South Coast Pizza Parlors' dedicated pizza artisans arise each morning to craft fresh dough, blend a new batch of piquant sauce, and grate cheese to all be harmoniously commingled in the day's savory, circular creations depicted on the menu. Mollify mandibles with a 12-inch two-topping pie adorned with a duo of cheese-embedded accessories such as canadian bacon, pepperoni, pineapple, jalapeños, or bell peppers ($14.34). Sandwich options include the salami, ham, melted cheese, lettuce, and tomato ensemble that plays a culinary show on the South Coast sub ($5.38) and the tasty turkey sandwich, served hot and smothered with cheese ($5.38). A 60-ounce pitcher of beer can be used to toast breakthroughs in backyard gene-splicing experiments ($7.42–$8.77), and a small platter of spaghetti with meatballs can thwart hunger pangs with saucy goodness ($4.87).
So successful were the three original Lamppost Pizza establishments that the eatery has grown to 37 locations since its inception in 1976. Friendliness and fun unite with the pizzeria's penchant for sports to make visits memorable. But as nice as big-screen TVs can be, the real magnetism of this haven for sauce and cheese lies in the pies spun in the kitchen. Beer and wine complement the menu, which also includes calzones, pastas, sandwiches, and grill fare such as burgers.
Proprietor and chef David Myers has never been a man to cut corners in the kitchen. He honed his attention to detail while working for Chicago's legendary Charlie Trotter and French gourmand Daniel Boulud, and then went on to earn praise of his own, including a Michelin star for his Sona Restaurant in West Hollywood.
At Chef Myers' Italian-spun invention, Pizzeria Ortica, patrons can peer at the open kitchen and watch as his team carefully assembles locally sourced and artisanal ingredients such as crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, cured pork cheek, and fennel pollen. An 800-degree wood-burning oven adds crispy finishing touches to Neapolitan-style pizzas built atop handmade dough, served alongside traditional antipastos and steaming portions of pasta.
A rustically modern interior of exposed white brick and large, glowing overhead lights offers a perfect complement to the restaurant's simple yet gourmet cuisine, as does a selection of Prohibition-era-inspired cocktails. Behind the bar, mixologists muddle fruit and herbs culled fresh from the farmers' market, and then mix them with gins, scotches, and whiskeys.
Before moving to California, the owners of Finbars Italian Kitchen lived in a Brooklyn neighborhood densely populated with Italian families. Like the rest of the neighborhood, they attended St. Finbar parish, where they gossiped and traded recipes with “grandmas, moms, and quite a few uncles that all know how and love to cook.” Later, as transplants to the West Coast, they infused the “straight to the point food” they knew and loved with fresh, California-style ingredients such as cilantro, zucchini, jalapeños, and celebrity secrets. Their menu soon grew to reflect both their traditions and culinary developments, with dishes such as chicken tequila fusilli, pad thai linguine, and New York prime steaks. Today, they serve their freshly made dishes in two locations, where live music entertains diners on weekends.