Grilled or chilled, layered or wrapped, the chefs at The Original Sandbag's Gourmet Sandwiches uphold the age-old art of bread bundling as they craft a mélange of classic sandwiches alongside a complement of classic soups, sides, and desserts. Staffers load up the shop’s fluffy rolls or toasty bread slices with spiced cuts of turkey, saucy meatballs, and veggies before pairing each creation with a homemade chocolate-chip cookie, imbuing senses with nostalgia for days at mom’s house or late-night shindigs at Cookie Monster's mansion. Diners can take their bounty to go or linger at the restaurant, which features a lineup of indoor seating and a collection of patio tables soaking in the warm rays of the noonday sun.
Housed in a graceful Italian Renaissance-style building originally designed as a music store in 1929 by famed L.A. architect Paul Williams, Tanino serves up authentic Italian cuisine with a contemporary touch in the heart of Westwood Village. Travertine walls and an ornately painted ceiling impart an elegant and intimate feel amidst the bustle of the busy UCLA neighborhood. Chef-owner Tanino Drago, who cut his teeth at older brother Celestino‰Ûªs restaurant, Drago, has crafted a classic menu to match the Old World feel of his establishment, offering favorites like osso buco with saffron risotto and homemade fettuccine with lamb ragÌ_. A grand fireplace casts a warm and inviting glow on cool L.A. evenings, as does the largely Italian waitstaff, who are sure to come in handy when trying to order those tough-to-pronounce regional dishes.
Tastes in Halloween costumes change quickly. This year, Halloween Club is ready with popular Breaking Bad, Despicable Me, and Iron Man costumes. Of course, there are also the classic staples. Creepy masks and props, police uniforms, and pirate apparel aren't forgotten either, allowing patrons to finish their cosplay outfit, celebrate Halloween, or put together a really spectacular excuse for not going into work. That selection also includes outlandish items such as skeletons in mariachi outfits and zombie girl scout costumes.
The Stand’s menu of chili dogs, burgers, and tuna melts evokes classic Americana images of diners and ball games. The eats may be casual, but the staff strives to give them modern style, earning a spot on Gayot's 2012 list of Top 10 LA Hot Dog Restaurants. Upon request, the staff will wrap burgers in whole-wheat buns or lettuce wraps instead of classic buns, and diners also have their choice of beef, turkey, or housemade veggie patties. Gourmet hot-dog and sausage toppings such as garlic mushrooms and corn salsa join traditional fixings such as mustard, sweet pickle relish, and tears from a recently defeated baseball team. To wash it all down, servers blend up 20-ounce chocolate and vanilla milkshakes and tap a rotating menu of draft beers, as well as root beer.
“[It’s] the best pizza I’ve found in Los Angeles,” says comedian and recognized Italian Ray Romano about D’Amore’s Pizza. He’s not the only star to fall for the authentic slices: owner Joe D’Amore has shipped his cracker-thin crusts to destinations across Hollywood, including the set of Two and a Half Men and Jennifer Garner’s house. Whether he’s serving an A-lister or the average hungry citizen, Joe bakes all of his cheesy treats to-order inside a stationary brick oven or an innovative oven on wheels.
D’Amore’s traditional methods and tempting taste are a family legacy. Born and raised in an Italian family in Boston, Joe D’Amore grew up savoring his grandmother Mommanonna's handmade pizzas—a meal he would miss upon moving to California. Joe asked his grandmother to join him out west and show him the secrets to her trade, but when she pulled the pie out of the oven, something wasn't quiet right. Mommanonna immediately knew that the California water was sabotaging her famous cracker-thin crust, and urged Joe to bring water from Boston. Today, he takes the practice a step further, importing water from Italy along with olive oil, flour, and pizza wheels carved by Michelangelo.
Sixty seconds. That's as long as it takes for the fresh mozzarella to melt and the hand-made dough to cook to a soft and chewy crust. By the time the cashier hands you a receipt, your pizza arrives piping-hot and ready to eat. The secret to 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria's quick turnaround is a carefully designed assembly line. First, chefs flatten dough—prepped beforehand with flour, salt, water and wild yeast. Next comes fresh basil, splashes of extra virgin olive oil, and whole balls of fresh mozzarella, made exclusively for the pizzeria by DiStefano Cheese. The pizza moves down to the next station, where customers can choose from fresh toppings such as bacon, ricotta, and local arugula, or opt for pre-designed pizzas such as the carni—which is made with salsiccia, pepperoni, meatballs, and rosemary ham. Finally, the chef slides the custom-made pizza into the oven, where almond wood maintains temperatures of at least 800 degrees.
To complement the Neapolitan pizzas, staffers pour wine on tap and scoop organic gelato from LA creamery. Diners can also use a touch-screen machine to dispense bubbly beverages in 150 customizable flavors—perfect for those who dislike sipping the same thing twice.