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Feb 20, 2007 10:50 AM

Pasadena is weak!

Before I moved here, I heard lots of, "oh there's so many GOOD restaurants in Pasadena" - but I don't see it. Anyone else agree?

I do enjoy a few spots, the Mediterranean Cafe on Lake, King Taco on Arroyo, and Zankou are good for cheap eats. Had Valentine's at the Ritz and it was good (though very expensive). Kansai makes a decent soba, and the bolognese at Louise's isn't half bad (for a chain-type place).

But overall, I'm disappointed, especially in the Old Town area. Tre Venezie was WAY overpriced. The lasagna at Mi Piace would have been good if it wasn't cold. And I don't care what anyone says, Pie & Burger simply doesn't hold a candle to Father's Office, The Counter, or even In-N-Out for that matter! Don't even get me started on Cafe Santorini, Afloat Sushi, or Rock Island Wraps...

Where's the awesome pizza joint? The Italian/Jewish deli for ridiculous sandwiches under $10? The outstanding sushi or seafood restaurant? Am I just not looking hard enough?

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  1. Yeah, you are not looking hard enough. Look a bit beyond Pasadena and you'll find some good places.

    The awesome pizza joint is just around the bend in Eagle Rock, called Casa Bianca. It's famous across LA.

    The Italian Deli that has ridiculous, cheap sandwiches is actually down the street from Casa Bianca, though the name escapes me. Shouldn't be hard to find.

    The outstanding sushi resto is Z's, in Alhambra. It's 10 minutes from Pasadena.

    And the amazing pasta dishes are at Briganti, in South Pasadena. Better than Tre Venezie, IMHO.

    I also think it's odd to compare Pie & Burger with a place like Father's Office. That's a gourmet burger place, whereas Pie & Burger is a simple mom/pop cheap-o diner. If you want foie gras on your burger, that ain't the place to get it.

    Besides, look where you're eating: Louisa's? Everyone knows that place is a joke, as is Mi Piace.

    Look harder.

    Clare K

    19 Replies
    1. re: Clare K

      I REALLY dislike Casa Bianca, to me it tastes like Tostino's frozen pizza. The sad part is that I waited months and months to go there, until there wasn't a gigantic line outside.

      1. re: lesupersteph

        Agree...Casa Bianca is over-rated...however, I prefer NY style pizza...service wasn't very friendly either.

        1. re: lesupersteph

          I agree. Casa Biance is the most overrated pizza place in LA. It is not worth the wait.

          1. re: sugarpie

            I agree. Casa Bianca is bizarrely overrated. Mamma's Brick Oven is good for NY style pizza. Settebello is good for Neapolitan style.

            1. re: ib_me

              And the luggage room, while not falling under any traditional style that I know of is fantastic.

          2. re: lesupersteph

            Try Mamma's Brick Oven
            710 Fair Oaks Avenue
            South Pasadena, CA 91030-2604
            (626) 799-1344

            They're not the best pizza in LA but are pretty good. Fast, friendly service too.

            1. re: lesupersteph

              Wow, all this time, I thought I was the only one... I'm sorry CB lovers, their pizza was just about the worst pizza I'd ever eaten... I did enjoy the sausage/eggplant ingredients, but I disliked the crust... Sorry.

              1. re: darrelll

                Hi Darerelll... Really, CB is the worst pizza you've ever eaten?? Then you've lived a charmed life as a pizza consumer, I'd say. Me, I'm middle aged and I reckon by the time an individual has lived for 40+ years, the've eaten hundreds/thousands of slices of pizza procured from dozens/hundreds of establishments. In 40+ years I've consumed hundreds of really really mediocre-to-bad-slices and/or pies (a place in Cairo/Egypt comes to mind), all of which were well below the consistent standards of CB. While many such as yourself rate CB very lowly indeed, I don't understand how it can be the worst of anything. If CB is the worst you've ever suffered thru, then the angels have surely smiled upon your doorstep...

                1. re: silence9

                  Canned mushrooms, sauce that tastes like canned and soggy, soggy crust. CB's certainly was the worst pizza I've ever had in a restaurant.

              2. re: lesupersteph

                Yeah Casa Bianca is lame. After all the rave reviews I got about the place, I get there and they use canned mushrooms? WTF? The sauce is a little close to Ragu too. The atmosphere is fun and unique though so maybe thats the draw. Try Genovese's, its great for pizza or meatballs.

                1. re: Clare K

                  I happen to really like Brignati, but I have only been there once for lunch, the carpaccio appetizer was nice.

                  1. re: lesupersteph

                    Yes, I totally agree. Briganti is lovely.

                  2. re: Clare K

                    In regards to the sandwiches down the street from Casa Bianca, are you talking about Mario's Italian Deli in Glendale?

                    1. re: Clare K

                      I noticed none of Clare's recs are actually in Pasadena, but in neighboring cities. S. Pas is its own city and ought to stand alone for its great neighborhood spots. Ditto on Alhambra and Eagle Rock. In Pasadena itself, I like Europane for croissants and egg salad. Not much else comes to mind, honestly, and I love Pasadena.

                      1. re: FrancFoo

                        There have been significant changes in the five years since Clare K posted this. Some good places that didn't exist back then:

                        Sushi Ichi
                        Sushi Kimagure Ike
                        Musha Izakaya
                        Bonnie B's Smokin' Barbeque Heaven
                        House of Basturma
                        The Slaw Dogs
                        Dog Haus
                        The Counter
                        The Royce

                        Admittedly, a number of "weak" places have opened during the same period, too.

                        1. re: Peripatetic

                          Let's not forget both Haven's and Congregation.

                          I like Congregation for the FREE PAAAARRRRKING!!@#$!@#$! But Haven's beer list is also fantastic with some decent food to boot.

                          Good times Pasadena. Now can you please FREAKING STOP CHARGING METER ON SUNDAYS? Also, let the 710 finish?

                          1. re: Peripatetic

                            AKA Bistro should be included as well.

                            1. re: foufou

                              The Luggage room (Great)
                              and the chains, Lemonade (decent) and Tender Greens (Good)
                              Abricot (good)
                              Also enjoyed POP chmapagne
                              Malbec (good)

                      2. Thanks for the recs far as the burger thing, I really don't care what a place "calls" itself, I'm just looking for a good burger. In-N-Out was in that comparo, too.

                        I guess it wasn't obvious from my post that I'm not in the same "everyone knows" Pasadena restaurant clique as you...perhaps I should've been able to tell through some mysterious form of osmosis that Louise's and Mi Piace are jokes?

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: trojanhorse

                          Lucky Boy on Arroyo Parkway makes a delicious burger, and if you like breakfast burritos, they make the best of any I've tried in SoCal!

                          1. re: SoCal Foodie

                            SoCal - how do you order your breakfast burrito? I got one with bacon and I took it to go - it was opened up about 5 minutes later and it was really cold (cheese wasn't even melted)... what am I missing (perhaps bad time of day?)

                            1. re: The Oracle

                              The Oracle: I just order mine with bacon and usually take it to go. I haven't experienced a cold burrito yet and have been going here for years. Give it another try - it must have been an off day!

                            2. re: SoCal Foodie

                              I order one of Luck Boys special, famous breakfast burritos a while ago and was super disappointed. It was super dry, dry cheap sausage, dry eggs, dry hash browns... just bad.

                              1. re: SoCal Foodie

                                I love the Lucky Boy breakfast burritos. I get it with ham, as it's too much bacon fo me. I've probably ordered 50 of them over the years, all but 2 to go, and none of them cold by the time I got home to Hollywood.

                                1. re: SoCal Foodie

                                  Lucky Boy has never disappointed me. Their salsa is amazing!

                              2. No osmosis necessary :) Louise's is a well-know, bad chain resto, and Mi Piace is regularly ripped here on Chowhound. Sorry to assume you might have read about it here.

                                Do a search for Pasadena and you will find lots of posts on the places to go.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Clare K

                                  Dude, try Bistro 45 and Celestino's and Marston's and the Raymond House and the culinary school sit down (green st) and lunch spot and Saladang and Fredo's cheesteaks and Top's has the best bacon cheesburger in the damn world. That's all in Pasadena proper. Oh yeah and we live adjacent to the best chinese food this side of the pacific. I mean you really can't throw a rock without hitting some place that's outstanding.

                                  1. re: illmatic85

                                    I'm glad to see someone else refer to The Raymond Restaurant as the "Raymond House." I've never been able to call it anything else. It is my mother's favourite restaurant, out of all the places she's eaten around the world. I like it too.

                                2. Try some of these places in Pasadena proper...
                                  some of the best chinese you'll ever have is at Yujean Kang's on Raymond...
                                  right next door is Xiomara... gourmet, unbelieveably good (but pricey) cuban fare... Tarantino's Pizza on Green St. is good if not nearly as good as Casa Bianca...
                                  Gayle's on Fair Oak's for everyday fresh Italian....
                                  Sushi Roku in Miller Alley is good...
                                  Porto Alegre for Brazilian BBQ (Churruscaria)...
                                  if you want a sandwich, instead of italian or jewish try Lovebirds on Colorado just east of Lake. Very Fresh, very good and unique.
                                  Akbar has the best Indian food around, although, people have differing opinions...
                                  South Pasadena and Eagle Rock have Bistro de la Gare and Cafe Boujolais respectively for French fare...
                                  for Salads and anything that goes with them... Green Street Restaurant... just e. of Lake.
                                  Those just came off of the top of my head... there are many good options in Pasadena, although there are many mediocre options as well.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: eatnitall

                                    I second Lovebird's and Cafe Boujolais.

                                  2. Here's a place to try pizza, it's in San Marino which shouldn't be too far from Pasadena.

                                    Tony's Pizza (corner of Del Mar Ave. & Huntington Drive)
                                    2555 Huntington Dr
                                    San Marino

                                    Their pizza reminds me of east coast pizza.

                                    The best french fries I have ever had was at the Cordon Bleu Culinary School on Green St.--call in the order, because the wait can be long and parking sometimes difficult during the day.