THINGS I ATE: Soft Pizza At Settebello

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Once again, I’m on a health kick: low carb, high protein, reduced fat. So naturally I wound up at a pizza place. To be fair, I was invited for a media-comped lunch at Settebello, the regional pizza chain that boasts pies that are VPN certified. What’s VPN, you ask? Well, it has nothing to do with Virtual Private Networks. VPN, when it comes to pizza, stands for Vera Pizza Napoletana — which basically means that the ingredients, the ovens, and the processes are up to Naples’ approval. It’s like being kosher for pizza.

Well, who am I to deny pizza, let alone CERTIFIED pizza? So off I trekked to Settebello on Cinco De Mayo (I enjoy playing against type on international holidays). Pictures of the pizza party after the jump…

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THINGS I ATE: Pizza, Cannoli, and Other Decadent Things at DeSano Pizza Bakery

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With the Super Bowl marking the end of football season two weeks ago, I made a pledge to eat healthy for a month and forgo all those carby, fatty meals that had littered my January and February. Dare I say it — I even declared that I would try paleo. Yes, paleo: that utterly annoying eat-like-a-caveman diet that everyone seems to do and love/hate. This was going to be the newer, Stone Age-ier Ben, and with any luck, I might even develop the early tracings of an ab or two.

Naturally, none of this happened.

That’s probably a good thing because otherwise I would have had to have declined the invitation for a media-comped lunch at the newly opened DeSano Pizza Bakery in East Hollywood. With pizza, calzones, gelato, and cannoli on the menu, I can assure you that this burgeoning eatery is not the destination for dieters hoping to embrace their inner Australopithecus. (And whoa, “Australopithecus” wasn’t flagged by spell check. But cannoli was. I don’t understand this world).

After the jump, check out pics of lunch at DeSano Pizza Bakery.

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BANTER WITH BEN AND LISA #68: Emmys Recap, Jon Gosselin, Nate Burleson, and Portland Adventures

This week on “Banter with Ben and Lisa,” Ben Mandelker (bsideblog.com) and Lisa Timmons (twitter.com/timmonslisa) give pop culture a big bear hug. First, Ben discusses his recent trip to Portland and shares passages from an 1888 etiquette book he found at Powell’s Bookstore. Then the two talk about Nate Burleson of the Detroit Lions and his pizza-related injury. After that, it’s a mix of the Emmys, Jon Gosselin, and lessons about parquet floors. Come listen!

Also, remember to sign up with godaddy.com and use the promo code “banter” at checkout to get a .com for only $1.99! This is a cray cray deal, and you should really use it people. Two bucks for a dotcom? Amazing. Just click here!

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THINGS I ATE: Dinner at Stella Barra in Hollywood

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After a recent viewing of Star Trek: Into Darkness, my friend jash and I felt the need to wildly decompress from two hours of explosions, Spock bangs, and futuristic 9/11 imagery. And so we too stepped into darkness by taking in dinner at the dimly lit Stella Barra on Sunset Boulevard. Attached to the ArcLight and cousin to Stella Rosa in Santa Monica, the new restaurant has a reputation for awesome pizza and killer cookies. Naturally, this was right up my (Kirstie) alley. That was a bonus Star Trek reference, in case you were wondering.

jash and I kept the order simple. He ordered a glass of wine and a spinach and kale salad with pecorino ramona, Medjool dates, shaved radishes, and mustard vinaigrette. I too wanted to be healthy, but resistance was futile. I wound up requesting a fennel bianco pizza, which featured fennel, burrata, rosemary, torn basil, and olive oil. The friendly waiter then informed us that the policy of the restaurant is that when something is ready, it’s ready, and the food will arrive as such. It seemed like a strange approach, but I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal — that is, until jash’s salad arrived five minutes later (sans wine), and we had to wait an additional fifteen or twenty for my pizza. Yes, we were warned of the policy, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

As for that salad, it was very tasty, but teeny tiny. We’re talking side-salad size. At $10, it veers into “overpriced” territory. More appropriately priced was my pizza ($15), which was strong flavor-wise, but was so soggy and oily in the middle that the slices were near impossible to hold. Still, structural issues aside, I enjoyed the burrata and fennel, and found I was able to crisp up the slices a bit more the next day when I flung the leftovers in a skillet and heated them up for five minutes.

Eventually, the waiter discovered that he had neglected to bring jash’s wine, and to apologize, he gave us a free chocolate chip Rice Krispie treat cookie that may as well have descended directly from heaven. This cookie was far and away the best part of dinner, and I would truly consider going back to Stella Barra for the cookie alone.

ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Testing Out The Pizza Stone

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Recently, I acquired a complimentary pizza stone from CSN Stores with the caveat that I must review it — a task that I was more than happy to undertake. The product in question: Fox Run Craftsmen 3-Piece Round Pizza Stone Set. That’s right: this wasn’t just a stone. It was a set. Color me excited.

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