Friday, August 30, 2013

First Thoughts: 800 Degrees To-Go


Where: 800 Degrees To-Go

Address: 10899 Lindbrook Drive, Westwood (next to the original, on the corner of Westwood/Lindbrook)

Opening: Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hours: 11 am - 2 am

What It's Like: If 800 Degrees had back-to-back-to-back one night stands with Mozza2Go, Gjelina Take Away and Baco Marcat and got pregnant and didn't know whose baby it was because it inhabited  defining characteristics of all three potential fathers? That baby would be 800 Degrees To-Go.

What's On Offer: The new carry away arm of the original 800 Degrees in Westwood, 800 Degrees To-Go offers the entire (fast and affordable, yet solid) pizza menu of their neighboring big brother restaurant, plus an additional menu of calzone-sandwich hybrids (known as the "Panuozzo"), a few antipasti salads and a small market offering proprietary and artisanal baking essentials.

Ordering Instructions: Walk in, call ahead or order online. They also plan to offer delivery soon.

Salsiccia E Friarelli Panuozzo
First Thoughts: I've had the 800 Degrees pizza many times and although occasionally a tad saggy in the middle, they've certainly earned my trust as one of the city's best, quick, price-conscious pie-makers. They offer top-notch ingredients at college prices. Outside of the dreaded Westwood parking situation and lines skirting out the door and down the block, there's very little to complain about. So imagine my elation when hearing their new To-Go spot next door would offer the same pies, minus the long assembly-line wait. Even more so, they would be rolling out sandwiches exclusive to the take away restaurant.

In the vein of Baco Mercat's "baco," chef/owner Anthony Carron introduces us all to the "Panuozzo." The calzone meets pita-like vessel is made by thinly rolling 10" of pizza dough, then placing in the pizza oven plain, letting it pop up like a pita, removing it, cutting in half, placing meat and other toppings and then finally running through a panini press. The result is an unique new sandwich bread - just tasty enough, but also just thin enough to allow the fillings to do the work. 800 Degrees To-Go offers six hot and two cold Panuozos and since I'm a good guy I sampled them all for you. Just for you. Not for me. It was totally an altruistic thing. Although they all were pretty good, both my dining partner and I agreed on our three favorites, which I highly recommend: the Spicy Braised Lamb, the Porchetta and the Salsiccia E Friarelli. The Spicy Braised Lamb, especially in the pita-like bread, reminded me of some of the best lamb pita sandwiches I've had at random hole in the wall Middle Eastern spots around town - but spicier. The toppings of Calabrian chiles, feta cheese and wild arugula add other dimensions that take it past your normal lamb sandwich. The Porchetta also has a nice unexpected spice to it thanks to a pepper relish. And the Salsiccia E Friarelli has a delectable and multi-layer flavor due to the harmonic pairing of Italian sausage, (U.E. favorite) broccoli rabe and fontina cheese.

All three, like the other Panuozzos, offer somewhat eclectic, yet still approachable, toppings.  Also, for future Meatless Mondays, I definitely plan to swing by for the Peperonata, a dulcet combo of goat cheese, red peppers, arugula and a balsamic onion jam.

Peperonata Panuozzo.
In Conclusion: A worthy addition to the 800 Degrees/Umami family, 800 Degrees To-Go's signature calzone-pita hybrid are pretty damn tasty. They, along with quicker pizza pies, will certainly be welcomed in Westwood. And in Santa Monica, come December'ish, when the new restaurant and carry away spot opens off the Promenade.

Prosciutto Panuozzo (fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, sliced tomatoes, prosciutto, arugula)
Porchetta Panuozzo (spiced and roasted pork, mozzarella, pepper relish)
A peek inside. Opens Tuesday.
Spicy Braised Lamb (shredded lamb, feta, Calabrian chiles, wild arugula)
A pesto mushroom pizza pie. 

3 comments: