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A fine set of 'Luggage'

September 02, 2011|By Lisa Dupuy
  • 'The Fallen Angel' is one pizza on the menu at The Luggage Room in Pasadena. September 1, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
'The Fallen Angel' is one pizza on the menu…

There are many things to love about Pasadena, but what I love most is how history meets modernity. This town values the vintage and welcomes the new. Such is the case at the Luggage Room, a nifty pizzeria and cocktail bar where old bricks meet new flavors.

Next to and affiliated with Pasadena’s much-loved La Grande Orange, The Luggage Room is housed in the baggage room of the 1934 Pasadena train depot at Raymond and Del Mar. These days, crimson paint covers the walls and haunting chandeliers grace the ceiling, but it retains the warmth of an old leather suitcase. Sliding wooden barn doors in bygone days opened at track level to load and unload parcels. But the designers of the Luggage Room moved the doors to the north side of the building, creating large, airy windows, and installed a gorgeous wood-burning oven along the track-side wall. It’s that oven that makes the Luggage Room so extraordinary.

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Olive wood is burned in the oven, giving the pizzas the spirited fragrance of a Greek olive grove. The chewy crust is not sweet but has hints of sourdough and is flecked with flavorful black spots. I would call the toppings “California creative,” but gratefully they’re not just food-of-the-moment name-dropping.

My favorite is the Rocket Man ($13) with its blast of heat from Fresno chiles and slightly bitter crunchiness from broccolini, dried tomatoes and roasted garlic. Next, I love the Fallen Angel ($13) with balls of Italian sausage reminiscent of green olives, shaved fennel and roasted peppers. We got this one with the suggested cracked egg on top (no charge). It’s a kick to have a spot of breakfast in your first bite of each piece, and it tastes kind of like extra cheese.

Not as inspiring is the Shattuck Avenue pizza ($15). The burrata is not creamy, and the sweetness of the balsamic reduction, roasted garlic and piquillo peppers on the earthy olive-scented crust somehow misses the mark.

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