Tag Archives: playa del rey

Good pizza is always on the menu at this local eatery

He’s traveled all over the world as a chef on a cruise ship and worked at some of the best Italian restaurants on the Westside, but the moment Nando De Stefano drove through Westchester he knew he had found the place he wanted to be.

De Stefano, the owner of The Good Pizza, was born and raised in Naples, Italy, where his family still lives today. Being from an area known for its pizza and having a mom that liked to cook, meant good food was everywhere while De Stefano was growing up. He didn’t always know he wanted to be a chef, but when he missed the deadline to attend a flight academy, he ended up enrolled in a school focusing on the culinary arts. There he would study for five years and find his calling.

With a dream to eventually open a restaurant in the USA, he traveled to New York where he landed a job as a janitor in an Indian restaurant. Eventually, he was hired at an Italian eatery as a bus boy, and he became determined to work his way up into the kitchen and to learn English fluently. After about nine months of studying the language, he was confident in his conversation skills and promoted to server and then the kitchen.

Eventually, he was ready for a new adventure and headed west to Los Angeles to learn more about the restaurant business and hone his chef skills. By 2008, with experience cooking at popular spots in Malibu and Beverly Hills, De Stefano started looking for a place to open his own pizzeria focusing on food from his childhood when he found Westchester.

“We saw an ad to sublease a restaurant here, and we didn’t know where Westchester was,” recalls De Stefano. “I told my business partner I wanted to see the neighborhood before we got to the location, and it was love at first sight. I said ‘OK, we are going to open here and get this deal done.’”

More than a decade later, The Good Pizza has locations in Westchester and Playa del Rey, and is known for dishes like its black ink linguine, meatballs, and of course, its Neapolitan-style pies. He uses his mother’s recipes for the eggplant Parmesan and the meatballs, but everything else on the menu is his own creation.

“Having always worked at fine dining restaurants, making the move to casual dining was difficult because I don’t know how to take any shortcuts,” said De Stefano. “Our meatballs have 16 ingredients and take a couple of hours to make, but I don’t know how to make them any other way. I’m not going to miss any steps.”

During this difficult time for restaurants and most small businesses, The Good Pizza is offering new promotions and items to help draw in customers and their loyal fan base. There is the $20 fixed menu that includes a salad, pasta and garlic knots and an enticing homemade sangria for two you can add to your order. De Stefano also plans on holding pop-up Neapolitan pizza days, where pizza is cooked in a wood-burning oven on the sidewalk in front of the Playa del Rey location.

“Being a neighborhood pizza parlor is great and challenging at the same time. You want to make sure the neighborhood loves you and likes what you’re doing,” said De Stefano.


Visit thegoodpizza.com for more info and to check out their menu.

Playa del Rey mom shares words of hope after COVID-19 diagnosis

Stacey and her family pose for a photo.

By Stacey Cochrane, Contributing Columnist

I stepped outside my front door for the first time in three weeks. While so much in the world has changed since I was last outside, so much is also the same. The birds are singing, the grass is green, and while the beach may be empty, the ocean is still waving and the sky is free of smog and more blue than most Angelenos have seen in their lifetime. The Coronavirus pandemic has changed all of our lives, in one way or another. With that has come a ton of fear, anxiety and worry about what is to come–but in my experience, it has also brought a bunch of hope, love and a sense of community and “togetherness” that hasn’t been seen for years. My name is Stacey Cochrane, and this is the story of my family and our experience catching and recovering from COVID-19.

We don’t know where we got the virus. We have one possible contact who was maybe possibly sick, but no travel, no confirmed cases close to us, and no clues as to where we caught it. It was a day in early March when it infected my family and changed our lives for the month of March 2020. My husband woke up with symptoms that overlapped almost completely with the flu and Coronavirus, except one: he also had chest tightness, which is only a symptom of COVID-19. While he called his doctor to ask for advice, they told him what many health practitioners are having to tell their patients these days: they couldn’t see him in the office, they didn’t know what he had and no, he couldn’t get a test. At this point in March, unless you had recently traveled to China or Italy, you were not a candidate for testing. During a global pandemic where the advice is complete and total isolation if you have it, this didn’t feel comforting. I took to Facebook and heard from a friend who knew a doctor in Huntington Beach that was doing testing.

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Playa del Rey family starts new holiday tradition with Reindeer In Here

Reindeer In Here would not be one of the newest holiday traditions if author Adam Reed didn’t learn to trust his instincts. A television producer by trade, this Playa del Rey resident put everything on the line because he believed strongly in the message of his holiday-themed children’s book, which features a cuddly reindeer with unique antlers: being different is normal.

“Every one of us in the world is different in our own special way,” Adam said. “Different on the inside, different on the outside. Different in our hopes, dreams and desires and those differences should be celebrated.”

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If you’ve noticed Playa del Rey sparkling, you can thank a PDR trash fairy

The next time you see volunteers with fairy wings, trash grabbers, and maybe even tutus, along the streets of Playa del Rey, make sure you tell them “thank you” because you’ve just spotted a PDR Trash Fairy.

Led by Playa del Rey resident Sara Kay, the group was started earlier this summer after she became tired of seeing her neighborhood trashed. Instead of getting angry about the litter she’d encounter on walks through her beloved beachside community, she decided to come up with a positive solution.

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Community Spotlight: Westchester Elks Club

Classic and vintage cars from the 20s to the 70s will be the main attraction at the Westchester Elks 20th Annual Car Show & Chili Cook Off this month, and while organizers hope attendees check out the craftsmanship, the fins and the paint jobs, they’re also eager for community members to learn what the Elks are all about.


“People come to the lodge and aren’t familiar with what the Elks do. We’re not just a bunch of retirees hanging out and talking about the old days,” said Lisa Levine, who is leading the Car Show for the third year in a row. “We’re doing community events, and there’s a lot of charity stuff that we do, like working with Safe Place for Youth, Veterans, making care packages and providing scholarships.”

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Locals Only art show celebrates best of Playa del Rey

Culver Boulevard’s Clean Aesthetic might be the hippest shop on the block due to the hard work and creative sensibilities of co-owners Aaron Rosenstock, Matt Rheault and Charlie Carroll.

Once a traditional surf and skate shop known for selling t-shirts with original designs, the shop is now attracting the attention of people, both locally and citywide, looking to buy one-of-a-kind pieces of art and prints that celebrate life, Los Angeles and the community of Playa del Rey. Continue reading

Calling all artists!

Interested in helping beautify the community through art?

We are looking for artists to apply to paint murals on utility boxes in Westchester and Playa del Rey!

Applications have been extended to January 22, 2018 due to the holidays.

Selected artists will be contacted in the new year with painting anticipated to begin in January/February.

Selected artists will receive a fixed stipend for materials. During this first round of the Utility Box Mural Project, approximately 10 designs will be selected to be painted on boxes along major thoroughfares in Westchester and Playa del Rey.

Please email westchesterplayaart@gmail.com for an application with criteria and eligibility requirements.

Updated January 2018.

Holiday Recipe Contest

Wow–a lot has happened this year. Many people, including me, feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the natural disasters as well as the man-made, intentional acts of destruction we’ve experienced this year. Though there is no sweeping our sadness under the carpet or ignoring the situations at hand, I do think it’s important that we try to find fun things to celebrate in an attempt to create balance in our lives and maintain optimism. Continue reading

Secrets of the Inn at Playa del Rey: cookie edition

Greetings, Hometown News readers! It’s us, “The Inncrowd” and we’re back again this month with the Inn at Playa del Rey’s most coveted secret: our homemade chocolate chip cookie recipe! We’ve been baking these ooey-gooey-chunky-sweet-chocolate-chip-cookies from scratch every day at the Inn for the past 20 years, and our guests love them. As a matter of fact, last week, I had a woman call to make reservations who hadn’t stayed at the Inn for over 10 years. She had some questions because she wanted to make sure this was the hotel she remembered having stayed at. I told her the Inn looks like a Cape Cod beach house and, with only 22 rooms, is fairly small. That didn’t jog her memory. Next, I reminded her we’re in the little laid-back beach town of Playa del Rey where you don’t need a car because you can walk to fantastic restaurants and bars from our Inn. That didn’t jog her memory either. I then reminded her we’re on a bird sanctuary called the Ballona Wetlands and that the ocean is only 5 blocks from the Inn. The Ballona Wetlands is one of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in Los Angeles so I was sure she would remember that, but, no, nada, nothing. Suddenly the woman said, “Wait. I remember something! Do you bake homemade chocolate chip cookies from scratch everyday?” I laughed and said, “We do.” She responded, “And, can guests still swing by the kitchen and have a cookie anytime they want one?” I said, “Yes, of course” and, without hesitation, she booked a room.

Our guests aren’t the only ones who seem to love our homemade chocolate chip cookies. As y’all know, Lisa Schwab’s Cantalini’s is one of the most popular restaurants on Culver Blvd. With their homemade pastas and delicious sauces it can be hard to get a reservation on the weekend…unless, you have a secret weapon, which I do! Turns out their maître d’, Paul, can easily be bribed with our homemade chocolate chip cookies. I often call him at the height of the dinner rush on Saturday night and ask if there’s any way he could please squeeze a few of our guests in for dinner. Almost always, he responds, “Anything for you,” which I know translates into “send chocolate chip cookies.” Dutifully, I give our guests homemade chocolate chip cookies to bring to Paul. The guests laugh when I explain, “In Vegas, you know how you slip the maître d’ a $100 bill for a last minute table? Well, here at the Inn, we slip them our homemade chocolate chip cookies, and it works!”

We hope you and your family enjoy our chocolate chip cookie recipe as much as our guests and Paul do. Happy baking!

Inn at Playa del Rey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Portion: A double batch

Ingredients:

• 1 lb butter

• 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

• 1 Tbs. vanilla

• 4 eggs

• 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 Tsp. baking soda

• 1 Tsp. salt

• 4 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

Step 1. Cream together well:

1 lb butter–softened

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Step 2. Mix in:

1 Tbs. vanilla

4 eggs–one at a time

Step 3. Stir in:

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tsp. baking soda

1 Tsp. salt

Step 4. Add 4 cups chocolate chips.

Step 5. Shape into golf ball sized spheres and bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 min. or until nicely browned. Dough may be chilled overnight or for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

A few “insider tips:”

Your butter should be softened, but still a little firm. Be sure that your oven is preheated. Do not over mix. Chill the dough for a few hours if you want your cookies to keep their shape (i.e. the opposite of flat). Gas ovens work best. We use a stand up Kitchen Aid mixer and an ice cream scoop to shape the cookies.

Written by Rebecca Hill. Rebecca Hill is an innkeeper at the Inn at Playa del Rey and a published writer. Her stories have appeared in Redbook magazine and in over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. 

Adapted from Nestle® Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Photo By Liz Hall.