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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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