Escape to Naples — in Hollywood

Pizza Oven, Photo Credit Wonho Photo

Most of us would do just about anything for a relaxing sojourn in Napoli about now. If you’re stuck in LA, you can skip away for a long al fresco lunch or dinner, complete with a glass or two of Prosecco, Calamari Saltati, a Margherita pizza, and zucchini flowers filled with ricotta.

Antica da'Michele Outdoors
Photo Credit: Wonho Photo

The famed L’Antica Pizzeria da’Michele opened its first U.S, location last month in the former Cafe Des Artistes spot in Hollywood. Just blocks from Highland on McCadden Place, owner/designer Francesco Zimone has created a magical indoor/outdoor space for Angelenos to eschew cauliflower crusts in favor of traditional delights.

Francesco Zimone
Francesco Zimone

“We have meticulously brought the same standards, recipes, ingredients, and respect for Neapolitan pizza to Los Angeles,” Zimone says. “Our Hollywood location serves as a flagship to plant our roots in the U.S. and share our passion for this unique pizza experience.”

Michele Rubini
Michele Rubini

Head Pizzaiolo Michele Rubini prepares sophisticated, authentic pizzas in keeping with the exacting standards of Neapolitan pizza making, using imported ingredients, high-protein flour, fiordelatte cheese, and imported tomatoes. Guests can watch the preparation as it takes place in Da Michele’s signature stone oven as they relax in the restaurant’s charming courtyard.

The restaurant’s sophisticated indoor lounge area and bar are appointed with a fireplace, natural woods, and Baltic stone. The decor also features blue and white tiles, iron from historic buildings in Naples, and leathers influenced by Zimone’s family home.

Margherita Pizza
Margherita Pizza

The pizza selection includes a classic Margherita, a cheeseless Marinara, the fried and baked Montanara, Cosacca with marinara and Pecorino, and Bianca, with double Mozzarella, Pecorino, and basil.

Executive Chef Antonio Giordano
Executive Chef Antonio Giordano

Under Executive  Chef Antonio Giordano (an Italian restaurant owner, formerly of Gujsta Bakery and Terroni), the restaurant also features a complemetary menu of Italian coastal cuisine. Aperativo selections include meatballs, calamari dishes, a variety of salads and vegetable selections, and pasta dishes.

Lunch Menu:
Da Michele – Lunch (1)

Dinner Menu:

Da Michele – Dinner




12:00 pm – 10:00 pm


12:00 pm – 11:00 pm


12:00 pm – 11:00 pm


12:00 pm – 11:00 pm


12:00 pm – 12:00 am


12:00 pm – 12:00 am


12:00 pm – 12:00 am


L’Antica Pizzeria da’Michele

1534 N. McCadden Place

Hollywood, California 90028


Te’Kila in the Valley

According to legend, tequila was discovered when a bolt of lightning struck a crop of agaves, causing a fire that released a honey that caught the attention of the native people. Fermented, the honey had both relaxing powers and could incite euphoria. The indigenous people considered this drink to be an elixir of the gods.


Te’Kila, Sherman Oaks celebrates this spirit that carries a mythical past. In 2016, the valley outpost of Te’Kila took over the legendary Stanley’s on Ventura Boulevard. With over 150 varieties of tequila and mezcal, as well as an inspired cocktail menu, Te’Kila is a great place to meet friends for after work or late night drinks. The restaurant is generous with happy hours, Monday through Friday, 3-7 pm, all day Sunday, and late nights, Monday through Thursday, 10 pm – 12 am.  But there’s much more.


The menu at Te’Kila is classic SoCal Mexican with a healthy twist, plenty of dishes that are amenable for vegetarians, as well as carnivores. Many of the dishes are centered around the kitchen’s housemade corn tortillas, prepared with yellow, blue, or white corn.


There’s definitely a neighborhood appeal to Te’Kila. It’s the kind of place with regulars but always welcoming to newcomers. In Los Angeles tradition, there’s a Sunday brunch with dishes like chilaquiles and posole. Four days a week, the restaurant offers specials. There’s Margarita Mondays; Taco Tuesdays; and Fajita Thursdays, as well as Sunday Funday. The restaurant and its lounge, Rita’s, host special events, tequila tastings, live music, comedy nights and more. Details are available on the Rita’s Instagram.

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Favorite Drinks

The Te’kila Margarita: Fresh lime juice, agave nectar, 100% blue agave tequila blanco, premium Triple Sec. Add fresh fruit for a surcharge. Also available as a pitcher or gigante.

Avocado Margarita: with tequila blanco, avocado, cilantro, St. Germain, fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, agave

Tequila flights

The Hennchata: Housemade horchata — topped with a mini bottle of Hennessy VS


tekila food

Favorite Foods:

Ceviche: Fresh chopped cod with fresh squeezed lime juice, tomato, cucumbers, red radish, green onion, avocado, and plantain chips

Plaintain Tostones wiith guacamole, roasted, corn, cotija cheese

Esquites with roasted corn, tajin, mayonnaise, and cotija cheese

Queso Dip with housemade queso

Sonora Chopped Salad

Tacos: Baja shrimp or cod, al pastor, carne asada, chicken tinga, carnitas and vegetarian options including soyrizo and cauliflower

Housemade corn tortillas

Shrimp Diablo

Burritos with refried beans, spanish rice, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, roasted jalapeno. Add chicken, steak, shrimp, grilled salmon or vegan chicken.

Fajitas with carne asada, chicken, shrimp or vegan chicken

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Te’Kila Sherman Oaks

13817 Ventura Blvd.

Sherman Oaks, California

(818) 986-4623

Lunching in Beverly Hills: Crustacean

heart of palm crab cake

The Modern Vietnamese icon Crustacean is launching a three-course Executive Lunch ($35) that highlights its Asian fusion classics. The Beverly Hills restaurant has recently returned after a remodel, which includes several floating walls that can be shifted to accommodate private meetings.

So now, you can join agents and studio executives, ladies who lunch, and deal makers for an elegant lunch in the heart of Beverly Hills.

First Course

Choice of
Beef Tartare with Yuzu Lemongrass Dressing, Toasted Rice Powder, Capers,
Truffle Dijon Shrimp
Mama’s Chicken Meatballs with Silken Tofu, Gochujang, Sesame Tempura
Wild Mushroom Wontons with Ginger and Lemongrass Coulis


HEARTS OF PALM CRAB CAKE with Spicy Aioli (supplement $6)


KAMPACHI SASHIMI with Crispy Shallots, Purple Cauliflower, Limeaid Cloud,
Tiato Oil, Seasme Wine
 (supplement $6)

Second Course

Crustacean gem salad
Crustacean Gem Salad

Choice of
LITTLE GEMS SALAD with Eight-Herb Green Goddess, Breakfast Radish, Crispy Taro,
Hydro Watercress, Cabbage, Roma Tomato

SHAKEN CHICKEN with Wok Flame Onions, Heirloom Tomatoes, Petit Watercress,
Crispy Potato, Roasted Mushrooms, Melted Scallion

RIB EYE DIP with Aged Cheddar Fondue, Caramelized Onion, Eight Hour Broth

VIETNAMESE CARAMEL WHITEFISH with Garlic Rice, Pickled Chayotes

Third Course
Enjoy With. . .
Sommelier’s Selection Red or White Wine Add $10
Mocktails Add $5

Soul Food Sunday Pop-Up Comes to Fairfax

The chefs of Annie’s Edibles have brought The Sunday Soul Food Pop Up to Fairfax’s Little Ethiopia from 11:30 am to 6 pm weekly. The LA-based catering company is a favorite of clients ranging from the NFL Network and Nike to TMZ.

Founder Annalisa Johnson says she wants her newly launched pop-up to be a place where neighbors, friends, family, and strangers can stop by for “funk music, fried chicken, and a hug.”


Since the pop-up is family owned and operated, you might even see Johnson’s 11-year old son chatting up guests and refilling glasses of strawberry lemonade. Other beverage options include purple rain punch.

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What’s on the menu? As they say in the South, “meat and three sides” — classics like shrimp and grits or oxtails and gravy to updated twists like habanero fried chicken and short rib french fries.


Each entree comes with — you got it — 3 sides, which include mac & cheese, candied yams, cornbread dressing, greens with smoked turkey, black-eyed peas, or red beans with smoked meat. Each meal comes with complimentary cornbread and whipped butter.

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And, of course, there’s dessert! Top off your Sunday meal with OMG banana pudding or peach cobbler.

The pop up takes place every Sunday from 11:30 AM to 6 PM at 1066 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019.

Ray’s & Stark Bar Firing Up a Trio of Seasonal Pizzas

With just days left in National Pizza Month, head to Ray’s & Stark Bar where Exec Chef Fernando Darin is firing up the wood-burning oven with some not-to-be-missed seasonal “pies.”

Ray's_Fernando Darin (1)

A self-taught pizzaiolo, Chef Darin has created pizzas that highlight seasonal ingredients like squash. Fernando grew up in the Brazilian countryside with his Brazilian family where his first exposure to a wood-fired oven was at his grandmother’s house.

Ray's & Stark Bar_Margherita Pizza in Oven

Years later, his wood-fired pizzas, both seasonal creations and signature year-round classics, have become the most popular item on the Ray’s and Stark Bar menu.

Ray's & Stark Bar_Squash Pizza

Try the Roasted Squash pizza with black truffle bechamel, fior di late, carmelized onion, and San Giacomo balsamic. It’s a definite winner.


Along with the Roasted Squash pizza, Darin’s newest seasonal creations include ALCI with San Marzano tomatoes, anchovy, garlic, black olives, pickled onion, and olive oil; and CAVOLO NERO with black kale, spinach, burrata, garlic, and Calabrian chiles.

Enjoy a Pinot or one of Stark Bar’s signature cocktails with a pizza or two this weekend!



It’s White Truffle Season @ Patina

White truffles

LA’s Michelin-starred Patina is hosting a very special dinner November 9.  According to truffle experts, this year’s white truffles are superb, due to ideal rainfall in Alba, Italy. And Patina’s Executive Chef Andreas Roller is thrilled to host the unforgettable dinner dedicated to this “culinary diamond”.

The not-to-be-missed six-course dinner will begin at 7 pm and feature not only white truffles but customized wine pairings. The menu includes both savory and sweet dishes, from California Spiny Lobster to White Chocolate Cremeaux. In addition to the White Truffle Dinner, Patina will be offering a white truffle add-on to various dishes throughout the season.

Patina's Andreas Roller
Photo Credit, Ghost Media, Inc.

“White truffles are one of our favorite ingredients to work with—everything from the smell, to the delicate taste is incredibly satisfying and a great compliment to our menu here at Patina,” shares Roller. “We work closely with our truffle supplier to select the best white truffles from Alba, Italy. They’re incredible and we can’t wait to share them with our guests.”

Tickets are $400 per person, including custom wine pairings for each dish. Reservations can be made online.


Santa Barbara Spot Prawn

uni vinaigrette, ossetra caviar, chive, white truffle


Soft Poached Farm Egg

tagliatelle, bottarga, white truffle



cauliflower, vin jaune sabayon, white truffle


California Spiny Lobster

beet, spuds, nasturtium, white truffle


Milk-Fed Veal

wild mushrooms, sorel-spaetzle, white truffle, sauce albufera


White Chocolate Cremeaux

huckleberry, foie gras, white truffle



Spicy Ninja Sauce: Seed to Bottle Takes Root on The Big Island

Lauren McKinley first met Christopher Bornstein through a friend when she was on vacation in Hawaii in 2014. The two hit it off and started a long distance relationship. Lauren moved to the Big Island on a whim and soon after, the Spicy Ninjas were born.


An Accidental Blend

The couple met up at a coffee shop with two friends, Ben and Duke, who were making chili sauce for  local restaurant. “We thought we could make a business so we got together with guy getting his PhD in plant biology with a focus on banana research,” Chris says. “We made three little batches of hot sauce that tasted terrible and looked horrible! I ended up pouring all the batches in a blender. We ended up with this beautiful orange color and a citrusy smell and flavor. It took a month and a half to recreate because we didn’t write down the original and now it’s our best selling sauce!”

S.N.S. OG – Three Wrongs Make a Right! Sauce features organic carrots,ghost chili, Hawaiian chili, Datil chili,and Hawaiian Akua chili, which the Spicy Ninjas say goes with everything from a gourmet stir-fry, popcorn, or a margarita rim.

Organic Seed to Bottle

That almost mistake led to the organic seed to bottle hot sauce company, Spicy Ninja Sauce. Chris and Lauren describe Spicy Ninja as “fantastically tasty and singularly unique hot sauces with an eclectically wild and exciting array of flavors fashioned from local ingredients that represent tropical bliss and paradise.”

Chris says one of the couple’s goals is to boost organic farming on The Big Island. “The state of Hawaii imports 90% of its food and it doesn’t have to be that way. We need to protect our oceans and wildlife here,” he says.

Today, Spicy Ninja Sauces are available in Foodland, Hawaii’s largest grocery store, health food stores on the island, and are also used as  wing sauce at Kona Brewing company, as well as in other island restaurants, as well as on the Spicy Nina Sauce Website.

Sweet bang

Bring on the Heat

In addition to the O.G. sauce, the line includes whimsical sauces such as God Fearing Monkeys in the Temple of Sweet Chili Bang Bangs, a Thai-inspired sauce with local organic lemongrass, ginger, ghost and Hawaiian chili, bananas, and dried jackfruit; Mauna Kea Magma with organic local coffee and beets; T-Rex similar to Magma but with turmeric; God Fearing Monkeys in Bob’s Disco Inferno with banana, poi (taro root) and raw cacao; Super Typhoon and the Pina Colada of DOOM with cast iron-toasted coconut and Hawaiian pineapple, Biblical Burn with organic sweet potato, burdock root, cardamon, frankincense and myrrh, spiced with yellow Peruvian chili; God Fearing Monkeys and the Bengali Spice Pirates – Calypso’s Full Tilt Boogey with chocolate habaneros; Mapaches Voladores y el Ejército de los Fantasmas Verdes! (Flying Raccoons and the Army of the Green Ghosts!)) with tomatillos, Green Ghost and other chilis; and Tiger Claw Lee’s Smooth Groove Releases the Kraken! with organic soursop, nettle leaf, jasmine tea, sarsaparilla, and a host of peppers.


VERY HOT – Advanced Tactical Weaponized Starfruit Darth Star O.G.; VERY HOT – Cupid’s Rock n’Roll will Never Die! A Spicy Ninja Love Ballad V 3.1 with ghost chillies, dried habaneros and dried ghosts, damiana, toasted black sesame, ashwaganda, maca root, cinnamon and raw cacao pods; Flaming Piña Hopocalypse!;  “Pussyfootin’ Around” Bengali Spice Pirates with banana and papaya; ‘Pussyfootin’ Around’ Piña Colada – Revenge of The Happy Chinchilla!; and Tipsy Coco Mango Madness.

Just in time for Pumpkin Spice season is Drunkin’ Pumpkin with kabocha squash and Koaloa Spiced Rum.

pau vodka

Spicy Cocktails

“Spicy Ninja has really taken off with mixologists,” the couple notes. “Heat has found its way even into companies that make sriracha or habanero beer, as well as spicy vodkas. Adding hot sauce to rims is a thing. When we are at Lava Beach Club, we get mai tais with hot sauce for a spicy mai tai. It’s also good in a Bloody Mary. Mauna Kea Copper Bar uses our sauces and PAU Vodka in Maui does a whole series with vodka, a mixer thing. Craft Brew Alliance sells the sauces in its gift shops, including an airport location. It’s huge!

Slow Grow

Despite the runaway popularity, the Ninjas are focused on growing their business slowly. “It’s the first business we’ve ever had and we didn’t expect it to blow up quickly,” says Chris. “We  were expecting to be able to buy our ingredients from farmers and it breaks my heart but farming has taken a downturn. It’s hard to find people who want to have anything to do with farming, especially organic, so we have to do lots of it ourselves.”

Large scale farming doesn’t vibe with the couple’s philosophies. “We don’t agree with it, especially on an island like we are. What goes into the ground goes into the ocean. Reefs die off. We blame it on sunscreen but it’s also chemical fertilizers that end up in the ocean,” explains Chris.

As a result, the couple has created their own growing methods. They are becoming more complex with what they do and are getting ready to build their first manufacturing facility.


Working Together

Lauren says she and Chris come from two different backgrounds with different spice tolerances. She grew up in New England with parents who “didn’t even do onions and garlic” and had to build up her spice tolerance. “I have always been appreciative of food and worked in restaurants and the food industry. I enjoy cooking but would happily have someone else cook for me!” She enjoys coming up with different flavor ideas.

Chris, who was stationed in Asia when he was in the Navy, was involved in cooking and food. He loves to experiment with ingredients. “The crazy thing is how you change one part of something and the whole outcome will be different if you saute before or add in the beginning or end, the resulting sauce will be different.”

What’s Next?

The couple’s long-range plans include expanding across the U.S. but still keeping the manufacturing local with regional flavor differences. “Every region would have its own flavor and ingredients grown in that region,” says Lauren. “We’d have our best-selling sauces but also regional variations. We want to support local organic farming and to put our money where our mouth is.”

“We want to keep it simple and use what we have learned about growth,” says Chris. “Each region can have up to 15 sauces eventually, including the three main Hawaiian flavors, Magna OG, Super Typhoon, and Pina Colada of Doom.”


Taking Over the Spicy Green Planet

“We’ve done our research. Salsa is replacing ketchup and is now America’s number one condiment. We’ve been in business 3 years and seen heat tolerance building up and up. We have no trouble impressing some of the big hot sauce fanatics who like high heat,” says Chris.

“We’re also covering lot of people who don’t normally like hot sauce but are surprised by the flavors. It’s not peppers and vinegar,” adds Lauren.

The Spicy Ninjas want to blanket the US with hot peppers and groovy combinations. “We tell people to use in whatever you’re cooking as a seasoning and to add flavor,” says Lauren. “Our sauces are gourmet hot sauces for everyone, including the college student with no money who can add organic durian and chocolate habanero peppers to microwave ramen. It’s pretty darn good!”

Spicy Spicy

To Experience Spicy Ninja Sauce on the Mainland:

LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade Stand Returns to UCLA Royce Squad

Los Angeles foodies, wine lovers, and cocktail enthusiasts will gather next Saturday,  September 8 to eat, drink, and raise money to support pediatric cancer and support. At the annual LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade, to be held at UCLA’s Royce Hall Quad. The event has raised over $5.8 million to fund childhood cancer research and support services. Last year’s event raised over $1.3 million. The event also features a live and silent auction you won’t want to miss.

Chef Suzanne Goin and business partner Caroline Styne (Lucques, a.o.c., Tavern, 2018 Hollywood Bowl), along with Chef David Lenz (The Hungry Cat) host the special afternoon that features chefs and mixologists from SoCal and beyond.

General admission tickets are $195/each with children 12 and under admitted free. Purchase tickets online and check-in at the event.

Stroll the majestic lawn of UCLA while sampling signature items prepared by top chefs and mixologists. The 2018 lineup includes*:

    How Do I Get There?
    The event takes place at Royce Quad (also known as Dickson Court on Google Maps) located on UCLA’s campus. The address is 375 Portola Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095.

    Where Do I Park?
    Parking is available for $12 per car. All guests will park in Lot 2. To get to Lot 2 from the 405, take the Sunset Blvd. exit east (towards UCLA). After you pass the UCLA campus on your right, turn right onto Hilgard Ave. From there, make a right turn onto Westholme Ave. Make an immediate left onto the ramp and into Lot 2. Purchase a parking permit at the gate and park in any unmarked space. Signage will guide you from the parking lot to the event. Shuttles will also be available to take guests from the parking lot to and from the event.

    Where Is My Ticket?
    There are no physical tickets for this year’s event. Guest names will be on a list at check-in upon arrival. Kids 12 and under are free with an accompanying adult and do not need a ticket to enter the event. We also have a dedicated area to help keep the kids entertained.

    What Is The Timeline For The Event?
    11:30 am: Sponsor/All Access Ticket Holder entrance opens
    12:30 pm: General Admission entrance opens
    2:30 pm: Program/Live Auction (food/beverage tents will be closed at this time)
    3:30 pm: Silent Auction closes
    4:30 pm: Event ends




    Summer on Sunset!

    summer of love album

    Over 50 years ago, the Summer of Love beckoned free spirits to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. In LA, the Sunset Strip was the scene for rock and counterculture.

    Through September 3, The City of West Hollywood, West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board (formerly Visit West Hollywood) and local business on the Strip are hosting revelers for the inaugural Summer on Sunset theme, Tribute to the Summer of Love.


    Throughout the sixties, hippies, musicians, and artists poured into the streets of WeHo and at iconic venues like the Whiskey a Go Go, The Roxy, and The Troubadour.

    Now, decades later, you can party in the spirit of the avant garde at some of the Sunset Strip’s most trendsetting spots.


    The List: Food, drink, and cultural events to keep you busy all summer long.

    Weekend on the Strip: If you’re hosting out of town guests or just want a hip weekend away, book a hotel room through Visit West Hollywood to receive a free $100 credit and a VIP pass so you can party like your favorite Instagram influencer.

    VIP Pass: Enjoy complimentary glass of champagne with your dinner at BOA, Katana  or Roku. Indulge in a half-price mega Margarita at Cabo Cantina, a half-price martini at Sunset Trocadero Lounge or a glass of bubbles at Ivory at the Mondrian. These are just a few of the special offerings!

    See you on the Sunset Strip!




    Tequila, Baby!

    July 24 is National Tequila Day — but then, again, isn’t every day?

    If you’re looking for an oh-so-stylish bottle for your bar that makes a mean Skinny Marg, look no further.

    Viva XXXII Tequila is like that surprise Bumble date — stylish and crisp on the outside, smooth all the way ’round. And best of all, you’ll still have enough cash in your wallet to make a whole bowl of guac or for that cute summer jumpsuit.

    Whether you are rocks/salt all the way or seek adventure in your cocktails, VIVA XXXII Tequila should be on your radar.

    Bonus: The packaging and bottle are so chic that they make a perfect gift you don’t even need to wrap! And with each purchase, VIVA XXXII donates 10% of net proceeds to animal abuse prevention and regularly partners with charities to make a difference.


    Best Tequila Under $45

    Joven: With an agave-forward aroma, this tequila features notes of lemon peel, white pepper, and yerba Buena and has a crisp, clean taste with a medium-to-long finish.

    Price: $40

    Tequila 2

    Best Tequila Under $50

    Reposado: The aromas of Reposado are agave-forward with vanilla. A touch of toasted nuts lends a buttery balance with a medium finish of vanilla and floral notes for a rounded refined, and delicate taste.

    Price: $45.00

    Tequila 3

    Best Tequila Under $150

    Extra Anejo: This premium blend is rested for a minimum of 3 years in American Oak barrels, lending the tequila a dark amber hue and a remarkably rich and balanced profile. The aging process brings out fruit notes with hints of caramel, sandalwood and honey. Enjoy full body with an exceptionally smooth finish.

    Price: $100.00

    Revere is madly crushing on XXXII Tequila. Stay tuned for some swanky cocktail recipes to impress your guests. Chips optional.

    Where to find VIVA XXXII