A meal in L.A.

As noted in Sunday’s column, and here on this blog Thursday, I attended Thursday’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority meeting in downtown L.A. Of course I traveled by Metrolink, the MTA HQ being right there at Union Station.

The Gold Line-related portion of the meeting ended right after 2 p.m. Finally, lunch. I could’ve, and perhaps should’ve, eaten at the MTA cafeteria, but I decided to do something else that’s hard to do on a Saturday, and that’s try Pitfire Pizza.

It’s at 2nd and Main, immediately south of the new LAPD HQ, southwest of the Caltrans HQ and near the LA Times and City Hall. Jonathan Gold likes it. There are locations in North Hollywood and Westwood too. I keep meaning to try it. But the downtown Pitfire doesn’t open until 3 p.m. on weekends, thwarting any lunch plans on my usual outings.

So, Pitfire it was. My meal lived up to expectations. The day’s special pizza, New Haven clam ($10.25), was a white pizza (no tomato sauce) with roasted garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, a cheese I’ve forgotten (sorry), plus clams, obviously. At four slices, it was just the right size for one person, and very tasty.

Instead of returning directly to Union Station, I stopped at Philippe’s for an iced tea and a cup of tapioca pudding. (I believe commenter Shirley Wofford has praised the tapioca.) Well, it was nothing to get excited about, but it was a change from pie, and a nice way to kill some time before the train home.

We won’t be getting the Gold Line for untold years, but at least we have Metrolink.

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  • shirley wofford

    Hi David,

    I get involved in my own private rituals when it comes to eating. In the early ’90s it was French toast at the 9th floor cafeteria at the County Building when we were going to Dodger day games. (One could actually take a bus from there right into Dodger stadium, which is another subject, but in some ways things have gone backward instead of forward.) Then it was made-to order French toast at the DWP cafeteria.

    You are right — the tapioca pudding at Philippe is not earth-shattering but, right now, it is part of my Phillippe ritual. I think it goes back to my childhood on a Wyo. farm, and my mom made tapioca pudding to die for. The “things” in it were huge, like large pearls, and she took a good day to make it. I never understood what those things in tapioca pudding were until it was explained to me by the owner at Cafe Montclair recently. I had thought it was a grain, and I learned it is from a root called Cassava (sp?).

    The beef stew at Phillippe is great too. It is in a very light broth with large chunks of beef and vegetables. That with the cole slaw and tapioca pudding completes my current ritual at Philippe. You also get the most bang for the buck there, and eating around large tables in group style with sawdust on the floor is casual and fun. (They also have wonderful baked apples this time of year. They were on my ritual until the tapioca.)

    I love clams and have never had clam pizza, so I am looking forward to checking out your pizza spot in LA in the future. For me, none of this is possible without Metrolink.

    [For me, it's possible without Metrolink, but not as much fun. Food rituals are, as you say, often private affairs based on childhood associations, etc. I may have to try the baked apples, though. FYI, Pitfire's clam pizza was a daily special and not a regular menu item -- although it ought to be! -- DA]

  • Bob House

    The food is one thing, but as someone who grew up in the Inland Empire in the 50s and 60s and never had the need or opportunity to deal with mass transit, I am always awed by the ease with which you, Ms. Wofford and other commenters flit about the landscape in public conveyances.

    Years ago I tried to figure out how to go from the South Bay to the San Fernando Valley on a bus, but had to give up and ask a friend for a ride. If I ever return to the Southland (keep your fingers crossed for me), I hope you’ll be offering remedial classes, because these adventures always sound so attractive.

    [If it's any consolation, figuring out bus routes and schedules intimidates me and I don't even try it (but should, I know). Rail seems a lot easier to grasp. But if my modest level of expertise impresses anyone, I'll accept the accolades. Oh, and on behalf of the Southland, we'd be glad to welcome you back from Arizona, Bob. -- DA]

  • http://www.goddessofpomona.com Goddess of Pomona

    Next time at Philippe’s try the custard pudding, it just might knock your socks off. I’m a double dipped lamb sandwich and a lemonade person myself. I do love that custard tho.

    Have you tried the sandwich place in the jewelry district alley in downtown L.A.? Is it Armenian, I am forgetting now.

    [No, I haven't. That alley entices -- St. Vincent's Court, off 7th St. -- but I've never bought anything there. Regarding Philippe's, I dote on the lamb and tried it double-dipped on my last visit, and liked it. Also tried the bleu cheese, which I thought was overrated. -- DA]

  • Desdave

    Philippes has great sandwiches, but a lot of their other stuff always seems ordinary to me when I have tried it over the years. The pie can be hit or miss for me, personally. They do have surprisingly good wines by the glass though… $70 a bottle type stuff. I had a glass of Plumpjack Cab there last time with my 2 beef dips w/swiss, double dipped and 2 lemonades… and just the smallest smudge of that fiery mustard, mmmmmm…. wine and beef dips, must. go. to. Philippe.

    [I wish they had a pie and dessert list so I knew what they had. I've never been disappointed by the apple or banana cream pies but that's as far as I've gone. Their apple is better than Clifton's, which has too much nutmeg. -- DA]

  • http://www.goddessofpomona.com Goddess of Pomona

    This is the place, it’s inside St. Vincent’s Alley and is Armenian:

    Garo’s Deli
    639 S Broadway
    Los Angeles, CA 90014
    (213) 622-1161

    [OK, I'll try to remember to check 'em out sometime. Thanks, Goddess -- DA]