Monday, November 26, 2018

Mission Impossible Vegan Burgers at Monty's Good Burger

One of the few things I am always excited about in finding new places is that... you never know what hits you until it happens.

Take a case in point with Monty's Good Burger. I was on my way to have a few drinks and bites at Here's Looking At You (Congrats on being named on Eater's Top 38 restaurants of 2018). For a bit odd reason, I saw a long line out the door at 6pm on a Saturday night. Of course, I'm looking at all these young fashionable hipsters wannabes and figuring a Black Friday sales was happening. Then I took a good gander and realized they are lining up where Sumo Dog's old mini counter used to be at. It's all for a place called Monty's Good Burger.

The line wasn't for their hot dogs as they moved to Santa Monica's Gallery Food Hall. What was going on you may asked? Apparently the line is for vegan burger. Go figured right with the appearances of hipsters and young millennials. 

Sorry for the grain as it was taken at midnight

Fast forward in about... 5 and a half hours later? There is still a line for this. In a true sense of being so LA, I decided to google and Yelp Monty's Good Burger up to get an idea what I'm dealing with. Apparently it got raves from several publications that I ceased to trust and a few knowledgeable writers I followed from a distance. All of whom are raving about their the "veggie burger that bleeds".

I just stood in line because of what?... bored on Saturday night? Needing something to soak up the drinks I just had at Here's Looking At You? Worst yet? Just want to figure it out if the hype is real or I'm missing out 5 months too late.

Oh yeah, I also wanted to meet the mascot, Monty, the white Schnoodle that is on the logo. Don't laugh, but there were people actually wanted to take selfies with that celeb doggo and I'm one of the few that gets to pet him and also shooting the breeze with of the handlers who was patrolling and controlling the line.


When it was my turn to order, I noticed a few things that stuck out to me. One was the simplicity of the menu to either a single patty or double patties. The components can be subtracted from the usual lettuce, tomato, vegan cheese, grilled onion, or their special thousand island sauce. If it screams out In-Out-Burgers to you, then you're not alone. A kale salad, Fries, and Tots are the other main items you can ordered besides the two burgers.

Treated with care, would vegan burgers like this makes me wanting to order more? What's the verdict? Here's the funny part? If you put a blind test on me, I couldn't tell the difference between this plant based patty with the meat patties. More to the succinct point, this incarnation can be juicy as well. Way better than the tofu burger you're accustomed to.

If you are into the Mission Impossible Burgers, then the grilled burgers from Monty will suits your need. One thing I crave for is the buns they used. Everything here is locally sourced and they are not cutting corners to bring out the best in what they are serving. Including an eco-friendly bottled water "Just Water" branded by Jaden Smith. Pretty much that speaks volumes to me... in a subtle green friendly way.

Initially, I was bummed out that Sumo Dog moved to the westside, but with a fresh blue coat of paint and a logo of Monty plastered on the wall, it seemed like nothing changed. Without a missing beat, I would gladly get a single or double from Monty's.

A great find all because of yours truly not wanting to pay for valet parking and walk a distance to discover place on the way to dinner!

Monty's Good Burger
516 S. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Top 10 Pizza Served In Los Angeles

How come I don't do ten places to eat pizza?

Was there not enough places? I think it's super hard for some reasons because of lack of creativity and the ingredients of the dough are always being short changed. Dough is an essence of what makes pizza taste good. The flavors of the pizza and sauce/cheese base is quintessential with the toppings being the extra icing on top of that pie.

Luckily for me since I was back writing a few places for this blog, Italian cuisine have seen a renaissance in this vast diverse region of the country. In the past, people don't associated LA or Orange County as Italian epic center, but a lot has changed as more and more transplant from other cities bring their roots here and other chefs trained in oversea have come back to share their love of a good pizza.

Ten places in Los Angeles for many people to visit for the some of the best pizza you'll experienced.

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291


Many people have shortchanged the idea in that a burnt on the crust is always bad. I think it add flavors to the component and a great look for outer edge. Gjelina is a uber chic hotspot in the burgeoning street of Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. The restaurant was ridiculous packed for weekend lunch and every day dinner. If there's a specialty, it gotta be their toasts for brunch.

Don't sleep on their pizza though. They have some of the best pizza in town.

2121 E 7th Place
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Buratta Pizza - (san marzano tomatoes, castelvetrano olives, oregano, fermented chilies)

Did we really have to go into on why this place is on the list? Very often or not, this place was considered to be the Crème de la Crème of all sit down restaurants in all of southland. Forget about getting a reservation for the weekend as you might need to book a month in advance. There are many reasons for the get up such as the pasta dish of Pici al Sugo di Agnello or the famed roasted bone marrow. The steaks are fine too. Bestia has everything Italian you want.

It's their burrata pizza selections that will get you to the door or out the door. Their pizza is a must and probably will make you order one to take out as well. Go with the san marzano tomatoes, castelvetrano olives, oregano, fermented chilies variety of burrata pizza. You won't regret that.

Jon and Vinny's
412 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Jon and Vinny's
Roman Gladiator (Bacon, Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, and Ham)

They made a quick epic return from the recent post. It goes without saying they have the best selection of unique toppings and hard to find ingredients on their pizza. Try out the Roman Gladiator pizza above and you won't regret it. For anyone who needs a refresher, please check out the review here to get an idea on what I would order at Jon and Vinny's.

Love and Salt
317 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Love And Salt
Duck Egg Pie

When I decided to restart my little blog again, one of the first destination I hit up based on recommendations of famous restaurant critics in town, Love and Salt was the choice. Give you a quick rundown in that it's on a revitalized main street of Manhattan Beach where busy high class residents are mostly congregated at.

You probably can sneaked them some generic Italian cuisine and called it fine dining. This place however stood out from the rest and it's a godsend. They have many classic dishes to try, but for pizza, you gotta go with Duck Egg Pie. Check my review of Love And Salt for details of other dishes to try.

Cosa Buona
2100 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Cosa Buona
White Clam Pizza

One of these days, I will get around to do a decent post on this place. It blows my mind that this place doesn't get the talk for pizza, but for the pastas. To give you a weird rundown, Cosa Buona replaces another pizza joint. Weirdly in that a lot of people do walked up to this place and thinking it's a casual take out like the former place. Alas, they found out it's a much elevated Italian place complete with other pasta dishes that are to die for.

My first option was the pineapple pizza everyone was raving about on Yelp, but wound up having a much better bite with a white clam. Oh, noticed the black marks on the crust end? Yes, you know it's pretty when that happens. My only advice for the next pizza place.. take over a Thai restaurant. Will have no confusion unless it's serving Thai curry pizza.

Tony's Little Italy Pizza
1808 N Placentia Ave B
Placentia, CA 92870

Tony's Little Italy Pizza
Supreme Deep Dish

There are some options for great deep dish in this region finally. Lucky for some of us, there are transplants from the midwest that are showing us these stuffed pizza in a pan that will galvanized us into craziness with the topping between the crust and cover in cheese like an average pie. Having this creation bestowed upon us, I must admit it will set everyone back in the calories count for the next week for just one meal.

My favorite among all of the recent explosion of deep dish pizza comes in the courtesy of Tony's Little Italy Pizza, located in the far east region of the map. Closer to Riverside than to LA. Worth the trek as their crust was flaky like pie crust with deep sauce and cheese covering up the meaty components like a shepherd's pie. The best Chicago's style deep dish from a true Chicagoan.

Superfine Pizza
1101 San Pedro St Unit F
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Superfine Pizza
Salami Honey Pizza

Recent discoveries let me to this take out window that serves a pizza that LA should call one of its own. It seemed our beloved city has taking a liking to spicy honey flavored pizza. There's one other place I know that would served such a type pizza, but you have to go to Orange county for this venture. Stick with Superfine Pizza .

Two things you want to know. One, to get you excited, this place has the same masterminds behind the hit restaurants Rossoblu and Sotto. So you know they take Italian cuisine very seriously. Especially on how they treat the dough. Second, digital payment only. Meaning you are going to need the plastics. No paper currency accepted. It's worth getting that spicy honey pizza!

Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria
(Inside of Grand Central Market)
317 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria

If there is a fast pizza place I would hit up, it would be Olio Wood Fire Pizzeria in the Grand Central market. The basic component of the pizza involves the ready to use dough and cheese ready to fire with the proteins you wanted to add. My favorite to order are the Wild Mushroom & Speck and the Margherita Plus. Those two are easy to order and way faster than your normal delivery places.

Pro tip: Get the Agua Frescas next door to this food stall.

Chicago's Pizza With A Twist
11767 South Street
Artesia, CA 90701

Chicago's Pizza With A Twist
Chicken Tikka Pizza

I don't think I have stopped raving about this chain. Maybe I'll stop when the quality goes down, but it's worth noting in that this popular late night hangout for the local teens has bamboozled many in thinking it's a Chicago style deep dish place (read above for Tony's). I have gone in depth about what's Chicago about this pizza joint. I'm still love the twist in Chicago's Pizza With A Twist.

The big twist was that it has Indian ingredients meshed with the traditional pizza. My verdict still stands as we speak. Check out the Chicken Tikka pizza.

Milana's New York Pizzeria
165 E. 4th Street
Long Beach, CA 90802

Milana's New York Pizzeria

One of the hardest to find pizza in town for me was a grandma style pizza. It's Brooklyn style Sicilian that was promoted in downtown Long Beach that got me there. For this grandma style pizza, it's pretty much similar to deep dish without the stuffing. In this variation, as the name suggested it's Sicilian, meaning it's rectangular shaped. With the tomato sauce being promoted, it's lavished covered the cheese (not the other way around you're so accustomed to).

You can only get this unique pizza here at Milana's New York Pizzeria.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Walking Out More Than Expected From Jon And Vinny's

Has anyone ever been to Animal? This is the name of the restaurant that started my journey to the culinary world where I have discovered the finer things in life. I owed a lot to my early experience to the talented duo Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, who are the masterminds for introducing me to Animal.

Weirdly enough, it took me much longer time to visit their namesake restaurant, Jon and Vinny's. Located in the burgeoning hip Fairfax district, Jon and Vinny's restaurant was a dedication to all dishes Italian. This is where I have a hard time contemplating in wanting to make a visit.

Italian restaurants and Fairfax is hard for me to make visits because of parking situation around that part of the town and a few suggested places I can go for Italian nearer to my area (south LA). However, by luck of the stars, I was in the area a few doors down at Sweet Chick and a few cancellation that afforded to me attend.


I was a huge fan of the real life chefs of Jon and Vinny. I was mesmerized by their presentations and hard charge in utilizing everything on their ingredients at the Animal restaurant, which was skewered towards American fare with a touch of few European influence. With this place, they left no doubt in that this will be purely Italian.

First, when you walked in, the huge masonry stone oven is right in front of the bar counter at the left hand side of the entrance. You can tell they will be taking their pizza task very seriously. Oh yeah, even getting a seat at the counter or trying to score a table without reservation will be mission imPASTAble. Yes, I am working on my puns in on this article.

There are 5 restaurants that the duo have involved themselves in that are immensely popular and this place was no exceptions. I chanced on the fact that someone will not showed up. I gladly took a counter seat after a 45 minutes wait when someone didn't showed up for reservation. That person missed out big time in my book.

What did I wanted when I entered Jon and Vinny's? Get this... meatballs!


I'm sure they will tell me that missing out on their famous pizza will be case, but I just wanted to try their handmade marinara braised beef with the heirloom tomato sauce I had been hearing about. At that weird point of my life, I wasn't going to take things for granted. My gosh, these things were just incredible! With the ricotta sprinkled all over and being complimented with the grilled bread, this was the thing I realized I can't lived without.

Supposedly I read somewhere the sauce was made with Bianco DiNapoli peeled tomato, which was from the famed pizza maker Chris Bianco. I would say bravo on this choice.

After dabbling with a few olives and cheese on the menu, I was already satisfied. Within an aroma, something made me with that whiff. I sit so close to stone oven and I can see and smell every pizza being assemble and shove to the take-out boxes. Yes, apparently take outs are the big operation at this tight limited-capacity, popular restaurant. For all those that didn't reserved and can't wait for the table, take outs are the best option.

Roman Gladiator (Bacon, Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, and Ham)

Yours truly here decided that giving in to temptations are the benefits to let the readers know whether or not the pizza also lived up to enormous expectation. Without a shadow of doubt, I can't believe that I believed in no carbs diet. This is worth the cheat meal I have been saving up for. Everyone will know that I believe the crust is the important element on any pizza. The charred on the edge of the round crust was phenomenal. For some, it looked burned, but I say the char add more flavor to crust.

The Roman Gladiator pizza with every conceivable meat toppings (Bacon, Italian sausage, pepperoni and ham) was a meatlover's dream. With the crust, this pizza from Jon and Vinny's is now one of my favorite pizza in town along with Spicy Salami Honey pizza.

The return trip to Jon and Vinny's will have to include some pasta dishes next time. If there is anything you must go for Jon and Vinny's is their meatballs. Seriously, that's something cannot be missed.

As in for the guy who decided not to show up for his reservation... a huge thanks from me!

Jon and Vinny
412 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Jon and Vinny's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, November 12, 2018

Brooklyn Style Sicilian Grandma Pie Found at Milana's New York Pizzeria

There is one thing in LA I have a hard time finding.

Apparently, Sicilian pizza in square form is almost non-existent, but what's harder to find? Grandma style Pie pizza. Nooooo, not talking about Little Caesar's pizza or some thick deep dish, but a square form that is considered Grandma's style, which is more simplistic, but yet not too many places would carried it.

Front Entrance

Think of a pan style pizza with thin layer of cheese on top of bucko layers of tomato sauce, where the crust would become crispy around the edge. Instead of thick stuff style pizza, it's more of thin layer with crust being more flat layered with the huge amount of sauce over the cheese.

I think a lot of people are familiar with Pizza Hut's pan style pizza where the pizza pie would be cook in a pan and the outer crust would be baked to crispy style oily perfection. Think of Grandma's style pizza of that nature, but with olive oil on the crust with the pie being tomato-ized with the sauce.


Milana's New York Pizzeria was the one restaurant I can find in Los Angeles area that served that kind of pizza... Brooklyn style Sicilian. Being frank, most people associated with thin crust with new york pizza. You can pretty much guessed the conflict of people surmising that Sicilian pizza is pan style thick, but also getting New York pizza crust to be thin.

Can it be a combustible mix? Believe it or not, This type of pizza is a rarity in this part, but very cherished.


Let's break it down a bit, Sicilian pizza's dough will be riser and thick. Whereas in the Brooklyn style Sicilian, it's a grandma pie where this is coated with olive oil in the pan to make the dough soft and chewy. You can see the dough for yourself on how thick it was. For some, it looks thin slice, but was very deliberately crispy and not a riser as some expected like a midwest style Sicilian pizza (square or rectangle) based on the preference.

Based on Bon Apetite, apparently Grandma Pie such as this thin style Sicilian is getting more popular in the east coast, so that's why I was hankering to find any place that would carried it. Hard to find such an unique style pizza out here on the west coast unless a transplant can bring it over. As you can guess, Milina from New York is bringing it over.


Oh, what else is impressive in this non-descript shop along 4th street in downtown Long Beach that would make me come back for more? It's their bread sticks! No kidding on that one. With their marina sauce, this was divine. Love the soft chewy texture over the hard thick ones you get from the other bakeshop that offered these. You will love it baked out of the oven where the breakdown on these sticks are just like breaking open a muffin.

Great to have something like this exist. You can have always have a grandma to bake a pizza like this for you, but it's always great to find a place that does make this type of pizza.

Milana's New York Pizzeria
165 E. 4th Street
Long Beach, CA 90802

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tunisian Kosher Found at Harissa Restaurant

I had an eventful night in good south of Beverly Hill.

Usually, avoiding the glitzy, shopping area of this part of the town was a must. Imagine if you will, there is a more upscale, posh part of the town that attracts big spenders to those high end boutique shops you have seen in the movie "Pretty Woman" and "Beverly Hill Cops". Going two blocks south, you'll get more of the intimate restaurants without the cost gouging.

Seafood Board

Harissa is an hybrid Tunisian and French restaurant that is in the heart of the less intimidating area of Pico Blvd, that is more for the humble crowd. The restaurant started by Alain Cohen was an addition to the space next to his Kosher deli aptly named "Got Kosher".

Charcuterie Board

A select group of influential "influencers" and I got invited to attend a diner hosted Mr. Cohen in his Tunisian influenced Kosher restaurant. It was delight to see Alain go in depth about his upbringings and family background that inspired into opening up a deli. In no time, it also led him to open up his very own restaurant after Alain tried every hands in every possible positions in restaurant world to understand the inner workings to operate an establishment.

Alain's Tuna Sandwich

I researched it where Mr. Cohen decided to go all in by transferring to a restaurant from a casual Kosher cafe where he offers the upmost Jewish cuisine of Shabbat provisions with anything from challahs to vegan dishes that holds to the Jewish traditions. By transferring to a full fledged restaurant, it opened up more room to accommodate diners with tables and a patio seating just outside of the space.


This happening dinner hosted by our esteemed host Alain, where he regaled us with his upbringing in France where the influences of some of the dishes can be shown through, with the Tunisian fare that dazzled in display. First came the epic Seafood board that consists of gravlax with bouhka and salmon terrine. That itself would be highlight if we didn't get more to come. Learned from Alain on that some of the importing of these exquisite item like gravlax can be hefty. So worth savoring for.

Lemon Raisin Chicken Couscous

Next up are the charcuterie board. This highlighted some of beef prosciutto, lamb pancetta, and chicken pate with cognac. The two most defined North African dish of Tunisa I was about to experience came right after the boards. The Alain's Tuna Sandwich and the Lemon Raisin Chicken Couscous.

First off on the couscous, this would be my 2nd time ever in experienced this unique small steamed balls of semolina. I know, I am ashamed in admitting that fact. Fortunately, Harissa can right this wrong by showing us their version of this timeless North African dish with cauliflower version of couscous. My other experience was from an Algerian restaurant who showcased this dish.

The tuna sandwich named after our host/owner was bundled with hard boiled egg in a bun flavored with mechouia and hot chili paste of Harissa (now you know restaurant was name after the popular chili paste of Tunisa).

This unforgettable meal sets off all sorts of possibilities of what Tunisian fare can be and we also were informed of what it takes for the meal needing to be Kosher. Yes, this restaurant obviously observes the requirement of Jewish dietary regulations.

If you ever hit up Beverly Hills, forget the glitz on the northend, and hit up south for a memorable humble meal of this spectacular cuisine. More importantly, it's Kosher!

Harissa Restaurant
8914 Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Top Notch Pollo a La Brassa at Higo Chicken

In a world where we don't often get the best of both world, we often tend to get the poor imitation.

That's where the word "fusion" get the bad rap.

Causa Rellena - Whipped Potato with Aji Amarillo, filled with Shredded Chicken

How did we come with this poor misconception? Pretty much I can think it was originated from people who wants to mix two different things together and hoped the mashed-up works. I still think the worst idea in the world are the durian pancake or ube latte. You just can't pleased everyone by mixing some stuff.


Higo Chicken is a brainchild of the owners who started up Higo Sushi that had opened down the street from this Pan-Latin Cuisine place. It's a Peruvian cuisine that had a hand with some Japanese influences, especially with the ingredients. Higo Chicken obviously can obviously be Pollo a la Brasa (Rotisserie Chicken), but they do a bit more than what the name suggested.

The famed Rostierrie Chicken with SpinachTallarin with Basil Sauce and Cheese

First, I pursue some of the items on the menu where I was curious about the ingredients on the dishes. Especially the potato being a popular ingredients on both the apps and the mains. Pasta is also another item reign supreme in the menu as well. I especially love their version of the tallarin (think spaghetti, but in this case spinach spaghetti with basil sauce!).

Crazier thing is that we all need to try the Causa Rellena, which is like a whipped potato puree with a shredded chicken in the middle. This is a sight to be hold when it was presented.


Their dessert is also another worth checking out. One of the offering was a lucuma flavored ice cream, which the fruit itself is a native of Peru. I could best described the taste like durian minus the smell. For ice cream, it's bearable and worth the experience it is given.

My plan coming here wasn't to compared authentic Peruvian with Latin fusion food. Far from it. In my pleasant dining experience here, I founded in that even though the owners who dabbled with the artistry of Japanese cuisine in their other location with a few Peruvian dishes in that sushi joint. Having them to decide to invest fully on a separate location to dedicate Peruvian dishes was a great call. With no regrets, I can honestly say this should be an authentic Latin fare everyone can enjoy.

Just like my deal with Urban Cup review, I'm still hoping fusion cuisine thrives in my area.

ps. I have placed this restaurant as one of my go to place for chicken in Los Angeles / Orange County. Check out my other chicken dishes related restaurants on this Top 10 List.

Higo Chicken
722 E Whittier Blvd
La Habra, CA 90631