The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2017

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august 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  101 L os Angeles is not known for its pizza, but that could change with the opening of the charming and much-lauded Pizzana in the ritzy neigh- borhood of Brentwood. The concept began in the backyard of actor Chris O'Donnell's house, where he hosted pizza parties courtesy of Italian-born chef Daniele Uditi. Sprinkles Cupcakes founders Candace and Charles Nelson were regular attendees, and they formed an unlikely partnership with Uditi. It took some time, but their dream became reality when Pizzana opened its doors a few months ago. Crisp neo-Neapolitan pizzas—from the classic Margherita to more com- plex creations like uovo with fior di latte, cherry tomato, prosciutto crudo, bacon jam and arugula—are served in a casual setting. Accompanying those dishes is a small wine list that, rather than being treated as an afterthought, is carefully curated by wine advisor Amanda Crawford. "We tasted for six months to get our current selection," Crawford explains. "I like to call the overall theme 'Italian filtered through a California lens.' It's a creative showcase of small-production wines that exude energy, complexity and are all organic—although some of them aren't certified as such." All wines are offered by-the-glass and bottle. Bottles are priced at $50 or less, though that will be changing; Crawford expects to cap prices at around $110. "This is Brentwood, after all!" she laughs. But despite the tony neighborhood, Crawford is firm in her belief that the wine list should be accessible to everyone. "A college student who wants to spend $10 on a glass of wine should have as many fun things to try on the menu as the billionaire down the street." Her ethos also applies to varietals. "We carry less-common vari- etals, but we also have Chardonnays and Pinots for those that want them. Working in the wine business, it's easy to have blinders on and only want to feature new and different varietals. But it's important not to alienate your guests; the wine list should be anchored by some familiar things." The list will change with the sea- sons, with each selection overseen by Crawford. "I want the staff to feel invested in the wine list, and know it backward and forward, so we don't want to change it too often," she cautions. "Since we work with small producers, it's important to buy smartly. We'll take all of something if it's good!" In order to find these gems, Crawford typically works with small distributors or sources wines through auctions. In the end, it comes down to wines with an acidity and complexity that will pair with Pizzana's menu. "Pizza lends itself easily to wine pairing; it's not precious," Crawford says. "Try something new! Make it fun!" PIZZA AND WINE PAIR PERFECTLY AT NEW LOS ANGELES HOTSPOT PIZZANA by Jesse Hom-Dawson photos by Cal Bingham Amanda Crawford is the wine advi- sor for the recently opened Pizzana in the Brentwood neighbor- hood of Los Angeles.

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