Location: Del Mar Gold Line Station
Service: Quick, Helpful, Friendly
Restroom: Didn’t check it out
Here’s a cool venue tidbit: the pizzeria was once used as the Del Mar Train Station luggage room in the 1930s, hence the name (http://www.theluggageroom.com/
I have a prejudice against “gourmet” restaurants in pretty neighborhoods, but I can’t help but try such places. Not familiar with Pasadena dining and service, I was already sure I would be made uncomfortable walking into this place all alone in cheap workout clothes. Prepared for a cold once over and a lonely table by the bathroom, I asked the hostess for a table for one. A genuinely friendly voice replied, “Sure, would the bar be okay?” After flinching reflexively, I said yes and she said I could sit where ever I liked (even though I quickly assumed it would be the end stool accompanying the bar space supporting the register). Better yet, it was a rectangular bar in the center of the restaurant where the bar tenders are never too far. After my huge Swiss backpack and I settled down at a nice, sociable spot at the island, I asked the bar tender for a glass of cab and was hit by yet another surprise: house cabernet sauvingon is $4! AND it went down well! Amazing.
Slacking a bit from my initial defenses, I drank in my surroundings. It was like a chic candle-, lit barn washed in warm red, brown, and black. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and on the the walls were abstract paintings and a huge framed mirror with the menu on it. The brick oven ablaze with olive wood fire was the pièce de résistance, out in the open for all to see, chefs, ingredients, and all. Through the window I could see the yellow Gold Line sign overlooking the patio. I was delighted to see an eclectic crowd: young office workers retiring for happy hour, older couples, girlfriends, young families, college buddies, and the beautiful soloists such as myself. It was comfy.
When my pizza came out, straight from the brick oven, a waiter asked if I wanted parmesean. Yes, he grated fresh parm over the pizza to my liking. A real fork-and-knife-pizza. I had ordered The Padre, which was topped with prosciutto di san daniele, dates, maytag blue cheese, and fresh arugula. All these ingredients, as with everything else off the food menu, is carefully chosen from the farmers market. By then, I was warm with drink and hunger had turned into lust; before me, laid out on a wooden board was the pie I had been imagining since I read it off the menu. The entire pie was amazing, but there were some bites that tasted like biting into a sweet blintz filled with bacon. I must have sighed my bliss out loud because the bartender asked if it was “that good?” The experience left me with an afterglow that will keep me coming back for more.