Who doesn’t love a good slice of pizza? I know I do. The problem is, it’s so hard to find a pie that combines the right ratio of toppings, cheese, and crust. Too often when I eat pizza, I find myself wishing there was more or less of one ingredient or the other. Luckily, I’ve discovered a pizzeria in my hood that strikes the perfect balance between all the necessary pizza elements, and does so with unique combinations of fresh farmer’s market ingredients!
The Luggage Room Pizzeria
260 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105
The Luggage Room is a charming spot in the heart of Old Town Pasadena right next to the Gold Line Del Mar station. In fact, true to its name, the restaurant’s building was once the station’s luggage room back in 1934. Today, the interior still retains that classic feel but has been updated with sparkling chandeliers, bright red walls, and modern art. I was there for lunch, so I chose to take advantage of the summer sunshine and sit outside on the bustling patio, which overlooks Pasadena’s Central Park.
To start things off, I ordered a refreshing summer cocktail by the name of “Ingo’s Greyhound”: a mix of Ford’s gin, fresh grapefruit, lemon, and mint served over crushed ice. It was crisp and delicious – just right for a hot summer’s day!
I also tried a “Mind the Gap”, made with Ayelesbury Duck vodka, fresh cucumber, serrano peppers, and cardamom. This drink was smooth with a nice kick of spice on the tail end. Both cocktails reminded me of fresh-squeezed juice from a farmer’s stand. Can a cocktail taste healthy? Because these did!
For an appetizer, I was going to order a salad… until I spotted “Cafe Deviled Eggs” on the menu. I am a sucker for a good deviled egg, and these appetizers brought over from next door’s La Grande Orange Cafe did not disappoint! Each egg was generously piled with fluffy filling, but with a light enough texture that I wasn’t left feeling full before my pizza arrived. I enjoyed the smoky paprika flavor, mixed with a dash of chives. A sprinkling of crisp bacon on top added a nice, salty crunch to each bite.
Onto the best part – the pizzas! I was simply blown away. The Luggage Room boasts a vast selection, and it is hard to narrow down my choices, so I ended up trying three different pies. The first was a special brunch pizza called “Love U Brooklyn.” It’s only available on Saturdays and Sundays from noon till 3 pm and features The Luggage Room’s signature crust topped with smoked salmon, capers, cream cheese, and red onion with herbs and lemon zest. I have never tried a salmon pizza before, but I’m definitely sold on the idea now. The blend of all the ingredients was perfect – the cream cheese was not too overpowering, and it provided the perfect base for the buttery flavor of the salmon, while the crisp red onions, bright lemon, and briny capers added just the right amount of pop to each slice.
Next, I tried “The Padre”, which my friendly server recommended. This one featured prosciutto di San Daniele, dates, blue cheese, all topped with a heaping serving of fresh arugula. I enjoyed the sharp flavor of the cheese tempered by the sweet dates and zesty greens. The salty prosciutto and fresh shaved parmesan on top rounded out the flavor nicely.
And can we just talk about the amazing crust for a minute?
Whenever I eat pizza, I’m one of those people who tends to leave a pile of discarded crusts on my plate. This is usually because I operate under the belief that crust takes up precious real-estate in my belly. Too often, the crust is bland or dry, and I’d much rather eat the part of the pizza that has, you know, all the stuff on it. Well, this was not the case at The Luggage Room. I can safely say that their amazing crust deserves as much praise as their toppings, and I ate every last crumb.
Their dough is made in-house using a genuine live starter and is free of extra fats and hidden ingredients. After cooking in their wood-burning oven (with olive wood for added flavor), the crust comes out fluffy on the inside, and crisp on the outside, with a nice wood-burned sear on the edges.
The Padre’s crust had an extra glaze of rosemary-infused olive oil that brought out that springy sourdough flavor.
Now, If you’re gluten free and can’t try The Luggage Room’s traditional crust, fear not, for they also offer a gluten-free option, also made fresh each day. For my last dish, I tried their vegan pizza, “The Dalai Lama”, which comes with the gluten free crust, and is brimming with seasonal veggies. This pizza was simply beautiful to look at- what a riot of color!
I love food that tastes as vibrant as it looks, and this pizza was no exception. It featured a lively combination of cashew cheese, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, yellow peppers, kale, and brussels sprouts. All the veggies were fresh and bursting with flavor, and the gluten-free crust was crispy and nicely seasoned. Vegans and non-vegans alike will certainly enjoy this light and healthy palate-pleaser.
Alas, I was too full to sample The Luggage Room’s desserts, which were an assortment of gelato, red velvet cake, key lime pie, and chocolate pave. However, I did help myself to one of their complimentary French sea salt and chocolate chip cookies on my way out. They were freshly baked and thin with a chewy center, and the sweet and salty combo was the perfect cap to my meal.
I’m confident I’ll become a regular at The Luggage Room Pizzeria, especially since I’m lucky enough to live so close to it, but its convenient location to the Metro station means that anyone across L.A can quickly hop over for a satisfying meal in a beautiful, historic setting.