Culver City, Calif., is the home of the newest location of one of Los Angeles' indie chains, Pitfire Artisan Pizza. The concept is poised to become an indispensable part of the culinary landscape in the city -- especially with the location's new "utilitarian-chic" design that incorporates natural elements, including the food diners will eat.
As guests enter the new space, they will find a 30-seat patio equipped with an olive grove and edible garden, featuring tomatoes and herbs, which will be curated by "master gardener" Maggie Lobl.
"We had this tremendous opportunity," founder Paul Hibler said of the new restaurant. "We have herbs growing in the 'NoHo' restauant, and some downtown, but we got this beautiful piece of property and decided to go for it. It was a big expense for the company."
"It" refers to the produce-laden patio. Hibler said they're putting in planters that will grow, among other things, heirloom tomatoes, which the pizzeria will use in salads and on pizzas. "And we'll have some herbs and lettuces and greens coming out of there. We'll be able to use the [garden] space; even when those aren't fully mature we'll be able to grow stuff undeneath them."
The edible garden seems a natural outgrowth of Pitfire's conscientious food philosophy. The menu of Pitfire's farmer's-market-driven, seasonal fare is overseen by executive chef Michael Ainslie, who has worked with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Rocco DiSpirito. The seasonally changing menu might include items such as Roasted Beet & Burrata Salad ($9) and Farmer's Market Roasted Vegetables ($9.95). Wood-fire oven pizza examples include organic pumpkin pizza with roasted organic pumpkin, toasted pepitas, wild greens, four cheeses and pumpkin seed oil ($9.50) or the Green, Egg & Ham with braised chard, farm egg and smoked prosciutto ($10.25).
"At our other locations, we have customers who dine in or take out three or four times a week," said general manager Larry Rudolph. "We want this location to become a neighborhood hangout, whether you're looking for an affordable choice for your entire family, a go-to lunch spot, or your favorite destination to celebrate."
Soon the company, currently four units strong, will be changing the barren landscape of farm to table pizzerias. It's planning to expand in other areas, but locations are tricky.
"We think of ouselves like an indie record company," Hibler said. "So we search these kind of 'off-Broadway' locations in cool neighborhoods. We're interested in in being part of a community where we really feel that."
*Flickr photo by Clayirving