Another contender enters the ring, but this isn’t Super Smash Bros although you might think a Mario and Luigi have something to do with this. Good one, right? Looking back through the blog, we’ve talked about pizza… a lot. Can you blame us? We’ve highlighted our favorite pizza ever, our favorite pizza in LA, simple homemade pizza, a healthy homemade recipe, and much more. We even wrote a blog post about pizza on our other blog. More recently, we realized that there’s a growing market here in LA that is heavily influenced by the success of Subway, Chipotle, and other “build your own” food stops. At the time, we tried Pieology and Pizza Rev, and we wrote about our comparative review HERE.
It might not have been Subway, but it seems that the sandwich juggernaut gets the credit for redefining the fast food experience. That extra amount of ownership that you have over the finished product because you had more of a, say, than normal in the constructive process brings you back for more. Chipotle is the latest company to turn billions of dollars from this consumer experience and while small poke shops are barely keeping their head above water doing the same, the dream remains for chefs and entrepreneurs. They’re looking for the perfect food for an untrained chef to put together lunch-lady style. This food would have to be easy to assemble, use inexpensive ingredients, and popular. Was anyone else thinking of pizza?
The sun is down and it’s a cool night in early December. The allure of downtown Culver City draws us in and after parking, we walk Main Street. It’s a hip area for that demographic that loves small plates and craft beers but we LOVE food and we want a meal. After checking out a few menus and feeling the auras emanating from each location, we are seated at Cafe Ugo.
It was impeccable. 4/5. We wanted to sit outside and they brought us our own heating tower. It wouldn’t work so they got someone to fix it on the spot. We were slow to decide and our waiter put down the load he was busing in order to take our order when we looked ready. We didn’t even call him over. He had recommendations (and they weren’t based on price), he had patience, he had class, and he had a personality. My water was almost always filled, and if it wasn’t for a lapse near the end of the meal I would have given a perfect 5. When our heater went out, they immediately swapped out the propane tank for a new one. Just excellent.
A large restaurant with indoor and outdoor options, busy bar fronts and quiet back rooms. 3/5. The tables were just not a comfortable size. It was awkward but everything was clean and orderly. I didn’t love the makeshift walls for the patio but recognize their convenience for weather changes. While I had no major issues, there was nothing to set this place apart from a normal restaurant, dare I say, even a Cheesecake Factory.
There are always faults when you aren’t at a Michelin restaurant but they aren’t significant here. 3/5. The ravioli needed more sauce. They were dry and the spinach filling did not compensate for the somewhat dry pasta. Still, they had flavor. The pizza was a true delight to eat. It hit every flavor profile. Salty cheeses with acidic tones from balsamic that were tied together nicely on a well made crust. The structural integrity was questionable, but this is pizza from Naples and not New York so that can’t be taken into consideration. The fried calamari was well cooked but the sauces were a necessity because the breading was not seasoned.
Let’s just say they could have easily charged us more and while the portions were not massive, the food quality made it a good value. 4/5. It’s downtown Culver City, it’s a prime location, and it’s a specialty. Authentic Naples style pizza is not a common dish around here, especially with an 1000 degree oven and serving it uncut. We were more than happy to pay the price on the bill and tip accordingly.
We were glad that we stopped by Cafe Ugo that night. It was enjoyable, we were relaxed, well fed, and left happy. We recommend it to groups of 2, 4, or 6 that are passing by or in the area. It might even be worth a little drive in non-peak hours. We’ll be back if we’re in the area and we’ll bring some family next time. And as always, stay hungry and fit!
I crave pizza probably 85% of the time. And while it would be nice to grab a slice of pizza every time I get that craving, it’s best for my body that I don’t. That’s why we create alternatives and moderations to satisfy these cravings. This is a shout-out to my mum who would make this healthy version of pizza for me for a snack all the time. It’s time for pizza toast! This is a healthier, much cheaper version of pizza that is sure to kick your pizza craving in the butt. It is incredibly, incredibly simple and could call for some creativity if you want to get snazzy with it.
Super simple, super easy, and you can make it what YOU want it to be. Have fun with the cheese, the sauce (try pesto!), and whatever toppings you want. This is a great snack or light meal. Enjoy it and make it yours! Use this healthy pizza alternative to stay hungry and fit!
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Yay! Happy Birthday to me! Chris and I had a great “birthday weekend” (his birthday is this coming Thursday—yes, a pair of Virgos) involving lots of good food and good company. Though I am peeved at myself for not taking more group photos, oh well! ABC Family obviously knew that it was my birthday weekend because it was a Harry Potter Weekend (yessss). So besides home We decided on our “group birthday dinner” (meaning more than just Chris and I) we would do on the Saturday. We couldn’t decide on a place…from Korea House to Efrain’s and we finally decided on one of our favorite spots, Tibet Kitchen. But before that, Saturday morning, we went with friends to go play Frisbee Golf on a hot morning. But the view was incredible.
Really should’ve taken pictures of the group as a whole, but it included co-workers, friends, and family–a great bunch. We all had a ton of food and felt pretty full…but not full enough to not get ice cream! We finished the night off well with plenty of ice cream to celebrate. It was a great time. The next morning (on my actual birthday) we went to breakfast at Lucille’s, a southern, New Orleans-style breakfast joint. I always hear how popular it is and we got there at the right time. No wait, and we got a seat outside on an absolutely beautiful morning. We obviously got some beignets to share and some dishes for ourselves. It was absolutely delicious and neither of us could finish it (hellooo leftovers!).
After we stuffed ourselves, we ran over to Flatirons Mall AMC (which has the most comfy recliner chairs, it’s ridiculous) and caught a double feature of The Butler and Riddick (both reviews to come). We enjoyed both, but came out starving because it was about 4 hours of movie time with no snacks in between (I forgot the popcorn!). After a long debate about what to eat, we decided on trying Protos Pizza up in North Boulder. And we loved it. We ordered 4 small pies (don’t worry, it was 4-slice, small slice pizzas, not real expensive) to try everything out. The ingredients were fresh, crust cooked to perfection, and a wonderful blend of flavors.
After that, Chris went to give a private swim lesson. We did a laid-back workout, and then headed to Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Restaurant. It was open late and we had never tried it. We ordered a “vegetarian passport meal for two” which ended up being a ton of food plus two drinks and dessert! Let’s just say there’s a good amount of leftovers in the fridge. It was an absolutely lovely night, we sat outside next to a creek and beautiful little lights. We enjoyed some drink and a lot of food and had a great time.
So I had a great great birthday, and I was lucky enough to get cards from loved ones and presents too. My parents sent me great gifts plus a boat load of Trader Joe’s goodies. Chris got me a wonderful collection of presents that was perfectly catered to who I am. Overall, I had a lovely birthday and look forward to celebrating Chris’ coming up soon. As always…stay hungry and fit!
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La Vecchia has always been a “treat” or “very special occasion” for my family and I. Most of you know I grew up in Santa Monica, California, and that’s where this gem is located. Whether it was birthday dinner, graduation dinner, or someone special from out of town visiting. I always have fond memories of being so excited and sitting in the restaurant devouring their delicious warm perfectly-cooked bread. It’s my mum’s favorite Italian place in town.
On this day, our last day in town during Memorial Day Weekend, my mum wanted to take us somewhere special for lunch before our flight. She would take no refusal on HER paying for lunch and she decided on La Vecchia’s. So we went RIGHT at opening–11am. It was hard to even get in because tree cutters were blocking the entrance. Finally, we got seated (first ones in so we knew everything was going to be OH SO FRESH). Chris didn’t know what he was in for but I was so excited, basically drooling for what was to come. The waiter came right up to us and gave us water and…yes, you know it, BREAD. And their amazing dipping sauce. I was in heaven.
Each slice was as warm, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside as ever. Just as good as I remembered it. And that garlic-basil-olive oil dipping sauce is out of this world. Basic ingredients, but they do it right. Now another food I always remember from La Vecchia is the fried calamari. My mum really wanted to treat us so we got the calamari and a tuna salad. The calamari was just as good as I remember and the tuna was fresh. Awesome appetizers.
When I was little, I would always always always order the angelhair pasta. It was the only pasta I would eat from here. With olive oil and garlic. Mmm! However, I wasn’t in the mood for that today and actually had a really tough time deciding. Eventually I landed with the margherita pizza which I of course could not finish. My mum got fish and roasted vegetables and Chris got spaghetti and meatballs (classic Italian dish–he always has to go for this or chicken parm to try new Italian places out).
Overall, we were very happy with each of our dishes. The veggies were roasted to perfection for my mum and the fish was seasoned beautifully yet subtly. The pizza had a nice thin, crisp crust and the cheese wasn’t overwhelming. Great balance of flavors. Chris really enjoyed the spaghetti and meatballs because it was fresh, the flavors were wonderful, the tomato sauce wasn’t too heavy, and the pasta was cooked just right. The only tragic thing about this meal was that we couldn’t eat our leftovers since we were going on the plane! I’m still regretting that. If you’re in Santa Monica, stop by La Vecchia on Main St. for a bite to remember and a great way to stay hungry and fit!
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Some of you may have heard of BodyBuilding.com. No, I am not trying to become a body builder (though, that is what all of us do when we exercise or even eat–building our bodies in different ways), but I am trying to win a contest, and more importantly, show myself up. This is to prove myself that I can always be better than what I am and that I can use willpower to achieve whatever I want. I am entering the Strong to the Cor Challenge sponsored by Cellucor (a popular supplement company).
It is a contest for already fit people (though I’ve seen some men with 27% body fat…not exactly “fit” for men) to get extremely fit. This means cutting down fat and building up muscle. If you know me already, I’m fit, but there’s always room for improvement. I want to get stronger, faster, and more capable. I have Hungry as my coach and I could ask for no better as he knows me best and also happens to live with me.
There’s a $10,000 1st place grand prize (in additional to like 2k worth of supplements and products) with some 2nd and 3rd place prizes too. And it’s 10k to both a female and a male. But that’s not why I’m doing it. I don’t think I’ll actually win the grand prize in the face of all the other females who are doing it–especially those starting with 27% body fat and able to get such a larger transformation. I’m doing this, like I said, to prove to myself that I can push myself farther than I ever have before and really see what my body can do.
It’s a 6-week transformation, ending in early August. Tomorrow, I truly start. For the past 10 days, I did a cleanse to prime the body and now it’s ready to kick butt. So today was my in-between day, eating whatever I wanted to savor it all up. Pancakes for breakfast, big cheesy burrito for lunch, and pizza and ice cream for dinner. I had been off dairy for 10 days so today was a goooood day. Tomorrow, I start a week of 4 water protein shakes a day, doing what the cast from Spartacus did to get lean and ripped. It’s probably going to be one the hardest tests of my willpower yet. But, I’m excited for it. It will be a week of hell, but I believe I can do it if I set my mind to it.
So support me! I know that sometimes the killer workouts and nutritional plan are gonna make me want to quit, but I want to see how far I can go. Here is my BodySpace, I’ll try to be updating as much as possible. After watching Man of Steel, I’d love to be paid to workout every day and prime my body to become a superhero, but we can’t have it all, right? So with you guys supporting me and Chris there for me every step, I believe I can get far. Let’s do this! Time to be hungry and fit!
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Watch out, it’s another stop on our New Jersey Easter Vacation! And of course, yes, it’s another food stop… And this time, it’s PIZZA! Who doesn’t love pizza? (Awkward for lactose intolerants…) So if you read our About section, you know I hail from California. Before I went to New York, I thought we Californians had pretty good pizza. Boy, was I wrong! Not that Californian pizza is horrible, but it just doesn’t compare to New York or New Jersey pizza. Especially, Tony’s Italian Kitchen.
It’s easy to pass up Tony’s, it’s in a tiny strip mall along with some other offices like Chris’ chiropractor and other little places. But once you discover it, it’s a gem! Luckily, Chris and his family had been getting Tony’s pizza for years, so all I had to do was tag along. The first bite I had, I was able to declare this the best pizza I’ve ever had, and trust me, I’ve had a lot of pizza. More specifically, it has the best cheese pizza. His family very often gets it to bring it home. And then I always eat too much.
So during this New Jersey Easter trip, it was our second food stop after having bagels for breakfast. We had two of our friends with us and split a large cheese pie between us. The wait was tantalizing. And then it came out to us, sizzling and hot. We always let it cool a little so the cheese can settle. And you should always have a Peach Snapple with it too. That first bite into that pizza was awesome. We hadn’t had it for six months or so, so it was that much better!
What really makes Tony’s the best is the amazing sauce. I don’t know what they do to it, but it is so fresh. It was really difficult not to scarf it down way completely fast. The crust is scrumptious and dusted to perfection. If you think you’ve had good pizza, come to Tony’s Italian Kitchen and see if you’ve really had the BEST. Cheers!
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