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When I first read the book "Eat, Pray, Love" in 2010, going to Naples to eat pizza went to the top of my bucket list. I finally made it to Naples in September 2019 and spent two days eating as much pizza as I could, including at the famous L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. The pizza was as good as I imagined and I loved the spongy crust and the perfect balance of tomato and cheese. Luckily, I don't have to go to Naples in order to enjoy the pizza because L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele is open in Hollywood and is the Please The Palate pick of the week. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Hollywood is the first U.S. location of the historic pizzeria which opened in Naples in 1870. In Naples, the pizzeria is just that. They serve two pizzas, Margherita and Marinara, and a selection of drinks. The restaurant has two rooms and old photographs are hung on the walls. In the main room, you can see the men making the pizza and the large oven the pizzas cook in. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Hollywood is the complete opposite. Located in the old Café Des Artistes, the space is modern, large and bright. After walking through a simple wooden door, you will be blown away by the beauty of the space. A patio is at the front of the restaurant. Inside, just past the hostess stand, is a welcoming lounge area, followed by a long bar and dining area and then the gorgeous garden.
I went to S.Y. Kitchen for my first time last summer and loved it.  So, when I drove up to Santa Barbara wine country for the weekend recently, I knew I wanted to go back. I remembered that the chef and sous chef are Italian brothers Luca and Francesco Crestinelli and I have actually known Luca from when he lived in Los Angeles and worked at Vincenti and then Bar Toscana. Luca hadn't been there the last time I was in so this time we got a chance to catch up. But, suddenly, I realized that I was surrounded by Italians - the chefs, the bar manager Alberto Battaglini and many of the waiters. The wine director Emily Johnston is American but, like me, an Italo-phile. I almost felt as if I was in Italy. Luca and Francesco Crestanelli I took a seat at the bar and started with cocktails (and wine). SY Kitchen is one of the only places in Santa Barbara wine country to get well-made cocktails. And, truth be told, after a day of wine tasting, a cocktail is what is needed. Bar Manager Alberto Battaglini focuses on fresh ingredients and makes all of his own garnishes. There is a wall of jars with candied citrus, herbs and other housemade garnishes. Alberto has created a good menu but really likes to hear what guests want and he has trained his staff to do the same.