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Jan 17, 2009 09:31 PM

Lil' Parlor Pizzeria

I had my first dinner at the Lil' Parlor Pizzeria in South Pas tonight. It hasn't gotten much attention on the board, so I thought it deserved its own thread. I have to preface this by saying that Michael Ruiz is one of my favorite chefs. I ate at Bistro Verdu often, and I almost cried when I learned that Ingredients was closing since I was there weekly. I think that the menu at Lil' Parlor incorporates my favorite Ruiz styles with something new - the pizza.
My SO and I started off with two appetizers - the soup and the pork rillette. The soup had black-eyed peas, and that's about all I know about it because my SO gobbled it up before I got more than a small bite! The pork rillette was amazing. It was served with baked apples with (smoked?) onions. The dish just melted in my mouth. I spent the past 9 months in Paris, so I'm picky about my rillettes! We split a wood-oven pizza with peppers and a house fennel sausage. The crust was really thin and crispy, and the toppings melded together well - a little spicy, but not enough to detract from the flavor of the sausage and peppers. For dessert, we split a tiramisu. My SO proclaimed it the best tiramisu he's ever had (which I'm trying not to be offended about, since he's eaten my tiramisu!) It was silky smooth and topped with cocoa nibs, which gave it a nice texture.
I had never ventured inside 750ml, so I don't know what changes have been made to the interior. It's a very open space, with a full view of the kitchen and wood-burning pizza oven area, and lots of windows. I also really liked the music, and appreciated the volume (not too loud).
The wine list is small, but interesting. We decided to order by the glass to try a few different kinds. I really enjoyed the Pinot Nero with my pizza, as well as another red recommended by the server since they were out of the Barbera d'Asti that I ordered. I didn't ask about their corkage policy.
Overall, it was an excellent dinner, and I look forward to many more meals here!

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  1. So, are they calling the place "Little Parlor" as the awnings say, or "Lil' Parlor"?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jack Flash

      I wrote "Lil' Parlor" because that's what I've seen online, but you're right - the awnings and menus all said "Little"

      1. re: patz

        That's what I was wondering. Not that it matters, unless you're calling 411 I suppose. I was just a bit confused. I'd seen Lil' in the press, and was then surprised when I rode past on the train the other day.

    2. Thanks for the review. Even though I can walk there, somehow I haven't gotten around to trying it yet. How much did your dinner run?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chowpatty

        it was around 80 pre-tip for 4 glasses of wine, 2 apps, pizza, and dessert

      2. Thanks for this review I can't wait to try. So glad to have a new ruiz place. I also missed Verdu and ingredients.

        1. I went back for dinner last night and it was even better than the first visit - my SO and I split 2 appetizers, a pizza, and dessert. We chose two of the specials for our appetizers - mac & cheese with duck confit, and braised pork with almond smoke. The braised pork was the highlight of the meal. I remembered Chef Ruiz's braised pork from ingredients, so I knew I had to try it, and it was better than I remembered - extremely tender, and the smoke added a very subtle flavor. We then tried the pizza special of the night, red pepper and burrata with a spicy red pepper sauce, and finished the evening with a chocolate pot de creme. I can't express enough how much I've enjoyed my meals here, and I really hope to hear about your experiences soon!

          2 Replies
          1. re: patz

            I and three friends had dinner at Little Parlor last night. I so wanted to love this place. The room is delightful, with huge windows and views of the trains and passersby. We ordered a charcuterie plate which came with a good amount of olives and meats. Only two pieces of crisp pizza crust came with it as "bread". We had to ask for more. Twice--as our first request went unanswered. We waited an hour for our two pizzas. Maybe it's a question of taste, and the thin-crust pizzas are supposed to be dry, but I wasn't impressed. There's a very limited menu, so I don't understand why everything isn't top-notch.

            1. re: patz

              We are South Pasadena locals and last night was our second dinner at The Little Parlor. I agree with what has been said, definitely a keeper- whether you are local or train-hopping. We are running into people too from other local cities who are burned out on Pasadena spots and are looking for something different.

              Basically, this is a "better" pizza place, which is in vogue right now. It is perhaps twice the cost of a "traditional" pizza place if you take full advantage of the menu. Of course you can order thin if you want, the pizza is oddly the best deal on the menu. The question is, does it make the grade of being "better", and I would say that it does.

              The place is small, but offers the full charm and character of the Mission District. The service has been good both times we went, and the patrons very friendly. The wine list, as was pointed out, is small but interesting. I am a big fan of the antipasti- the salumi plate is reason enough to go! All are served on a rustic chopping board, they vary from traditional to very creative.

              The pizza is the heart of the matter, though, and it is unique. They have a modern wood-fired oven. The pizzas are large, about 12-14 inches and obviously hand-pulled. The crust is amazingly thin in the center, perhaps 1/16 inch and thicker at the edge, perhaps 3/4 inch. The dough is fantastically light, and I mean its all the way out to Wonder bread territory. All of the pizzas that we have had have been perfectly cooked, uniform brown on the bottom with nice color and a few burnt bits up top. The crust is so thin, that by the time it cools to edible, it is no longer crisp. All the rules for eating NY pizza apply- fold it, roll it, make a sandwhich! The sauce (for the pizzas that have it) is also a divergence- it is only about the tomato. No overwhelming garlic or herbs here, and that is where they really leave "traditional" pizza behind. We have had the Margharita, the sausage and the arugula and all have been good. My fave is the Margharita. The arugula is a salad-style pizza, which I haver never had before. Interesting, but I am not sure that I would have it again. By the way, I love a pizza with mozzarella, proscuitto, fresh tomato with chiffonaded arugula sprinked on fresh out of the oven. Unfortunately, this is so close, but not actually that.

              So, if you are searching the southland for a "better" pizza place, this is a good

            2. My nephew and I finally had an early dinner yesterday at Little Parlor, after passing by innumerable times on our way to Heirloom next door. Our verdict: the pizza is OK, but the salads are slammin'. Nephew had his favorite Caesar, which was huge and beautiful and dotted with pizza bread "croutons;" I had the tricolore, which was a heap of gorgeous rocket, radicchio and endive perfectly dressed with a Gorgonzola vinaigrette. I think the menu mentioned fruit (pears?) but there was none on the plate - no matter, it was delicious.

              The Old School pizza would have been far better if it had more than four pieces of pepperoni on it, but we did appreciate the generous little plate of shaved Parmaggiano, oregano buds and flaked chili which came with it. The service was good, our iced tea was delicious - I think we'll be back, if only for those terrific salads and to try the cauliflower/anchovy pizza, something my dining partner nixed last night. ;)

              1 Reply
              1. re: soyarra

                I have to agree about the pizza - I was there recently, and the place isn't the same since Chef Ruiz left - my pizza was burnt in several places, and the food was "OK", but was not of the same caliber as it was a few months ago