Monday, January 23, 2017

The Price of LA's Best Lunch Deal Just Increased 50%. And I'm Conflicted About It.

Like many love their kids or dolls or train sets, I love a good lunch deal. A great lunch deal? Holy fucking shit, bro. That's why I have covered Mozza's Lunch/Bar Deal so adamantly over the years. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was the first to mention it at all.

Personally, it served as the beacon of lunch deals: a busy, acclaimed restaurant that didn't necessitate the additional business, offering their transcendent fare at a pauper's fee. A mere twenty buckaroos garnered a patron LA's top pizza, a glass of high quality Italian vino and then LA's top dessert (#ButterscotchBudino4Lyfe). It made Mozza, a restaurant inaccessible to many due to high (yet comparable) pricing and lack of reservation availability, attainable to UCLA Students, Production Assistants, Actor/Waiters, and Humble Food Bloggers alike.

So, imagine my chagrin when I happened to take a peep at the Mozza website last week...

I honestly thought I misread it, so I contacted Mozza PR to ensure I wasn't missing anything. They affirmed to me I had, in fact, understood correctly. The deal that was for the past six years $20 was now... $30. Yes, there are now few restrictions on which pizza you can order like before, but otherwise it's the exact same deal... at a 50 percent price increase. And it stings.

Mozza, to their credit, defended the price gouge, stating, "For a long time, the price of the bar special was untouched even as the cost of the product has steadily risen." As a food blogger who has spent a lot of time the past few years with restaurant operators discussing the realities of ownership, I can understand this. Hell, if you believe this very well-researched Thrillist article, it's about to be impossible to succeed. When I think about it, every time I've told an unknowing someone of the twenty dollar deal, almost every time they respond: "No way. There's no way it's THAT cheap."

It appears, from Mozza's response, they agreed. There is, in fact, no way it is that cheap. What started as an off-menu whisper evolved into a known entity to on the actual menu. The secret was out and people were taking advantage of it. It appears it came time to curb the discount.

Glancing at the ala carte menu, it is still a good deal. Albeit, no longer monumental. My normal Mozza order:

  • Bianca Pizza ($19)
  • Glass Of Wine ($15)
  • Butterscotch Budino ($11)
  • Total ($45)

Now, I am not here to make excuses for the restaurant. A lot of the perceived "value" of the deal -- even at $30 -- comes via rising Mozza menu prices. When the special first came to fruition all these items were multiple dollars cheaper. But, a $15 savings isn't terrible. I also don't want to overlook the fact that very few, if any, restaurants of Mozza quality offer any kind of special like this. Especially one in the middle of the day that enables customers to explore a vast array of the menu.

That said, and the point of all the mumbling: I implore Mozza to meet in the middle and make the Bar Special $25. While $30 most certainly seems justifiable from a food cost perspective, I think Mozza is overlooking the people who enjoy this deal. I don't spend $30 on lunch. UCLA students don't spend $30 on lunch. Struggling actors don't. Even on special occasions.

Thirty dollar lunches for me personally are solely when they're on a producer/studio's dime. And when they're on a studio/producer's dime we are not sitting at the bar. Heck, I rarely if ever even do $30 lunches with my parents. If the point of the price increase was to faze out the popularity of the Bar Deal, you will most certainly achieve your goal. But, if you hope to continue to receive the massive lunch walk-in business Monday through Thursday, it would very much behoove you to keep it in the twenties. Or, at the very least, offer an alternative version, sans the wine, at a very reasonable pricepoint.

The Bar Deal made Mozza, one of LA's finest culinary institutions, the people's culinary institution. It would suck if that weren't the case anymore. 

(Note: You CAN get a deal at Mozza for $20 through Friday via Restaurant Week. Take Advantage.
Other Note: Sorry for so many words on a friggin bar deal.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

West Adams Is Getting A Massive Hipster Beer Bar.

If you missed the good gospel, I moved to West Adams a few months back. While I adore my new community, it is lacking in the food and beverage department. There have been rumblings here and there, including a sandwich shop on my very corner, but nothing concrete. 

Until now. Farley Elliott, bless his heart, breaks news today one of the city's finest bartrepeneurs (that is not a word; I totally made it up and it isn't great, but whatevs...) plans to open a MASSIVE craft beer hall in West Adams. 

A mere one and a half blocks from my domicile. 

I literally did a Tiger Woods In His HeyDay Fist Pump upon reading the news. It's HUGE.

I got so excited I immediately personally checked out the location in hopes it would crack its doors ajar very very soon, but it appears to still have the For Lease sign with very little indication of work done inside to convert what appears to be a former warehouse of sorts into my future watering hole. So, for now, the WAIT BEGINS. And it's excruciating. Yet, ever so thrilling.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Where To Eat In Pittsburgh. January 2017 Edition.

Every holiday season I trek eastward to Pittsburgh to visit the in-laws. Usually for a week or so. However, due to a work trip scheduling snafu, this year I found myself in the belly of the beast for almost two whole weeks. Being the understanding wife figure that she is, my s.o. knows the only true way to keep me complacent for this period of time: LET ME EAT OUT EVERY DAY EVERY MEAL. Pittsburgh, the nouveau hip food city that it suddenly is, delivered. 

With this year's holiday trip in mind, here are my current Pittsburgh food recs...

(Modern Italian, housemade everything "deli" in the Strip.)
Order: Meatball Sub (atop), this -->

(Cauliflower Gratin)

(One of the city's first cool restaurants is still really cool - and delicious. Downtown.)
Order: Smoked Wings, seasonal cocktail.

(Not real tacos persay. Rather, BBQ stuffed in freshly-made flour tortillas, but still damn tasty. Lawrenceville.)
Order: The Gringo, Mac & Cheese.

(Why Western PA restaurants put lettuce in breakfast sandwiches I shall never know, but Bluebird's pretzel rolls can pretty much hold anything and still taste good. Downtown.)
Order: Local Fried Eggs on Pretzel.

(Open most nights until midnight, the funky bar/restaurant serves reinvented global street classics. Southside.)
Order: Pressed Filet Sammich, Jerk Chicken With Rice And Peas.

(Pittsburgh's most innovative cake bakery does no wrong. Lawrenceville.)
Order: A slice of whatever looks good in the case that day, like this -->

(Chocolate Cookie Cake)

(Inside it's Manhattan-level raucous and the meal is Manhattan-level good. Downtown.)
Order: Strip Steak, Brussels.

(Cozy Southside shop with extensive, surpisingly inventive chip shop menu.
Order: Fish & Chips, Any Boxy Tot Box.

(Really good coffee, chill AF vibe and plug-ins galore. Upper Lawrenceville.)
Order: Latte, baked goods (via beloved local Threefifty Bakery).

(Local self-construct burger chain offers higher quality ingredients than most make-your-owns. Multiple locations.)
Order: Make your own burger, seasonal local draft beer.

(Quite possibly the local hipster bar that started it all still one of its finest. Lawrenceville.)
Order: Chips and guacamole and margaritas.

(Line may sneak around corner out in the frigid cold, but this counter-service Argentinean meat specialist is quickly warming into a Steel City institution. The Strip.)
Order: Carne Sandwich, Provoletta.