Pizza Rev El Segundo

my pizzarev pizza

My custom pizza, with marinara/pesto combo, plus sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and olives

El Segundo is now home to a new pizza place – or more accurately, a new pizza concept. PizzaRev, a Los Angeles-based chain, allows customers to craft their own pizza using a wide variety of unlimited ingredients, all for one price. PizzaRev will open its doors on Friday, August 2, at the the Gateway El Segundo plaza, between Mariposa & Grand Ave., at 460 N. Sepulveda Blvd.

pizza rev staff

The PizzaRev crew is ready to add your custom toppings

We had a chance earlier this week to check out the PizzaRev concept and sample some pizzas. To create your pizza, you walk through a cafeteria line that a friend of ours described as “like Subway, but for pizza.” A crew of pizza-builders help you select your sauce, your cheese, and an array of toppings, from sweet fennel sausage, to anchovies, to fresh arugula. Then the pizza gets fired up in PizzaRev’s custom-built 9,600 pound stone-bed “Fire-Deck” oven, and three minutes later, your own personalized pizza is ready.

add toppings

Decisions, decisions…

We had a chance to sample the PizzaRev pizzas earlier this week…and when you’re presented with a whole line of toppings, it’s a tough choice. We were completely torn about whether to choose marinara sauce or pesto, and we tentatively asked if we could do a combination of both. “Of course!” came the answer. “Great choice!” The beauty is you can do as much or as little of each topping as you like, or make your own crazy combination. After all – it’s your pizza.  

cheeseburger pizza

The “cheeseburger pizza”

After our pesto/marinara mixture, we added sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and spinach – a combination we highly recommend (see top picture). But our little guy decided to go with one of the weekly specials, a cheeseburger pizza (pictured left), with lettuce, tomato, cheese, ground beef, and ketchup. After he demolished the entire thing, he declared it, “Double-double-double thumbs up!”

Once you’ve got your pizza, there’s plenty of seating both inside and outside on the heated patio. Oh, and did we mention the dessert pizza? You can choose from chocolate, caramel, and raspberry toppings. Looks like this will be be a fun place for kids and grownups alike; our kids already want to go back and try some new combos.

PizzaRev is located at 460 N. Sepulveda Blvd, El Segundo, CA. , and opens Friday, August 2. Phone: 310-426-6320.

Blogger disclosure: We received a complimentary pizza dinner from PizzaRev but did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are our own.

Pitfire Pizza

Downtown Manhattan Beach has welcomed a cozy new restaurant: Pitfire Pizza. If you love wood-fired pizzas (or if you have never tried one before), you are in for a tasty treat.

pitfire exteriorPitfire Pizza, which is in a total of seven locations around Los Angeles and Orange County, is designed as a community-friendly restaurant with a neighborhood feel. (At our most recent visit, we ran into two different friends while there.) Its food is all hand-crafted, organic and local whenever possible, and cooked to perfection in a 630-degree wood-fired oven. Kids feel right at home here and they’re encouraged to order off the regular menu and/or create their own pizza. According to co-owner Paul Hibler. “If we can create sustainable pizza and Italian dishes that combine organic ingredients at an affordable price the whole community can enjoy, then our mission is accomplished.”

burrata piePizzas are crafted in individual sizes that are plenty generous for one, but perfect for sharing. At a recent visit, we enjoyed the burrata pie (made with burrata cheese, tomato sauce, wild arugula, caramelized onion, hazelnut, and a drizzle of pesto) and a seasonal roast pumpkin pizza (made with sage-roasted winter squash, brown butter, braised chard, fontina, toasted pepitas, and pumpkin seed oil). The verdict? They’re so tasty you may not even want to share.

Want to read more? Check out our full story on Jolly Tomato.

Pitfire Pizza, 401 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach. Open Monday-Thursday 11 am to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday 11 am to 11 pm; Sunday noon to 10 pm. Price ranges: Pizzas, $8.95 to $10.95; Pastas, $8.75 to $10.95; Salads, $3.50 to $11.00. Phone: (310) 359-9555.

Leafy Greens Salad Bar

So you’d like your family to have a healthy dinner, but you just got home from work, your fridge is empty and you don’t have money or energy for a sit-down restaurant where the kids are just going to wind up eating burgers and fries. What you really need is a quick, healthy stop that has a little bit of something for everyone. That’s the main premise of Leafy Greens, a new family-friendly salad bar in downtown Manhattan Beach.

“Our idea was ‘Keep it simple’” says Rich Weber, co-owner of Leafy Greens, which sells only salad bar items and soup (no sandwiches or other entrees). “Part of the concept was that we just want something that people can eat every day.”

Weber and his wife Laura were frustrated with the lack of quick, healthy lunch or dinner options in the area. Laura came up with the concept and then spent three years developing the plans and working on logistics until finally opening in August 2012.

Leafy Greens offers what most of us can’t maintain in our own refrigerators – a complete selection of ready-to-eat fresh veggies every day. “The concept is, it’s almost impossible to keep this stuff fresh at home – or you end up getting sick of it,” says Weber. At the salad bar, you can also choose other more unique treats – black figs or Japanese udon noodles, for example – that you might not necessarily have on hand at home.

Our big question: Will kids go for it? We kid-tested the salad bar with an admittedly small kid sample, but the response was surprisingly positive. Our young tester went straight for the kale in the leafy greens line, and then picked up pieces of waffle-cut carrot slices, bell peppers, baby corn, black beans, peperoncini, olives, grapes, cubes of cooked chicken, and slivers of tortilla strips. It’s fair to say that his meal was far more adventurous than something he would have picked out for himself (or found in the fridge) at home. Added bonus for kids: The counters are fairly low and accessible so most little ones can get a pretty good view of the array of choices.

Weber notes that Leafy Greens offers local and organic ingredients whenever possible; the selections vary depending on season and availability. Most of the items are single ingredients but there are a few prepared salads. The avocado/tomato salad – a customer favorite – was a real standout.

Also, there are no desserts for sale at the store, which is fine, because the salad bar itself was such a food adventure, our kid tester forgot to ask about dessert. Go figure.

Leafy Greens Salad Bar, 308 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. 310-376-2502. Open from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm daily. Salads are sold by weight at $7.95/pound; soups start at $2.95. Seating available.

Artisanal Cheeses in the South Bay

Love cheese? Love wine? If you’re shopping for a special new taste in the South Bay, you’re in for a treat. Local cheese expert Vickie McCorkendale (a.k.a. Queso Beso and Culinary Vixen) has partnered with Manhattan Fine Wines to offer a hand-curated selection of artisanal cheeses. These specialty cheeses, produced at small independent dairies such as Pedrozo Dairy of Orland, CA, Soledad Goats of Mojave, CA, and River’s Edge Chevre of Oregon’s Central Coast, aren’t available at any other stores in the area.

We had a chance to sample some of the cheeses last week and let’s just say that if you are only used to cheddar and mozzarella, your taste buds are in for a whole new experience. We practically had to drag ourselves away from the highly addictive Soledad Goats goat cheese balls marinated in olive oil and herbs. The Cape Foulweather chevre from River’s Edge (in the shape of an ash-covered pyramid) is a strong, creamy cheese that’s guaranteed to take center stage at your cheese course.  But our hands-down favorite is the sweetly named True Love chevre from River’s Edge, a fragrant chevre wrapped in roses and jasmine.

If you pair these cheeses with the right wines, you’ll take the experience to a whole new level. At Manhattan Fine Wines, proprietor Joe Chiewphasa will steer you in the right direction to find just the right wine to pair with your specialty cheese (and your dinner too).

The Queso Beso cheese selection (prices ranging from $10 to $44/pound) can be found at Manhattan Fine Wines, 1157-A Artesia Blvd., Manhattan Beach. 310-374-3454

Short Order

Photo via Short Order

Hungry for some real comfort food? Check out Short Order, which is located in the Farmers Market complex at 3rd and Fairfax in Los Angeles. Chef Christian Page prides himself on sourcing locally raised, organic, artisanal, and handmade products. The main menu features hand-crafted classic foods like grass-fed beef burgers; the kids’s menu offers smaller versions of the same top-quality eats that the grownups enjoy. Is your mouth watering yet? Read more of our interview with Chef Page today over at the Jolly Tomato.

Short Order, 6333 W. 3rd St., Stall #110 (Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax), Los Angeles, CA 90036. (323) 761-7970

From Garden to Table

Sure, your restaurant promises fresh local produce, but does the chef really know where it comes from? At mar’sel, the fine dining restaurant at Terranea, the answer is yes – it comes from right outside the door.

The garden at mar'sel, designed by Home Grown Edible Landscapes

Mar’sel has collaborated in a unique partnership with Home Grown Edible Landscapes, a sustainable garden and landscaping company run by local master gardener Geri Miller. Working closely with Miller on seasonal gardening, mar’sel Chef Michael Fiorelli is able to take the freshest herbs and greens of the season and bring them just ten steps into the kitchen before they arrive on your plate.

Recently we had the opportunity to attend an on-site gardening class and luncheon at mar’sel – learning about the art of growing edibles at home, and then tasting some of Chef Fiorelli’s freshest creations.

Miller’s central philosophy is keeping gardens natural, sustainable, and local; and Fiorelli is completely on board with that mantra. “I source based on relationships rather than organics,” said Fiorelli. “An organic peach that came from Peru in February – that doesn’t really make sense.”

A stack of panini, with a spectacular ocean backdrop

After participating in the seasonal spring planting (vegetables, herbs, and flowers) out front, our group reconvened on the oceanfront patio to savor a colorful salad of little gem lettuce, watermelon radish, ruby grapefruit, California olive oil, and sea salt. Next we enjoyed a stack of fresh-pressed panini with Italian meats, aged provolone, and pickled vegetables.

“Did you bake the bread yourself?” one guest called out to Fiorelli. “Of course – always!” he answered, and then deadpanned, “Wait – you can buy bread?”

Following lunch we took a tour of the kitchen and watched the staff prep for a busy Saturday night ahead. Fiorelli noted that the restaurant’s name – mar, Spanish for sea; and sel, French for salt – turns out to be a perfect fit for the restaurant’s setting and dining aesthetic.

Photo via mar'sel

Of course it’s a given that the panoramic ocean view at mar’sel is a major draw, but watching the moon rise over the ocean is an especially spectacular sight. Don’t miss mar’sel’s special moon-themed menu, offered once a month on the night of a full moon. The restaurant keeps its own full moon calendar here.

mar’sel, 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes. Open 5:30 to 10:00 PM, Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations: 310-265-2836

Home Grown Edible Landscapes, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Taste of Manhattan Beach

As Manhattan Beach continues its year-long centennial celebration, local restaurants are gearing up to present some of the best tastes in town. Taste of Manhattan Beach, a tasting festival with live entertainment, demonstrations, and other activities, will be held on Sunday, March 25, from 1 PM to 5 PM at 13th and Morningside Drive.

The ticketed event will feature cuisine from local restaurants, beer and wine tasting, live music and entertainment, winning entries from the city-wide art contest, and chef demonstrations. Featured restaurants include local favorites The Strand House, American Farmhouse Tavern, Simmzy’s, Petros,  Cake Bakeshop, Manhattan Beach Creamery, and more. Also at the festival will be a special farmers market that is open to the public.

Food tickets are $15/person or $25 for two; kids 12 and under are free with an adult. Food, beer, and wine tickets are $25/person or $45 for two. To purchase tickets, visit the city’s Taste of Manhattan Beach page.

And mark your calendars: Upcoming centennial events include a parade and historic picnic on May 19, a centennial festival on July 7, and a centennial ball on September 22.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop

Do you call it a sub, a hoagie, a grinder, or just a sandwich? No matter what you call it at Capriotti’s, the South Bay’s newest sandwich shop, you’re bound to get something tasty.

Capriotti’s, located on Hawthorne Blvd. in Torrance, has a little something for everyone (even vegetarians). On a recent Sunday, we picked a sampling of sandwiches including turkey, tuna, ham, and grilled Italian.

In case you didn’t know this, South Bay Sparkle has not one but two Italian sides of the family – and we have incredibly high standards when it comes to our Italian subs (or hoagies, as we grew up calling them). But we’re happy to report that Capriotti’s was easily up to snuff. We especially loved their trademark turkey sandwich: no turkey cold cuts here, it’s all hand-shredded turkey from a fresh-roasted bird. Mr. South Bay Sparkle wanted something a little spicier, so he was very happy with the grilled Italian sandwich – which featured Genoa salami, capicolla, and prosciutini. All of the subs we got were 9-inch subs for $6.99. If you’ve got an even bigger appetite, you can get  a medium (12-inch) sub for $8.49 or a large (20-inch) for $12.49.

We had the experience of visiting Capriotti’s on Super Bowl Sunday, so we had a chance to see a whole crew of workers stacking up hundreds of subs on party tray after party tray. Catering platters can serve anywhere from 3 to 100 people.

On our next visit, we’re going to check out Capriotti’s most famous sandwich, The Bobbie, which has fresh-roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayo.

Blogger disclosure: We were treated to two free subs from Capriotti’s for review purposes; we purchased the rest.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, 17352 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, CA 310-214-9200.

Three Kings’ Day

Did you think the Christmas season was over already?

Not so fast. We’re still counting down to the 12th day of Christmas, also known as the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings’ Day or El Dia de los Reyes Magos (the day that the three kings arrived in Bethlehem at the scene of the Nativity). Traditionally celebrated in Spanish and Latin cultures, Three Kings’ Day celebrations are all over Los Angeles. Check out our article on CBS Local Online to see the list of celebrations and suggestions for where to buy a rosca de reyes, a traditional Three Kings’ Day cake.

Want to buy your rosca locally? We’ve got a few great South Bay Mexican-style bakeries for you:

El Molino Bakery – 15120 Hawthorne Blvd, Lawndale (310) 355-3000

Panaderia La Esperanza- 22836 S Western Ave, Torrance (310) 539-3690

Panaderia Mi Lupita – 1640 W Carson St, Torrance (310) 533-1884

Old Mexico Bakery – 235 S Pacific Ave, San Pedro (310) 833-9453

Pan Y Leche Bakery-Panaderia – 713 W Anaheim St, Wilmington (310) 518-9224

Thanksgiving Tips

Thanksgiving. Dinner. Do those words strike fear in your heart? If so, fear not, because Simple Gourmet in Redondo Beach is here to help!

Pomegranate-Lacquered Sweet Potatoes from Simple Gourmet

We had the honor of attending a cooking class at Simple Gourmet, where we learned all about tips and tricks to make Thanksgiving dinner prep easier. You can read all about their tips – and get one of our favorite Simple Gourmet recipes - at our sister site, the Jolly Tomato.

Don’t feel like cooking? You can order a Thankgiving meal to go from Simple Gourmet. $200 gets you a complete meal for 8 people ($25/person). You can pick it up from their Redondo Beach kitchen, or have it delivered for an additional charge.

Melanie Barsuk (l), founder; and Taji Marie (r), executive chef at Simple Gourmet

Want to take a cooking class or create a cooking event? Simple Gourmet offers private cooking parties, culinary team-building activities, and kids’ classes and camps. One class in particular we have our eye on: Kids’ gingerbread house decorating workshops – Offered Sat., Dec. 3 at noon; Thursday Dec. 8 at 4 pm; and Saturday, Dec. 10 at noon; for $40/kid. Kids under age 8 should be accompanied by an adult.

The Simple Gourmet Kitchen is located at 443-A South Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach. Contact them at 310-318-6484 or at info [at] simple-gourmet.com.

Blogger disclosure, a.k.a. the fine print: I was treated to a cooking class at Simple Gourmet. I was not compensated for this post. The opinions expressed are my own.

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