Fresh ingredients rule at Stefano's Pizzeria, with homemade sauce and farmers'-market herbs and veggies spreading their power over a doughy dominion. The menus at both the Santa Monica Place and Howard Hughes locations manifest four kinds of hand-tossed pies, including thin New York–style pizza ($2.75–$4/slice), which Stefano's native New Yorker owner carried with him to the coast, transporting simple cheese pies beneath the seat and in overhead compartments. The thick Sicilian–style ($3+/slice) has traveled even further, embodying secret recipes handed down through generations. Inventive gourmet varieties ($21.50–$24.50 for 18") present creative concoctions of barbecue-chicken-and-four-cheese pizza, and stuffed selections ($5.25/slice) arrive tableside, bursting with toppings and oven gossip.
Located around the corner from the USC campus, Viztango Cafe serves Italian-inspired fare designed by experienced chef Tito Rivera. Under his supervision, the kitchen staff smothers hearty pastas in sauce, crisps European-style pizzas, and plates Italian-inspired entrees of chicken, fish, and steak. The colorful photographs lining the wall allow guests to eat first with their eyes, much like competitors in the hands-free round of a pie-eating contest.
Buffalo Wings & Pizza churns out a spread of wings, pizzas, and burgers lovingly designed to fill every hunger-shaped hole in your stomach. The eatery's menu boasts tender chicken wings in flavors that range from mildly spicy to suicide, and more than 20 toppings and 11 sauces weigh down its 9- to 20-inch pizzas to keep them from blowing away. Five beers such as Fat Tire, Pacifico, and Blue Moon splash into glasses straight from the keg, and a full bar supplies patrons with cheer-inducing libations during games displayed on Buffalo Wings' projector.
Chefs at Polentoni splash spicy tomato sauces over handmade pizzas, hearty pastas and risottos, and other mouthwatering Italian dishes. On plates, rich pesto and refreshing salads enjoy the company of piquant garlic, tender cuts of chicken, and creamy cheeses. Rustic brick walls, pristine hardwood floors, and streamlined wall sconces epitomize the restaurant’s contemporary design, which builds a cozy space where visitors can enjoy glasses of wine or knit comfy scarves out of noodles.
Examine the menu of shareable small plates ($8 individually; $21 for three) and keep belly growls at bay with a baguette served with butter or olive oil ($2) or an order of olives and almonds ($4). Bacaro's petite palate ticklers appease flavor and Fahrenheit cravings of every variety with chilled chomper fuel that includes poached shrimp with a citrus chili sauce, and steamy sustenance that includes artichoke hearts with parmigiano reggiano, pan-seared scallops, and an Angus burger made with beef from grass-fed cows and honey wheat bread. All menu items can find friendship in a selection from the wine menu, which features more than 60 sweet, sparkling, red, and white wines, as well as six internationally forbidden blue wines.