los Angeles staple in restaurants like Katsu-ya for many years. Eggplant does their own take on this dish by doing a sweet salmon on top of the crispy rice. This is also in my favorites. Something else I can’t stop ordering as well is there fresh salmon sushi, and most of the time it is some of the freshest I’ve ever had. In addition to taste, I also look for how buttery the fish can be, and if it’s melting in my mouth I know I’m in the right place.

What I love about Eggplant is that they do multiple versions of similar dishes, so you can get Shishito peppers just grilled or you can get them such a delicious sauce. a few types of spinach, several types of eggplant and pumpkin- you really can hone your palette here.

Eggplant specializes in hand rolls too and most of them are offered with soy paper. Some are very simple such as blue crab and avocado and some get even more complex. Literally there is something for anyone in this little restaurant. The waitresses are always sweet and of course are Japanese and don’t speak much English. The decor is simple, and the table and chairs are austere. The owners are timelessly in love with The Beatles and so almost every time I sit in there, without fail there is some transcendental Beatles track playing that really makes the vibe interesting. However, this is a fantastic little date spot, business spot, place to just grab a bite to eat by yourself and not feel encroached upon, and even a place for the whole family. There is zero pretense unlike a few others I’ve been to where people seem to feel self important simply because they are in that establishment.

Eggplant is nearly walking distance from my house so I have frequented it a lot, and I can easily say that I’ve never had a bad meal. A nice little touch is the complimentary little dish of cucumber with their house made sesame sauce right when you sit down. In the highly competitive sushi market of Los Angeles, Eggplant in my book earns five stars for food, variety, taste, quality, creativity, and all-around good vibes.
Eggplant is located at

11266 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604-3135

Best Pizza in LA

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Having lived in Italy for over two years in two different cities and having traveled much of the country itself, I feel relatively confident speaking as an authority for phenomenal pizza. As a child I was infatuated with deep dish. I used to love thick, chewy fast food pizza styles such as dominoes, roundtable, and don’t forget little Caesars PizzaPizza!
This is no longer the case is I am definitely more conscious about how much dough and bread I put into my body despite being a true lover of homemade bread. I’m a fan of the thin crust!

The two best pizza restaurants in Los Angeles are Pitfire Pizza in North Hollywood on the corner of Magnolia and Lankershim, and Pizzeria Mozza on the corner of Highland and Melrose in Hollywood. These two places have mastered the art of pizza making such a way that they will leave you wondering what the other 500,000 pizza establishments in the world were ever thinking. There should be some sort of law against bad pizza making.

These two are both very different places in almost every sense of the word from price point, two ingredients, the style and presentation. I first discovered Pit Fire years ago when I was taking classes at one of LA’s most renowned dance studios at the time, Millennium Dance Complex, which is roughly 4 units down. I walked over to the outside area that has a fire in the center area, tried a pizza and I was in love. The name of the restaurant speaks for itself: Pit Fire. The number one essential rule and having delicious pizza is that the pizza must not be cooked inside some silly pizza oven. In 95% of restaurants, if I walk in and see a pizza oven in the kitchen I will walk right out. There is simply no way to get the flavor of outstanding pizza without cooking it in a wood fired oven.

Just look at the magnificence that stands before you the above photograph.  It is a winter squash pizza with Swiss chard, light fontina cheese, pumpkin seeds, and I usually add marinara sauce and roasted cauliflower. I will then always request no burn so that it has no blackened areas.  Once it arrives I give it a drizzle of spicy pizza oil and a smattering of Parmesan cheese and roasted red chili flakes. The flavor explosion that results is nothing short of spectacular.

Is often hard to resist one of their freshly baked chocolate chip cookies that always sits at the register.  They literally command my hand to grab one. On a hot summer day, their watermelon cooler is also fantastic!

Mario Batalli’s Pizzeria Mozza, which stands almost subserviently next to the elegant fine dining restaurant Osteria Mozza next door (another top choice) is an entirely different category of pizza altogether. This pizza establishment may just be some of the best pizza I have ever had in the world!   The freshness and quality of the ingredients is second to none. The sourdough crust it is exquisitely crispy on the outside and tender and she rearming inside what have you reflecting back on the experience for the next several days. If I could make the love this pizza I would do it. If you do not speak Italian however, good luck figuring out what everything is. There are so many unusual flavors on this menu you can literally come back over 20 times and not have the same pizza twice.

And for as much as I love complex flavor, new things, and exciting combinations, I often return to the classics: prosciutto arugula, margarita, sausage pizza, squash blossom pizza, and yes even a pepperoni pie. This restaurant has the capacity to turn the most adamant vegan into a carnivore, as it certainly has for me.

There is nothing more that needs to be going into your mouth at this establishment other than the pizza, however the side dishes are truly amazing. I have had great success with the meatballs, the white bean bruschetta, any of their assorted salads, the fried squash blossoms stuff with her cottage cheese, and most importantly the roasted cauliflower  with red onion and mint yogurt garlic dip.

It is extremely challenging to save room for the butterscotch budino (pudding) but you must do so!!  You will feel like a small child who has been given something sweet for the first time. Zero complaints for the olive oil ice cream either, much less anything else on their dessert menu. It’s also sometimes fun to walk around the corner to the Mozza To Go takeout area and pick up some Italian desserts there.

Make no mistake, pizzeria Mozza is fine dining pizza at its best, and the owners, teachers and employees all know this. Generally you’ll need to make a reservation well or you can do is I often do and have lunch or dinner at some obscure hour of the day such as lunch at 4 PM or dinner at 10:30 at night. At these times you can almost be guaranteed to walk in and actually get a table versus sitting at the bar right away.

Pit Fire on the other hand is much more laid back. Where the price point for Mozza averages about $20 for pizza, Pit Fire is roughly half of that. In fact the super decadent pizza photographed above costs only $10. Except for peak times, there is almost never a wait, and you can literally walk in, order the counter, sit down and wait for your order to be delivered. It’s an outstanding lunch or dinner place when you don’t need to impress. they also actually have a full menu of other soups, salads, I need to use, and main dishes as well but you, like me, may find that you never have a need to bother.

Buon Appetito!

© 2017 Tari.Tv