Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Café Gratitude Pizza and Pint Pop-Up

Chef Nico of Pizza Nico fired up pizzas in his wood fired oven at the Pizza and Pint Pop-Up at Café Gratitude on Wednesday night. (photos from Deborah Brooks)


Pop-ups have become ubiquitous within the LA food scene. They are a fun and creative way to bring attention to a chef’s new creations or introduce lesser-known artisan craft products to consumers.


Entrance sign to pop-up


Wednesday night at the Pizza and Pint Pop-Up at Café Gratitude on North Larchmont was all about that and more. For $20, customers got tickets for a chef-designed pizza and a local beverage of choice (a la carte was also available), while a local DJ spun songs on the large outdoor patio of the restaurant. High top tables were set up with good distance between them to enjoy the food and drink under an ever-changing palette of multi-colored lights. There was even a photo booth to commemorate the evening out with friends and family. It was definitely party time on North Larchmont, usually the quieter part of the Boulevard.

There were four pizzas featured, including two “just for the event” pies, Buffalo Cauliflower and Braised Asparagus, in addition to the restaurant”s classic Margherita and Hawaiian versions. All were creations of Executive Chef Seizan Dreux Ellis and all were made with in house products from Café Gratitude.

Special for the pop-up was that all of the pies got a unique makeover by being cooked in the portable wood-fired, clay oven of Chef Nico of Pizza Nico fame. Eli Garcia, hosting her first pop-up since becoming general manager in May, wanted to bring this one night only twist to Café Gratitude’s popular pizzas. FYI Chef Nico works at Café Gratitude during the week as a bartender. Once ordered, the pies came out quickly in a take out pizza box, which gave customers the option of eating at the venue or taking home.


Lucky Luke Brewing Table


In addition, the Café partnered with local beverage companies to offer a variety of spirits to quaff down with the hot, crusty pizzas. Lucky Luke Brewing Company offered its beloved Original Blond Ale, as well as its IPA. Boochcraft Organic Hard Kombucha offered one seasonal selection, Spiced Pear, as well as its popular Strawberry Lemonade. Nomadica, sommelier curated wine in cans, offered four selections – Red Blend, White, Sparkling White and Rose.


Boochcraft Hard Kombucha table


There was definitely something to eat and drink for every palate. All of the food and drink was vegan. All was organic with the exception of Lucky Luke beer.


My Margherita Pizza and a sample of the Original Blond Ale from Lucky Luke Brewing


So let’s talk taste! I opted for the Margherita Pizza, as it’s always a classic and always a great way to judge a good pizza. And I know a good pizza, having grown up on Long Island, New York. It was fabulous! A medium-thick crispy crust with a good chew, underneath a savory heirloom tomato sauce covered in creamy yet gooey almond burrata cheese that definitely gives the dairy version a reason to move over. There were lots of other tastes and textures going on that made this plant-based pizza an explosion of flavor with every bite. And I mean every bite, as I devoured the whole pie. I kept telling myself just one slice, then one more slice and then… well, gone! The great thing about plant-based foods is that you don’t feel weighed down afterwards.


Nomadica curated wine table


As for the drinks, I had a few sips of the Nomadica Red Blend to start, as I wanted to try this new idea in wine. Served lightly chilled, it was robust and refreshing. The cans are stunning, as they feature drawings from artists around the world. I then moved on to tasting the Original Blond Ale from Lucky Luke Brewing. I’m not usually a beer drinker. Well, not until now! The Original Blond Ale is definitely an “easy” beer to enjoy. I found that to be the perfect compliment to the Margherita pie. I brought home a can of the Strawberry Lemonade Booch that I enjoyed later at home. Hey, I was working and needed to keep my wits about me. It turned out to be another delicious selection offered that night. Sweet, fruity and just slightly vinegary that definitely leaves you a bit buzzed. A good choice for hard cider drinkers.

Now, let’s talk community. Café Gratitude is all about community. Part of its mission statement is “to serve as a gathering place…” And gather we did, as we were all hungry not only for food and drink, but for connection in this somewhat post pandemic time. The turnout was a big success. Every table had couples and groups of friends eating and chatting. Every vendor and all of the staff of Café Gratitude were welcoming and available to answer any and all questions.

Lisa Bonbright, CEO of Café Gratitude, was there to welcome and thank guests for being a part of the evening. When I shared with her my plant-based journey that led to writing this food column and my Instagram food blog, she gifted me a cookbook from the restaurant. It’s stunning! Look for some amazing recipes in future articles.

I thought that I might stay an hour and I stayed almost three. It was magical and energizing being out with my LA neighbors, under the stars.

Eli has plans to make these pop-ups a regular occurrence. Make sure to check the website. And make sure to support this gem on North Larchmont by stopping in for a meal sometime where you will always be “served with love.”


Event goers enjoying the evening.


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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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