All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.
Sunday, my boyfriend and I decided to try the new taco joynt in my hood, House of Tacos. Sadly, it was closed. Stunned by this development, we staggered down the street trying to think of what to do next. We were on the block of Hollywood Blvd that is home to my favorite Thai restaurant – Torung – but Torung doesn’t open until 5pm. Then I noticed a little hole in the wall that I had never seen before.
My boyfriend, Miles, can be a very finicky eater & is known to refuse food all day – if the things he is served fall short of his expectations. I, on the other hand, will eat pretty much anything. Miles refused to eat this steak from Chan Dara
because he was EXPECTING it to be a tradition Chinese-style green pepper beef sorta thing – with steak strips & green bell pepper. Mind you – Miles eats steak. He loves steak. But on this particular day, he wanted green pepper beef & this steak was not that. So – it came home & was fed to the dogs & he skipped all food all day until dinner.
That is a lot of pressure for ME. I like to feed people. I like people to enjoy their meals in public. I like to eat WITH someone. With someone who is also eating. Finding a place that will live up to Miles’ very specific tastes is sometimes a Herculean task. <insert deep sigh>
So – I see PIZZA & sandwiches – meat sandwiches. Miles eats those things. We stood outside, gazing at the posted menu. I expected Miles to respond positively quickly – but he did not. He gets suspicious if he sees things like “speck panini” or if the cheeses listed are unfamiliar. While I considered whether or not it was safe to pressure him, the two customers sitting inside the door over OUTRAGEOUS looking tiramisu & espressos beckoned to us. “Come in! The food is AMAZING!” I suspected the food would be amazing. Look at the menu:
but if Miles spots one errant or too exotic ingredient listed on a sandwich – the whole place starts looking hinky.
“Really! They make their own bread here! Come in,” the diners insisted.
I wanted to go in. I peeked inside:
Such a cutie little spot! Such a surprise on that very ugly block on Hollywood. This is exactly the kind of place this area needs more of. Quaint, cheerful & with imaginative & really fresh food. While I weighed whether or not I wanted to insist we go in & risk another Miles hunger strike, the proprietress came from behind the counter to the threshold where we continued to conspicuously hover and, in a melodic Italian accent – also beckoned us in. “They have pizza, Miles. How dangerous could that be?”
“Best pizza in town,” a voice said.
At that point, I felt like a lame tourist afraid to step into a restaurant that wasn’t an international chain. I pulled Miles inside.
He does look a little worried, doesn’t he? But, as it turned out – there was nothing to be nervous about. My smoked salmon & goat cheese panini (to which I had them add some arugula) and Miles’ ham & mozzarella panini were as delicious as they were pretty – and they each came with a light little side salad for an extra .75 cents.
And Miles got this lemony dessert which put a big grin on his face. He declared it delightful!
And look at the little coffee planters on the tables:
I Panini di Ambra is owned & run by an Italian husband & wife team. They were warm & gracious and when our hostess noticed that Miles only ate half his sandwich (because he is a light eater) – she worried that he didn’t like it – and offered him any other sandwich on the menu instead. Very sweet!
I don’t think you will find a fresher or more delicious panini anywhere in Los Angeles! I can’t wait to go back & try the pizza!