Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Dining

Despite the cool weather the poinsettias in front of Pinocchio's Pizza on North Lake Avenue looked festive yesterday. The cloudy skies made the white table cloths look all the more crisp.

Note that Big Mama's Rib Shack has poinsettias in their planters, too. And someone has planted more with the sidewalk tree.

I could use some good soul food right about now. And John and I are on a quest for the best pizza in town. Have you eaten at either of these establishments? Help us out. What's your review?


Cafe Observer said...

Yeah, ate at Big Mama's on N. Lake in the summer. I was brot there by my foodie soulmate. She thought it was Ok, in the past. But, once was enuf for me.

Service was poor & slow. And, that was during a near empty lunch period!

They have their "stars" for "Best Of", but I think Big Mama must've retired cuz I think her restaurants best years are behind her.

Now, lemme know bout that Pizza Parlour, P!

Shell Sherree said...

Well, if you ask if the toppings are fresh at Pinocchio's, you'll know if the waiter is fibbing.

Susan C said...

I have to vote thumbs down on both the pizza at Pinocchio's and the food/service at Big Mama's.

Margaret said...

Important question: Are you thinking thick crust or thin?

Petrea said...

I was thinking thin crust, Margaret, but so far these reviews aren't so good.

Pinocchio's used to be one block south. I think they were there a long time. When they moved into this larger place and spiffed up I thought they were doing well.

Big Mama's gets relatively good reviews, but not CO's or Susan's! And you two are real foodies.

I believe Shell has the solution about Pinoccio's.

Thal Armathura said...

I can only give an opinion on Pinocchio's and find it to be more of a place to go for a drink and the ambiance and the entertainment, as you can see from your picture it almost looks like State Street in Santa Barbara. It will be awhile before the culinary delights of Lake Washington Village finally happen. Before Big Mama's BBQ, we had a fantastic epicurean restaurant in that space called "Costa del Sol", I believe, which had an another location on the westside. La Caravana Salvadoran Restaurant is the best restaurant in the Lake Washington Village area presently, but Bliss Restaurant on East Washington in the East Washington Village area is reputed to be the best in the area with Mediterranean cuisine, however, I haven't tried it. For great but inexpensive Mexican food in the area, Mijares, at Allen and Washington, the same Mijares which is in Old Pasadena,is the best alternative and can't be beat for the food and friendly service.

Thal Armathura said...

By the way, the best pizza in the area and on North Lake, to answer your question Petrea, is the Avanti Cafe on the NW corner of Union and North Lake. Elmer Dills, rest his soul, was also a fan!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I think your going to need to head out to the "adjacents" for a good pie.

We loved Pasadena's Greco's. It expanded too fast, moved around to often and disappeared. Their Basil Calzone lives on in my dreams.

We replaced Greco's with Zelos in Arcadia. Theirs is a cornmeal crust. You can purchase it by the slice to see if you like it. (name drop...J Gold likes them)

wv: bionic

Lindsey Wagner the Bionic Woman was raised in adjacent Eagle Rock

stop me

Desiree said...

Big Mama's original owner sold out years ago--
for terrific barbecue (not soul food) I love Zeke's in Montrose.
The best restaurant on Lake is La Caravana Salvadorana. FABULOUS pupusas, hot of the griddle if you don't mind waiting for fresh fresh fresh food. 6 of us feasted there last night for $60.
( a lot of sharing was going around)

Thal Armathura said...

Yes, for BBQ, Zeke's on Honolulu in Montrose is the best in the area. Montrose village along Honolulu is also the best place for the Oktoberfest and for Christmas spirit in a small town. I love the place. Try Schreiber's German Deli and the Berolina European Bakery next door in Montrose, just south of Honolulu, all the best in traditional Christmas delights. Montrose is the little German village adjacent to Pasadena. Also, everyone loves La Cabinita Mexico City cuisine on Verdugo in Montrose. All of these wonderful places are just a hop, skip and a jump from each other.

Thal Armathura said...

Sorry, the German deli is Schreiner's, I got too excited thinking about it. They have rare meats and sausages, potato salads, cheeses, German sweets and beers and also a sandwich counter. Many German delicacies from the land of Christmas. My favorite is Westphalian Ham; it's like eating ephemeral jasmine, the most exquisite taste!

Desiree said...

I love all of those places, too--

Petrea said...

You are all the perfect people to ask: is there a great place for a Christmas brunch? (Langham is $95 per person. I'm looking for something mid-range.)

Petrea said...

By the way, thanks for all these additions to our list.

I think it was La Caravana we went to a while ago; didn't go back because although the service was greatthe pupusas were really greasy. Maybe we should try again. Bliss sounds great. And PA, thanks for the pizza suggestions. Ex-Chicagoans must have pizza from time to time. We like Avanti but we need variety.

Keep dropping names. Elvis Costello was here yesterday.

Thal Armathura said...

Call me crazy, but for a nice brunch in the sunshine on Colorado Boulevard in Old Pasadena, I like Gaucho Grill, even if it is a chain, I like the Argentine style food and sitting on the sidewalk in the sun people watching. Don't know if they're open on Christmas Day, but we've often enjoyed it on other sunny Winter days.

pasadenapio said...

I had lunch at the relocated, expanded and more upscale Pinocchio's last week and am pleased to report that the ambience was delightful, the service was excellent and the food was delicious. There were five of us, and not one of us had pizza.

The former hole-in-the-wall Pinocchio's is no more, and I'll be the first to say that it's a good thing!

Virginia said...

No clue but I'd love to join you and J for the quest!

Petrea said...

PIO, yours being the most recent report, I'll take it as the current gospel and check it out. I lament that so many of these suggestions are for out of town places. Surely we have great restaurant in Pasadena? Maybe just not in the blogger price range.

And I guess Pasadena's not a pizza town (besides Avanti, which is very good). There's no decent delivery pizza that I can find.

Cafe Observer said...

Thal: I think we've found a topic of more importance to you than local history! You wood bee a good food blogger.

Dez: it should've been, "7 of us feasted!"
PIO: wow, it should've been, "There were Six of us!"
(What's a dog to do to eat at a restaurant here?)

Avanti: I know someone who knows the owners well. Still, it's overrated for my taste.

Louis la Vache said...

«Louis» will be right there to help you eat your way through these places so we can write our own review! What with multiple stomachs, «Louis» is up to the task!

(Editor to «Louis»: Those aren't multiple stomachs! That's yo' belly hanging over yo' belt cuz you THINK you have multiple stomachs!)

Cafe Observer said...

Ok, Thal, then you're crazy: Gaucho Grill is R.I.P.

GG was one of the longer established joints in Old Towne but, it's been replaced by 1810 Argentinean!

I like what little I've experienced of 1810. It's not a chain, I like the Argentine style food and sitting on the sidewalk in the sun, girl people watching. In fact, we did that today!

However, I'm dependent on my friend who used her cell camera for food pics. 4got mine! We'll see how they came out.

I met the owners. A lovely & friendly Argentinean couple. Started a year ago. "Great timing" for a restaurant. Wish them a very Happy Biz New Year.

What am I doing in OT??!

In the meantime, I'm sending Fenchman Louis on a special mission to these Italian & Soulfood joints to bring back a full, objective appraisal of them.

Tony M said...

Try The Raymond. We have always enjoyed brunch there and it's lovely. For pizza, Pietro's (next door to Roma Market on Lake and Mountain) is the best pizza we have had so far in Pasadena. Their menu says they deliver (you don't really want to eat there), but they NEVER have a driver. We actually find it mildly amusing when we call and ask if they have a driver 'tonight' and they say, "No".....

marley said...

Pizza is the best! Good luck with your mission!

Thal Armathura said...

The Raymond Restaurant brunch will be more expensive than the Langham Huntington Hotel, I'm afraid. Hey, I don't get around much, as due to the economic downturn, I haven't been to the Gaucho Grill in awhile. And, it's gone! But replaced with something even better! Wonders of wonders. Must try the new Argentine restaurant soon.

Petrea said...

Cafe, I think Avanti gets high marks because the rest of the pizza in town is so awful.

EXCEPT! Oh, merci merci merci, Tony M! How did I miss that one? As you know Pietro's is convenient so a driver isn't needed. Can't wait to try it. I'll let you know the J+P verdict. And thank you for piping up.:)

Louis, you live in the restaurant capitol of the west coast, so on this subject I'm a little envious, especially of your multiple stomachs.

(Cafe, I don't know why your links aren't working but that's okay, we can google 1810. Thanks for the tip.)

I'll call the Raymond. Doesn't look like they're open Christmas, but it'll be a nice treat for some other special occasion.

mark said...

With 18 inches of snow headed my way I can only pine for outdoor dining. I must add that I am a huge fan of BBQ grilling and I have been known to grill smoke turkeys, ribs, beef tenderloins,and pork chops when the temps hit 20 below zero. I take my outdoor cooking seriously.

nicknpas said...

My favorite pizzeria in Pasadena is Tarantino's, on Green near Hudson. If you like shrimp try the Tucci's special.

TheChieftess said...

Best Bar B Que...ribs...Jax in Glendale, Gus' in so Pas (new owners)

La Cabanita...my favorite Mexico City style...

All the Montrose restaurants are wonderful!!!

Brunch...have you tried Villa Sorriso on Colorado in Pas?

Best French bistro...Bistro de la Gare in so Pas

Haven't found the great pizza yet...although there's a joint on Fair Oaks in So Pas, near Huntington that's supposed to be great...I think it's Mama's or something like that...

Petrea said...

mark, it's too cold to sit outside here right now, though we're nowhere near expecting snow. You do sound very serious about it and you're making me hungry.

nicknpas, another one for my list. Thank you.

Chieftess: I've been to Villa Sorriso but not for brunch. Their website seems to be broken at the moment. Thanks for the other recommendations. Guess we're going to have to use some gas.

Hey, Pasadena! Do you notice how many people are recommending restaurants outside of Pasadena? What's up with that?

Cafe Observer said...

What's up, P? Well, that's a reason why only one Pasadena eatery made it on LA Weekly's Essential Food Places for 2009.

(Those aren't links, P. Just highlights. LIke for your hair.)

I think there is a Big Mama's Pizza on Colorado that people I know have all liked. But, like you, I need to ck it out for myself. Is Village Pizzeria (ex of Los Robles) still around? I liked their pie.
Casa Bianca on Colorado in EaglesRock is very good! Been around since the last century.

If all else fails, ask Restless Dez how good is her Italo Pizza.

Diana said...

@Cafe Observer: Sorriso has a dog section just to the right of the entrance. Mike & Anne's allow dogs and provide them water. If you're looking for an indoor restaurant that allows dogs, move to Paris.

Petrea said...

Village is still there. I'll check it out.

And Diana, thanks for the dog suggestions. Boz likes restaurants.

From now on, when we're looking for a place to eat we're going to refer to this post.

Colleen said...

We have been dreaming of good delivered pizza since we moved to Pasadena 18 years ago, and it still doesn't exist. Yesterday I was on Larry Mantle's show for EAT: Los Angeles, and one of the producers, an ex New Yorker, said Tony's in San Marino is the best pizza anywhere around, so we should all check that out. But they don't deliver up Pasadena way. Tarantino's is fine, Pinocchio's so-so. My favorite is Casa Blanca in Eagle Rock, but it's a pain to get (1 hour wait, no delivery, closed Sunday when we all want pizza); my husband's favorite is Georgee's in La Canada.

Petrea said...

I'm sorry I missed that, Colleen! Thanks for all the great suggestions. Of all the posts I've ever done, I think I'll refer to the comments here more than any other.

Petrea said...

Something about Tony's rang a bell so I googled. I've tried it--just a slice and a coke once when I was passing through. It's not much for ambiance, but the pizza was okay. I'd do take-out again.