Many restaurants want to be the type of place where you'd spend an entire day.
South End, Mario Vollera's new hybrid pizzeria-café-wine bar on Abbot Kinney, is the first place we might actually take up on that offer.
Hidden within a corner strip mall and affixed with temporary spray-paint signage, the space doesn't beckon initially, but step inside the industrial-yet-intimate dining room and you'll discover why customers are keen to linger. "We wanted it to feel like a café in Europe," explains Vollera, who greets every customer with a handshake and leaves them with "ciao."
We've pulled together our ideal day in the life of South End.
Breakfast: South End took over B1 Breadshop's Venice location, but the restaurant still imports the bakery's delicate pastries from its downtown headquarters every morning. We popped in at 8 a.m. for a flaky pain au chocolate ($3.50) and a cup of French press coffee ($3).
Afternoon Snack: The full menu at South End doesn't roll out until 3 p.m., but it's worth the wait to snag a flatbread from former Pizzeria Mozza chef Frank Fermin. We followed an ethereal onion-brie tarte ($13), topped with sliced peaches, arugula and a latticework of aged balsamic, with a slice of goat's-milk cheesecake covered in bright blueberry jam ($9).
Late-Night Dinner: It's pizza and wine time. South End's two biggest strengths became apparent when we sampled the crisp-edged but doughy Venus ($16), a heavenly pie dressed with house-made mozzarella, crushed roma tomatoes, salami, red onion and pickled Fresno chiles. Meanwhile, Vollera (a former sommelier at Piccolo) gave us generous pours of fruity 2008 Montepulciano Nottola ($12) and a young, vibrant 2012 Paolo Massa Rivera Arneis ($14).
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