Pies and Pours

The joys of pairing wine and pizza at Stella Barra

We don't always drink wine with our pizza, but when we do, it's good to have someone like Jeff Mahin tossing the dough.

Mahin, chef and co-owner at Santa Monica's Stella Barra Pizzeria and a finalist on ABC's The Taste, has opened a second branch of his cool and casual pizza bar, in Hollywood.

As at the original location, the handcrafted pizzas here are glorious: crisp-edged yet chewy; perfectly capable of standing up to a slathering of peppery tomato sauce or melted Gruyère.

But what's eye-catching at the new Stella Barra is the expanded list of old-world Italian and California wines by the glass, which holds some crowd-pleasing finds.

The 2011 Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon ($11 per glass), a booming deep-purple wine from the central coast, stands up well against pizza layered with spicy coppa, smoked mozzarella and roasted fingerling potatoes ($16).

On the more versatile side is a 2011 Zonin Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ($8 per glass), a slightly acidic red suited for both a classic Margherita ($14), or a white pizza topped with shaved fennel, rosemary and burrata ($15).

Want to slip in for a casual bite and a few glasses of wine before your movie starts at the Arclight next door? They're happy to oblige.

Sounds like La Dolce Vita to us.