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Dig This (Scene) Locale90 Pizza Market

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Channel your inner Sophia Loren and eat like a Naples local at the newest pizza joint in the Riviera Village.

If the Italian pop music playing on the sound system doesn’t transport you to Southern Italy, chances are the thin-crust pizza at Locale 90 Neapolitan Pizza Market will.

One of the newer eateries to open in Redondo Beach’s Riviera Village, Locale 90 is housed at the site of the former Dolce Vita on Catalina Avenue. With concrete floors and tables made from reclaimed wood, Locale 90 serves up food in the style of the Italian port city of Naples, recognized as the birthplace of pizza.

Neapolitan pizza is characterized by its thin crust, relatively small size (12 inches in diameter), and simple, basic ingredients: fresh mozzarella, fragrant basil leaves and plucked-from-the-vine tomatoes. Fittingly, Locale 90 gets its name from the Italian word for “local” combined with a number that represents the first two digits of the Redondo Beach zip code and the time it takes to bake a traditional Neapolitan pizza—90 seconds at a scorchingly high 800 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We chose ‘locale’ because all of our ingredients are sourced locally,” says owner John Mentesana. He notes that even the beers and wine served at the restaurant are either from local producers or direct from the motherland of Italy.

Locale 90 patrons order at the register, situated at the end of the tidy counter where tattooed pizzaiolos top uncooked dough with crushed tomatoes, snow-white chunks of fresh, hand-pulled mozzarella and myriad combinations of toppings. There are two basic pizza styles to choose from: pizza rossa, or red pizza, and pizza bianca, or white pizza. The latter eschews the traditional crushed tomatoes for a “white” base of extra-virgin olive oil and garlic.

Once you choose between red or white, you can opt for Neapolitan classics like Margherita or Puttanesca, or you can select the more eclectic pizza bianca with offerings including lemon-marinated fennel with feta cheese, shaved Brussels sprouts with pancetta, or kale and egg with Parmesan and truffle oil.

If you’re feeling creative, you can invent your own pizza. Start with red or white, and then top it off with anything from toasted pine nuts and Calabrese peppers to capers, soppressata and roasted eggplant.

The star of the show is the pizza oven, which is covered in red glass mosaic tiles that shimmer like Dorothy’s ruby slippers. The story behind the oven, according to a Locale 90 publicist, is that it was designed to look like Mount Vesuvius, perhaps the most infamous landmark in Naples. Thankfully, the only fireworks you’ll experience at Locale 90 are the flavorful kind.

Locale 90 A Redondo Beach Restaurant with Authentic Pizza and More

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It rained the first time I went to Locale 90. I know that sounds a little strange since it hasn’t rained in months. But on this particular Sunday, there was a thunder and lightning storm by the beach, which included a good old-fashioned downpour. It wouldn’t have mattered all that much except that I had opted to sit at one of the sidewalk tables at Locale 90 and it rained so hard that the folks at the tables closest to the edge of the sidewalk were drenched even though they huddled under the overhead sun umbrella.

Eventually, they fled inside to dry out. But I had opted for a table under the awning directly in front of the restaurant and though my deck shoes got kind of wet (which is fine for deck shoes), the rest of me stayed dry. So did my pizza and the sundry other dishes on the table, which included a classic Caesar salad made with large leaves of romaine lettuce, lots of parmesan cheese and a fair number of anchovies. I like anchovies; I think they make a Caesar salad that much better and they sure tasted just fine in the rain.

It’s taken awhile for Locale 90 to open. It sits in a space on Catalina Avenue, in the midst of the shopping and dining district, that’s been home to a number of restaurants over the years — most recently Dolce Vita, which began as a European deli, then turned into a Roman trattoria, before giving up the ghost. The powers behind Locale 90 have been wise enough to get rid of both the name, and the look. This is now a classic Italian pizzeria that would be right at home on the back streets of Naples.

It’s a long room, where you order at the counter, then grab a table and wait patiently for a finite number of dishes to show up. Most of the menu is dedicated to pizzas, which are cooked in a superhot oven, and show up with almost shocking speed. This is the way pizza is made these days; the venerable slow cooked pie is a thing of the past. Go to modernist pizzerias like Blaze, Mozza or 800 Degrees and you’ll be amazed by how fast the pies are cooked. (I’m guessing under two minutes, though I’m hearing tales of much faster than that.)

http://www.dailybreeze.com/arts-and-entertainment/20140820/locale-90-a-redondo-beach-restaurant-with-authentic-pizza-and-more

Locale90 Offers Authentic Neapolitan Pizza

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There is no shortage of pizza in the South Bay but John and Jennifer Mentesana are doing things a bit differently at Locale 90 in Redondo Beach.

The pizzeria and marketplace, focusing on Neopolitan-style pies and European food and wine products for sale, opened in July. The restaurant has been so successful in its first six months, the owners are already looking to open a second location in the beach cities.

John, a New Jersey native and 20-year resident of the South Bay, spent nearly two decades in the radio business before he tired of corporate life. Around that time, the company he worked for was sold and he was out a job.

“I walked into my house and said, ‘Honey, we are opening a pizzeria,’” he said. “It’s something I knew I always wanted to do.”

Cooking for the masses was not new to John. He and his wife often had groups of friends come over and try out recipes and pairings. John’s love for Italian cuisine is in his blood; he is first generation from two Italian parents.

“My mother is from Naples and my dad is from Sicily,” he said. “My father always cooked and my grandma lived with us. It was one of those things where you have this food in front of you all your life. And it’s so simple. Pizza dough is flour, water and time. Then you add crushed tomatoes and olive oil.”

John’s cooking and the recipes from his grandmother were so popular among friends that he started thinking bigger picture.

“I thought, ‘What if we were to do something like this for real?’” he said. “And we could create a place just like we were having our friends and neighbors over and enjoying it with us.”

Locale 90 embodies that simple ethos: neighbors and friends gathering for simple, fresh Italian cuisine. The space is small and intimate. The dining space has just 40 seats and patrons order their meals at the counter. The atmosphere is casual but the food is anything but pedestrian.

The heart of the menu is the selection of Neopolitan pizzas. John uses dough made the old fashioned way, tops the pizzas with imported and local ingredients and cooks it in the massive brick oven with red tile mosaic that glimmers in the restaurant’s corner. The pizzas spend just two minutes in the high-temperate oven, just enough to melt the toppings and create a perfect char on the thin crust.

“It’s an old-world process to create the dough,” John said. “People come in and sometimes they don’t understand that the char is part of the flavor and that the pizza might be a little wet because we use fresh mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes.”

The pizza menu runs from the most basic Margherita, to proscuitto and arugula, lemon-marinated fennel and kale and egg. The kale and egg “pizza bianca,” or white pizza, is especially popular. The runny egg brings rich flavor to the kale and the pizza is finished with parmesan and earthy truffle oil.

“People come in who have been to Italy and say our pizza tastes exactly the same,” John said.

Beyond the pizzas, which are worth a trip to Locale 90 on their own, the cafe offers starters like Rosie’s meatballs and eggplant caponata and salads like a Mediterranean vegetable salad and Italian tuna and white bean. The meatballs are another piece de resistance.

“The meatballs are my mom Rosie’s recipe,” John said. “They sell out almost everyday and I’ve never seen a single meatball go unfinished. We are going to start selling them in our prepared foods area, too.”

Jennifer may not have the Italian background that her husband does, but she has spent enough time around Italians to know her stuff, too.

“I call myself ‘Italian by marriage,’” she said. “I grew up with close Italian friends who were like a second family. It was not a big surprise to anyone when I married an Italian.”

Jennifer and John met in the radio business and knew they worked well together.

“We’ve worked together before so we knew the dynamics of how to work together,” she said. “We have a very similar work philosophy and are very similar how we manage and motivate people.”

John spends every day in the restaurant and Jennifer is there when she isn’t with their two young children. But the kids enjoy Locale 90.

“We probably feed our kids here three times a week,” John said. “We know it’s fresh and healthy and they love it.”

With location number two underway, John and Jennifer are confident that they have struck a chord within the South Bay dining scene.

“All the pieces have to come together for us,” John said. “So we keep moving forward in the community. It’s important to build the Locale name. We want to be local place where people come multiple times a week,with a  price point that allows that.”

http://www.easyreadernews.com/90815/locale-90/

Locale90’s True Italian Cuisine in Redondo Beach