Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bravo Again

Ok, I may have finally found NY pizza in Los Angeles after nearly 30 years of hunting. The last time I found a great pie (in NY people call a pizza a pie as a shortened way of saying pizza pie) was about 20 years ago. Since my discovery was two decades ago, that place no longer exists, so I've been on a hunt ever since for something equal or at least comparable. Since I'm not a big pizza eater, I will not eat just any piece of dough covered with a red sauce; it must be good enough for me to enjoy the fat and carbs I am eating or I'd rather eat a good salad.

I was hopeful when I read that Bravo Pizzeria in Santa Monica was related to the Bravo I wrote about in an earlier post on Third Street Promenade, but making good Italian food doesn't necessarily extend to making good pizza. It was also a good sign that the brothers who own this place also have a restaurant in NY, so they actually know how a (NY) pizza should taste. To a pizza snob like me (I'm from NY), the crust must be thin and crisp, the sauce must have flavor, and the cheese must be of the non chemical kind. There are a few places that make a passable version, ZPizza and Pizza Rustica both offer good healthy west coast versions, and Papa John's does a good chain version, but Bravo gets my vote for first place in the endless NY pizza snob contest for the best pie on the West Coast.

Yes, the prices are a little more than elsewhere, and yes, they only deliver if you live nearby, but this place is worth both the price and the trip to their small counter window overlooking Main Street with a cute outdoor courtyard. They offer specials on Tuesdays for a 2nd pizza at half price, and delivery discounts on Mondays and Wednesdays, so you can have your pie and eat it too price wise. The classic Margherita is the definition of pizza, fantastic quality mozzarella with a great tomato sauce; the Fresca is actually vegan, it's basically a vegetable no cheese pizza; the Forget About It, is a chicken parmigiano pizza, and the Bada Bing is a sausage, pepper, onion and mozzarella pizza that is like a sausage and pepper sandwich on a pizza.

If you don't like pizza, they have grilled vegetable salads, eggplant rollatini, sandwiches, wraps and pastas with both Californian and New York tastes in mind, ranging from a classic meatball hero with marinara, mozzarella and parmesan on a baguette, to a veggie wrap. If you want to add something as a side, they make Belgian fries here (fries were invented in Belgium), which means they make fries the right way to get them crispy on the outside, hot and tender on the inside. You can go with a typically Belgian Mayo as a dip for the fries or go with ketchup; try both and compare American style to Belgian style.

And if you have any room for dessert, their cannolis are flown in from their sister restaurant in NY's Little Italy and come either plain or dipped in Belgium chocolate. If you have never had a real cannoli, have one here and you will be spoiled for life.

Bravo's menu says, "Food from the Heart that feeds the Soul." You can literally taste the love and care they put into their food, which is why their food is fabulous.

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