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The Beach Gourmet: Deliver us from hunger

Oftentimes there is a need, or desire, to enjoy the restaurant experience in the confines of one’s own abode, and in response to this demand, commerce availed us with the now established tradition of meals delivered directly to the home.

Modern pizza delivery began after World War Two, when many pizzerias were opened by soldiers who had encountered the dish while fighting in Italy and in Northern European countries, such as Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. Many pizzerias were opened in the 1950s and 1960s by Italian immigrants. Now, virtually every style and ethnicity of food can be delivered, ready to eat, to your home.

I was recently housebound and took the opportunity to sample the services of a number of local restaurants that deliver.

Ciccero’s Pizza (310.477.7758): This West L.A. Pizzeria offers a “buy one get one free” standard on all of its pizzas, including their “gourmet” options, so my friend and I each ordered our preferred toppings on two small pizzas. Tomato, pineapple, mushroom and anchovies were my preferences while my friend chose mushroom, onion and bell peppers.

The delivery time was good, less than 30 minutes, and the pizzas were well prepared with generous toppings and arrived piping hot. Ciccero’s menu is extensive; they also offer a variety of salads, pastas, calzones and sandwiches. Delicious and a great value to boot, coming in at less than thirteen bucks for a couple of good sized pizzas!

Chen Du (310.477.4917) is a well-established Chinese café previously known as Chung King and part of a small family of six restaurants with locations as far afield as Honolulu.

A friend had mentioned this was a good bet, so I called late one afternoon and ordered sweet and sour chicken ($7.95) with vegetable fried rice (no egg, $4.40).

Barely twenty minutes had passed when the doorbell rang and I was bearing witness to a jovial Chinese gentleman with a beaming smile holding aloft the ubiquitous large brown paper bag in preparation of presenting it to me like some kind of valued reward.

The meal was replete with all of the ornaments of a Chinese feast (soy sauce, fortune cookies and napkins), except in this instance the package was bereft of chopsticks. I always like to use the appropriate tools for the job, so thankfully I had some on hand and was able to discard the innocuous plastic fork they had supplied.

The food was very good with HUGE portions, so be careful not to over order as you will almost definitely have some remaining for the following day. Chen Du came through with a good delivery experience and again, good value.

All India Café (310.442.5250) is a restaurant that offers Indian specialties and recipes from the many diverse regions of that vast country and has a menu that reflects the multitude of flavors that encompasses.

I ordered a shrimp curry (black tiger shrimp prepared with onion, ginger, tomato and lime juice $11.95) with naan bread ($2.25) and basmati rice ($2.50).

Delivery time was an acceptable 45 minutes. The dishes were well packaged and presented, with no leakage that can often be a risk with curry-style foods.

I enjoyed very good, delicious food, and could not resist playing my Ravi Shankar CD just to enhance the experience. Moderately priced with polite and courteous service made this a pleasant and rewarding affair.

These restaurants are just a small sampling of the diversity that the Westside is blessed with, and here are a couple of tips to ensure satisfaction:

First, order your food clearly and request that the order taker repeat back to you the important parts such as address (I wonder how many hapless delivery people have been vainly searching for apartment 8 when it was apartment A that they were searching for?). If possible, give some visual landmarks too.

Second, inform the restaurant of the method of payment since credit cards have to be processed prior to delivery. Remember to tip the drivers, as this is their primary source of income.

Bon appetit!

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