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Posts Tagged ‘Larry the Lawyer’

Los Angeles – Olio Pizzeria


Olio is a word that has a number of meanings:  mixture, spanish stew, some other things.  But in the case of Bradford Kent’s “Olio“, it just means Delicious, with a capital “D.”

This newly opened, mid-city Los Angeles pie shop, the brainchild of Kent, a vet of all segments of the food industry, from research, to new product development, to selling pies in the L.A. Farmer’s Market.

I was toted over there by Larry the Lawyer, my L.A. eating buddy for nearly 30 years.  We regularly hit the new spots when I am in town, and he’s been to Olio several times in their first month, and wanted to share it with me.

The menu is brief, but chock-a-block full of interesting and high quality toppings.  Kent discussed some of his “secrets” with us in between shuffling food out of the hotter than Death Valley wood-fired blast furnace in which he does his cooking.  “The secret is in my dough, but I’m not telling you the secret.”   Kent uses Caputo, as most respectable pie-makers do these days.  Caputo is the standard pizza flour in Italy, and you can buy it at gourmet shops or online, in one kilo (2.2 pounds) or 55 pound bags.

We wanted to “challenge” Kent, so starting with his basic Margherita, we dared him to use in-house ingredients to make an “all-meat” pie, which he admitted wasn’t one of his favorites, and would not appear on the menu.   He had some prosciutto on hand, as well as his house-made chicken Italian, pulled manually in rough chunks, the way I prefer.  He added a mountain of a unique cheese blend, popped it in the blast furnace for 6-7 minutes, and out it came, perfect Neapolitan style, bubbly, crispy crust, goody cheese, and adorned with a variety of meat toppings just for us.

If you love good pizza, you’ll REALLY love this, but order several to try his various creative combinations.

Olio is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also does smash-up catering events.

We had the intent when we started the evening, to start at Olio and move across the street to check out Pat La Freda’s special meat at Burger Kitchen.

But the pizza was so damned good, I didn’t want to cut in on the experience at all.  Burgers will have to wait for another day.

Olio Pizza Los Angeles

Olio Pizza Los Angeles

Olio Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


Los Angeles, CA – Umami Burger (Snicker!)


Everyone in the world, at least the burger blogosphere world, has been talking about this burger for over a year. It wasn’t referred to in muted tones like the 2nd coming, but quickly became the 3rd, 4th, and 5th coming as Umami spread its wings across L.A. One usually knows what’s coming when a restaurant expands this fast.

I wanted to come away from popping my Umami cherry with OOOOOOOOOOh. Ahhhhhhh. Or at least with “Umami?” YOUR MAMA! Something clever.

Los Angeles Burger Reporter Larry the Lawyer and I went to explore a couple places today, when I told him of this upcoming tour, I suggested he pick one that is ‘massively popular’, and one or two that he liked personally.

Umami was the massively popular pick, with the runner up being The Foundry. The Foundry wasn’t open for lunch today, so we waddled into Umami and sampled their wares.

We were at the original location, which is smallish, but large enough for $10 valet parking. We ordered the signature burger, @ $10, and a side of hand cut fries (triple cooked the menu says), and a side of rings (“Malt Liquor Tempura Onion Rings”) $3. (3.50 for the fries). Larry had a Mexican coke, and me in my nightshirt, and he in his cap, I had plain old h20 tap.

So what IS umami? The fifth “taste” in our lives, following the four horsemen of the taste apocalypse: sweet, sour, salty, bitter. Some call umami “savory” and believe it belongs with the other four. For a further explanation of this (IF you must have one, refer to Umami Burger’s treatise here. For a kinder, gentler explanation, see Wikipedia’s entry).

So the story goes, some guys, somewhere, one day, were sitting around and came up with the whole umami thing and decided to exploit it via the perfect umami vehicle, hamburgers. In checking our vast world-wide network of sources, one of our investigators turned up a transcript of that first session, we reprint it here, without permission of the participants:

(Fade in, two men sitting in a booth at a nondescript diner)

George: You have to taste this burger, Jerry, it’s most excellent. Really SAVORY.
Jerry: Why the heck isn’t savory one of the four “tastes’ anyhow? It really gets a bump rap.
George: No foolin’. Even Steinbrenner would agree with that.
Jerry: I think it needs a name, a definition, something unique.
George: Youmama it does!
Jerry: No, that’s not quite right (furrowed brow, thinking). We’ll think of something, and we should open our own diner featuring this new flavor.
George: That would be difficult, since this flavor isn’t really defined. You know, it’s really NOTHING.
Jerry: Yep, we should have a diner that features NOTHING as a flavor. We’ll make millions!

And the rest is history, as they say.

We were served our umami burger, cut it in half to share, it was topped with some condiments, indistinguishable, and a smidgen of mushroom and slice of tomato, both of which appeared to have come thru a half hour in the microwave. The menu says all beef burgers are cooked “medium rare”, but that’s subjective, isn’t it? Everyone has their own definition of cooking stages, as we were to learn later in the day.

Anyway, a bite….two. And a collective WTF? Really folks, this is the emperor’s new clothes of burgers. It’s about NOTHING. Truly. Get over it.

The onion rings could have been from anywhere, and while the beer flavor comes through, umami also gives new definition to the concept of “tempura,” leaning towards way too thick of a batter.  Don’t even get me started on the fries.  Boys, if you wanna try this kind of thing, go check out “potato souffles” in New Orleans.

Damage? $22 for food and drink, $10 for parking.

Save your money folks, move on…these aren’t the droids you are looking for.  Apologies if there are typos…. I was still laughing as I wrote this.

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Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

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