Ten days ago, I was enjoying a brief vacation in Long Beach, California. My husband and I like the area very much and we have extended family nearby, so each year, we try to make the time for a visit. Maybe, eventually, we will be able to spend summer weeks or a month there, but, for now, we just savor our short airplane "hops" from Tucson to LB. This time, we nixed the idea of driving back and forth to the Getty Museums and, instead, kept our mileage range short but our curiousity expanded as we tried out two new places for lunch.
Our first stop after settling into our hotel was at Michael's Pizzeria, recently opened adjacent to the finer dining restaurant (of the same name, Michael's) next door. Located in the district known as Naples, with canals, gondolas and vias named after the original city in Italy, the two lower photos show the $8.00 lunch specials--Margarita Piccola and Rotolino Carcifi. The second entree was new to us is described as "roasted artichoke wrap with melted mozarella and pesto". I watched the chef roll the dough, layer the soft, white cheese balls over the pesto and artichokes, pinch the dough together and wrap it into a small, wreath-like shape, before placing it on the paddle and into the oven. Both entrees were delicious. We let the server know that I wrote a blog and while we only order one scoop of hazelnut gelato (from the producer, Ciao Bella), she brought us a "sample". This included their homemade pistachio and two homemade sorbets: strawberry and white grape. While the mass-produced hazelnut was very good, the homemade gelato was excellent: smooth and cream like I recall from my trips to Rome and Florence. The strawberry gelato had a fresh, tart tang to it and the white grape was surprisingly crisp. Can you tell that we love our dolci as well as our pizza? So, of course, it is the first photo you see. Visit Michael's Pizzeria at 5616 E. 2nd Street in Long Beach. http://www.michaelspizzeria.com/
Our second day we went downtown to find the visitor's center (tucked into a stall by the transit stop) and on our way, saw a sign with my name on it. Of course, we had to go into the Cafe and have two iced coffees (served with iced coffee cubes which made the sweet coffee taste linger) and talked with the manager about the connection of my name to the coffee. He gave us several complimentary Fonte paper coffee cups which I packed up and shared with family members to their surprise. We went back to the Cafe, named simply for the address Cafe 301, at 301 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach and split a generous chicken and pesto panini ($6.75), served with artichokes and sun dried tomatoes and fresh greens. This is another locally owned foodie jewel I would recommend when you are in downtown LB. And the coffee has its own story at http://fontecoffee.com/ .