Bento Block

Fresh tastes just off the freeway.

  • Category
    Eat & Drink
  • Written By
    Joshua Lurie
  • Photographed By
    Tameka Jacobs

No longer is Whole Foods the best reason to exit the 101 at Coldwater Canyon. The intersection of Coldwater and Riverside Drive features a strip of creative restaurants that offers a dizzying array of varied tastes.

Rock’n Pies

This summer, when the pizza joint Rock’n Pies paid tribute to late, great Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington with a mural in their parking lot, the restaurant instantly became a major draw. Co-founder Jim Conners is a drummer and serious music fan. He and his two partners also commissioned murals of Foo Fighters star (and Valley dweller) Dave Grohl and former Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain having a slice.

The style of pie they serve is New York thin crust. Cheese pizzas are available with toppings that range from meatballs to artichoke hearts. They also offer occasional specials, including white pizza piled with ricotta, mascarpone and spinach. [Just ask.] House-made roast beef and provolone sandwiches, pungent garlic parmesan wings and garlic knots dipped in zesty marinara help to round out the menu. Pair with a solid beer program that includes California craft options from breweries like Bootlegger’s and Firestone Walker.

Interiors carry on the rock and roll theme. The bar is coated with Rolling Stones concert posters; flat screen TVs play music videos; and album covers hang on walls. It’s essentially a neighborhood play on Hard Rock Café—plus some pretty decent slices.

12920-½ Riverside Dr.  |  818-788-5050

Monster Thai

Next door, at Monster Thai, the menu is downright monstrous. Dozens of dishes fall under 13 different headers, including Monster Noodles, Monster Curries and Monster Munchies (snacks like boneless stuffed “angel” wings, satay and house-made pork jerky). The Monster Combo pairs strips of marinated grilled pork sirloin with a puffy fried egg, fried rice and piquant chili lime sauce. Garlic pepper shrimp with broccoli and duck curry are equally fierce.

This casual spot also houses a surprisingly large amount of music memorabilia. Rock music plays, and gold and platinum records line the walls, including “The Who Sings My Generation” and The Beatles’ “Let It Be.” One partner used to play in a band.

12920 Riverside Dr.  |  818-990-5206

Sushi Sazanami

If Rock’n Pies and Monster Thai are rock and roll, then Sushi Sazanami is smooth jazz. Chef Jimmy Koshino and business partner Jayvee Regala preside over a soothing Japanese restaurant, with woven chandeliers and framed fish prints on the walls. The name sazanami translates from Japanese as “calm wave,” and diners can relax and dine here at ease.

Jimmy crafts a focused sushi menu with recognizable fish like Spanish mackerel and red snapper. More unusual prepared dishes include duck breast dressed with blueberry sauce and sinus-clearing wasabi, and collagen-rich yellowtail collar simmered with daikon slabs, soy sauce, sugar and fish jus. Sushi Sazanami encourages sake and wine pairings for this refined Japanese cooking. Perhaps a plate of grilled chicken hearts with a splash of Hakutsuru plum wine?

12918 Riverside Dr.  |  747-998-5244


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