SALT, New Restaurant in Calabasas

Last week I tried Salt, the new restaurant in the shopping plaza at the corner of Agoura Road and Las Virgenes. I wrote up my experience for cbsla.com:

Calabasas Can’t Hide New Restaurant Salt

“Standouts were the wild mushroom mac and cheese, which elicited groans of pleasure, the chicken and waffles which was on the appetizers list but is big enough to be an entree, and the Kurobuta pork chop served with sauteed apples and carmelized onions.”

Since I wrote the article I’ve been back to the area during the day and saw that there is indeed a big sign out by the street. So, if you’re looking for the place, you will find it. But if you were just driving by, you might think the sign is for a store. That sells salt. Stranger things exist.

Commuter Snob

Calabasas Exit

In the less than one year since we moved from the San Fernando Valley to Agoura Hills, I’ve become increasingly more reluctant to drive east of Calabasas. Previously, a trip “over the hill” was bad enough, now I have to drive an extra 20 to 30 minutes to even attempt such a feat. That’s why, as my friend mentioned this morning, it has become easier to cross those events that occur in the valley or beyond off the list when I prioritize my schedule.

Tomorrow’s ambitious plan looks like this:

Meeting/luncheon tomorrow in Marina del Rey at 10am.
Pick up kid at 2pm and take him to Westlake Promenade for 1 hour.
Pick up other kid at 3pm and head to the Van Nuys Flyaway to pick up visiting aunt. Return home.
Drive down to Hollywood for networking mixer.

Clearly, this is madness, and I will be cranky and hateful by the end of the day. That’s no way to greet my beloved aunt. If each of these events were on separate days, I could handle them all. Alas, I’ll be sending some regrets and rearranging.

[photo by crosscountryroads.com]

Quality Pies Discovered At Fresh Brothers Pizza

Fresh Brothers Da Works

"Da Works" at Fresh Brothers

I’m a pizza snob.  I grew up in the New Haven, CT area, which is known for its very distinct and delicious pizza.  Nowhere in the world have I found pizza like I could get in my hometown.  It was a travesty for a great while, but over time I’ve come to accept it.  When I find a restaurant that serves a pie that comes anywhere near the piping hot, juicy, cheesy, fluffy bubbled crustiness of my youth, I celebrate it but it never measures up completely.

(If you’re just here for the pictures, keep scrolling down for more, but beware:  they’ll make you hungry!)

Lucky for Fresh Brothers, their pizza is nothing like New Haven pizza, so they don’t have to compete.  A family affair, Fresh Brothers is the west coast extension of Miller’s Pizza Company in Chicago.  As such, they serve Chicago-inspired pizzas – thin crust and deep dish.  Their menu includes the usual suspects of a Los Angeles pizza place:  buffalo wings, salads, create-your-own pizza and salad combinations, and pre-designed varieties like the margherita pizza.  But something about the pizza here makes it extra tasty.  They take great care with their dough – it’s not hand tossed, but something in the recipe gives it a light texture, not greasy like other deep dish versions.

Fresh Brothers’ newest location opened in Calabasas three weeks ago to great fanfare.  Last week, I was treated to a private pizza making party for me and the kids, and all the pizza I could fit in my gizzard in one hour.  (I got to take the rest home to share with the husband!)  First we decorated pizza boxes, then the kids assembled their own pizzas using pre-formed deep dish rounds.  They spread the sauce, sprinkled the cheese, and placed the toppings (or not).  While we waited for the pizzas to bake, they decorated aprons with fabric markers – where have fabric markers been all my life, by the way?

Kid with pizza box

Decorated pizza box

Kid makes pizza

Assembling the pizza

No pictures, please!

Decorating aprons

Mama was treated to tastings of several different varieties of pizza.  I’m not sure Debbie Goldberg, one of the store’s owners, knew what she was getting into when she invited this mommy blogger to sample their wares!  She had the kitchen make me a thin crust “Da Works” pizza (minus the onion), and a gluten-free vegetable pizza so I could taste the difference.

Gluten-free pizza

Gluten-free crust vegetable pizza

I tasted the kids’ deep dish pizza, too.  I also tasted the super secret recipe Fresh Kids Special pizza sauce.  Several vegetables are blended in, making this sauce extra healthy.  I couldn’t tell the difference!

Fresh Kids Special

There's veggies in that thar sauce!

After the pizza, the kids were treated to a little cupcake decorating session.  Their afternoon was a tiny version of what kids do at a birthday party at Fresh Brothers.  Party packages start at $195 for 12 kids.

Kid with cupcake

Decorated cupcake

You can’t drop into Fresh Brothers for a slice.  The smallest portion is a 7″ personal pizza.  Prices for a whole pie range from $10.95 for a medium thin crust cheese pizza to $25.95 for an extra-large deep dish Miller Pizza Special, described as “the massive meat pie.”  The takeout menu tries to tempt the hungry customer toward the healthy side with a gorgeous picture of a colorful fresh Farmer’s Market Salad, but let’s be honest.  I’m not going to a pizza place for the salad.

My overall judgment of Fresh Brothers Pizza?  Thumbs up.  The cheese is melty and gooey without being greasy.  Toppings taste fresh and were cooked evenly.  Both varieties of crust were perfect.  And the biggest stamp of approval:  my kids ate it.

Agoura Hills Mom and kids enjoy Fresh Brothers pizza

Agoura Hills Mom and kids enjoy Fresh Brothers pizza

I’m happy to support this family-owned business.  They have five locations here in So Cal, with two of them here, one in Calabasas and one in Westlake Village.  They deliver!

Kids' pizza

Kids' pizza

Fresh Brothers Calabasas

Clean and friendly interior

TV's on the wall

Clever use of technology to occupy restless kids and husbands