There's a new wine and pizza bar all the way down at the south end (nudge, nudge) of Abbot Kinney where the bustling strip of retail and restaurants relaxes back into a quiet neighborhood of homes and apartments. It's part of the charm at South End. Even though it's technically on one of the most popular boulevards in the country, it's managed to be a hidden gem, tucked in a modest strip mall between an afterschool learning center and Asakuma Sushi Delivery. Johnnie's NY Pizza is also a few doors down, but these are completely different pizza experiences, and there's plenty of room for all.
South End is a dine-in restaurant, where pizza, flatbreads and charcuterie plates are meant to be enjoyed with a glass of wine or Peroni, and that's exactly what you want to do with a menu and wine list from partners Mario Vollera, from Piccolo Venice and Barbershop, and chef Frank Fermin, a Mozza alum.
The pizza dough is hand mixed daily, and the mozzarella is made in house. The sauce is prepared with fresh organic roma tomatoes, and everything is small batch, with only about 80 pizzas made each day. But do not overlook the tartes, made of delicate flatbread infused with duck fat and baked to crispy perfection, then topped with seasonal ingredients. We tried the caramelized onion and Brie with fresh figs, arugula and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and paired it with a bubbly Cremant de Limoux.
In the morning, South End serves coffee and espresso with fresh pastries delivered daily from B1 Breadshop in Downtown L.A. The owner at B1 brought together Vollera and Fermin when he decided to turn his Venice location into South End.
Vollera, an Associazione Italiana Sommelier, curates the wine selection and happily compares notes with patrons seated at the cozy communal tables within the 28-seat eatery. He also personally greets everyone who walks through the front door and thanks them when they leave. The atmosphere is welcoming without any of the pretense or prices one might expect with such culinary heavyweights behind the new endeavor. The menu ranges from $9 to $16 and wine by the glass runs between $9 and $15.
Vollera says that this is exactly the way it should be, great food and wine shared among neighbors and new friends. We'll cheers to that.