- Briganti has Been a South Pasadena Staple for Over a Decade
The locals know a good thing when they find it… That is the main reason they continue to return time and time again to Briganti Restaurant. Briganti is located at 1423 Mission Street in South Pasadena, directly across from the South Pasadena Police station. I want to make sure everyone has a clear picture of the location in your mind because it is time for the uninitiated to experience the pleasure that is Briganti.
I was fortunate enough to try Briganti for the first time on a recent evening. As I entered, a jovial, smartly dressed man named Sam greeted me. What I would soon find out is that everyone is greeted by Sam and more importantly, everyone greets Sam in return. Sam, the general manager, and Nanni, the owner, go out of their way to interact and cater to the needs of all patrons. The restaurant includes a main dining area and a side patio. Sam escorted me to the side patio where he proceeded to tell me a little about the restaurant and the menu.
Briganti has been a South Pasadena staple for over a decade. It is known for exceptional and traditional Italian food. The menu is not created exclusively from a particular region in Italy so you can enjoy the best creations from all over. They source much of their food locally and actually work with many suppliers that are in turn actual costumers. More importantly, it is what they do with that food supply that matters! They take pride in producing most items directly in their kitchen; including all pastas, sauces, and bread. No meal is complete without the proper wine and Briganti has that covered as well. They have a wine selection consisting of 80% Italian and 20% Californian that will pair brilliantly with each meal.
After a warm conversation with Sam it was time to actually try the food. I was not left for want either. Warm and fresh homemade bread was served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar while I waited for my first course. The first appetizer was a Barrata cheese with slices of prosciutto, pear and extra virgin olive oil. It was simply amazing. The barrata cheese with divine and the combination was the perfect opening meal. The next plate was Gnocchi with Pesto. Sam wanted to make sure I was aware that their gnocchi is one of the few, if not the only, restaurants in the region that is made with 80% potato and 20% flour. You can taste the difference immediately. The gnocchi was fantastic! The pesto choice was creamy and complimented the light and fluffy gnocchi seamlessly. Sam next brought an entree of a perfectly prepared Dover Sole and acqua pazza. Literally meaning crazy water, their acqua pazza consists of mushrooms, asparagus, tomato and white wine and is used to poach the white fish. The dish was light yet filling and a great way to end my culinary experience at Briganti. No meal is complete without dessert and I was treated to the best homemade Panna Cotta that I have ever had. It was a treat that will bring me back again.
Briganti Restaurant is a true local treasure that is waiting for you to experience. For smartly prepared Italian cuisine, at more than reasonable prices, Briganti should be your next dining out adventure. The food and wine will impress you for sure, but the warm friendly greeting will definitely make you, too, feel like one of the locals.
- Sharon’s South Pasadena Style Guacamole by Sharon Hannah
When asked to volunteer for a recent event here in town the first thing said to me was, “We really like your guacamole. Can you please make a giant batch?” While there are a few more talents I can bring to the table, it’s my spicy South Pas Guac that seems to be the most memorable.
The big secret for superb guacamole is to use very fresh ingredients, which I do like to brag are mostly from our Thursday Night Farmers’ Market. With tomatoes especially, garden or farm fresh is most essential unless you’re a fan of the cardboard flavor usually available at the grocery store. Another crucial component is making sure your avocados are perfectly ripened (slightly firm) without being too mushy. When buying freshly picked avocadoes at Farmers’ Market, while ideal, you never know how long they’ll take to ripen – it could take weeks! This is when I diverge to Trader Joe’s on Mission Street and can still say everything is South Pas local. With TJ’s, I know exactly how long avocados take to ripen: two days!! When purchased harder than a rock, they will be just firm enough in 48 hours. Also, when I can’t find jalapeños at Farmers’ Market, TJ’s is my backup source.
SHOPPING LIST FOR A PARTY OF 50-75
Beylik Family Farms: 25 tomatoes (red and yellow to keep it festive.) They sometimes have the “less than perfect” selection for a dollar cheaper a pound. When peppers are in season – usually beginning late June – Beylik has wonderful sweet pimentos. Any other peppers they may have I’ll throw into my bag for a nicer variety of flavor.
I’ll usually add 2 to 3 limes which are available in multiple booths.
JF Organic Farms on the corner of Meridian and El Centro: 1 sweet or purple onion. They also have delicious peppers which I’ll grab if they’re in season.
Living Lettuce Farm: Cilantro. These guys are my usual lettuce supplier.
Suncoast Farms booth: Black beans (soak for 24 hours before cooking.)
4 packages of 4 avocadoes HARD AS A ROCK 2 to 3 max days prior.
3 packages of jalapenos (if not available at Farmers Market.)
4 big bell peppers (varying colors) if none are available at Farmers Market.
Freshly ground cumin and sea salt: What happened to our World Spices booth? Okay, you might have to hit Whole Foods.
Recipe? Holy Guacamole! I don’t really have one, but here’s what I’d suggest: Chop and mix everything up to taste (including cumin, sea salt, and a small bunch of cilantro) except the avocadoes, which should be left until the absolute last minute. Drain excess juices (great for Bloody Marys.) Douse with lime juice to keep freshness. Keep adding more peppers if too mild. Boil black beans for about 20 minutes and chill before mixing in. Right before serving, add the avocadoes. (I do like my mine chunky and the flavor stays longer. Leaving the pits in also helps to keep the freshness; it’s not just a foodie décor thing.) Douse with more lime juice and add more salt if needed. Garnish with remaining cilantro.
Another tip: I always hand chop tomatoes to contain more of the juices, but depending on time, sometimes will chop everything else in a food processor. I put everything into a giant salad spinner to drain all the liquids.
Serve with any tortilla chips. My preference is blue.
Guacamole, SoPa spicy style, is truly a great way to make friends. Enjoy!