The Lab Gastropub at USC [DTLA]

The Lab is a gastropub located across the street from USC. In the spirit of gastropubs and wine bars, like Bar FoodWestside Tavern, and Bacaro, The Lab features nice selection of libations and food.
With dozens beers on draft & bottled to go with reds & whites , The Lab has a drink for almost everyone. The school science themed restaurant has a large outdoor patio with a big fire pit. There’s also a private section for parties, which also spills outdoors to comfy seating. Inside the main dining room, there a couple of large communal tables. I’ve always liked communal tables, since we can people watch and see what others are munching on. With few chalk blackboards around the room, the places maintains the school theme. Even the restrooms and menus, which are presented on clipboards, feature a science feel.
I decided today to have the Beer Can Chicken Sandwich with truffle mac and cheese, while Miss C had the The Lab burger with sweet potato fries. Though these burgers and sandwiches aren’t cheap for 10 and 12 USD, respectively, they aren’t presented and made with inferiors ingredients. With angus beef and apple bacon, they aren’t your typical student dorm cafeteria food. I thought the burger was good and the mac and cheese passable, I didn’t think the prices were warranted. I wish the mac and cheese had more burnt cheese & crust from the panko and flavor (even with the somewhat bland gruyere). I did enjoy the bread on the burger, which held well with a messy avocado. The sweet potato fries were fine, but not as good as ones at Golden State.
As an undergrad at USC, years ago, and a current graduate student, I feel I am quite experienced with the different dining options around the USC area. Since the Lab retains a usc.eduurl, I assume that USC is the owner. They cater towards the students, faculty, and guests of USC. With these high prices, they won’t see many frat parties, like the 501. But I can see deep pocketed alumni stopping by before football games. I think USC has the right idea with the Lab, but I only wish, selfishly, that the prices were a bit lower.
What to Order: The Lab burger and Beer Can Chickien
What not to Order: Mac and Cheese
2 Pigs
Price Range 2 $/¥/NT
The Lab – 3500 S Figueroa Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90007 (213) 743-1843

Bollini’s [Montery Park] – closed

Traditional pizzas nowadays are tough to find. Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s dominate public perception of what a pizza is suppose to be like. Nuevo pies, such as California Pizza Kitchen, Wolfgang Puck’s, and to some extent Pizzeria Mozza are establishing standards for new generations. Chicago style, though my favorite, is more like a casserole, a quiche, or even like a meat pie. As much as I hate to give New Yorker’s credit, the thin crust pizza is proper one.
Bollini’s pizza is one of tradition. The thin hand rolled crust with fresh toppings, what makes the drive worth it.
Bollini’s Pizzeria Napolitana
2315 South Garfield Avenue
Monterey Park, CA 91754-7219
(323) 722-7600

Hank Moody’s Gjelina [Venice]

A Venice local favorite, this place is always crowded. Unfortunately for locals, outsiders – non-Venetians, have discover this fabulous joint.
Hank Moody, of Californication – a show on HBO, frequently hangs out at Gjelina. This super cool dark wood themed restaurant could be classified as a wine bar that also serves food. They feature wines from the US, France, Italy, as well as South America and others. Unfortunately, since I am not a big wine drinker, I didn’t sample their wines. I did try a beer, the Bear Republic Tribute Brown for $12. It was pretty good.
We also had the Black Olive, Fresno Chile, Anchovy, Burrata & Oregano Pizza for $15, the Pan Roasted Niman Ranch Pork Chop with Grilled Rapini, Mustard & Peppercorn for $25, and the Crispy Niman Ranch Pork Belly with Soft Polenta, Bitter Greens & Apple Cider for $11. I felt the pizza was excellent – I like anchovies and the crust. The Pork Belly was decent, but not exceptional.
I would visit again. I think Gjelina is good for small groups of 4, maybe 6. Also nice for a date, as well.
What to Order: The Pizzas – nice crust.
What not to Order: Pork Belly, but I might try it again.
3 Pigs
1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291-3740, United States
(310) 450-1429