When the weather starts to heat up, all I want is a nice patio, a great happy hour and some friends with which to enjoy the day. On a recent sunny afternoon, the patio at Lala's Wine Bar + Pizzeria fit the bill perfectly.
Since I'm eight-and-a-half months pregnant, happy hour isn't quite as much fun as it used to be, but I do plan on trying the drink specials soon, since the deals run from 4 to 7 p.m. and include $5 glasses of wine for everything on the menu that's usually under $10, half-price wines for everything over $10 and $3 bottles of Peroni.
Luckily, the food menu at Lala's is as enticing as its drink menu, so we shared an heirloom tomato caprese salad, a pizza and the Ravioli Asparagi, the vegetarian special for the day. The caprese salad was wonderfully fresh and flavorful, with huge slices of green and red heirloom tomatoes topped with fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, chive oil, port balsamic vinegar reduction and a generous sprinkling of sea salt.
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The pizza we decided on was a vegetarian version of Lala's Pizze Diavlo, a red sauce pizza usually topped with cilantro, caramelized onions, roasted poblano peppers, fontina cheese and spicy chorizo. The kitchen happily substituted artichoke hearts for the chorizo, and though we might have missed out on some of the Diavlo's normal bite, the cracker-like crust and flavorful toppings still worked well together.
The Ravioli Asparagi was the real stand-out: six huge, housemade ravioli stuffed with asparagus, caramelized shallots, ricotta and aged gruyere. Although it was hard to detect the asparagus flavor over the more pungent flavor of the cheese in the otherwise mild filling, the rich, earthy brown butter sauce and spicy arugula and pumpkin seed salad underneath the ravioli kept the palate entertained with the play of so many different fresh flavors.