I’m here today to proudly proclaim that AnteatersandBruins was wrong. “Wait...what?” you ask.
Allow me to explain.
One of the theories as to how tailgating came about has to do with the fact that early sport stadiums had no food vendors selling food.
Historically, the food vendors at the Rose Bowl have been ok, but they never quite reached their full potential under previous concession companies Centerplate and Sodexo. Much like the Bruin football team under new head coach Chip Kelly, tomorrow, that is about to change.
Levy Restaurants, the food vendor which serves Dodger Stadium, Staples Center, Stub Hub Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center has replaced Sodexo as the food vendor at the Rose Bowl and the result is nothing short of amazing.
I had an opportunity to sample some of the new food that will make its debut tomorrow and I almost cancelled my plans to tailgate. Then, I remembered that this would likely upset all of the friends I tailgate with. Needless to say, my tailgate plans were back on immediately. After all, I couldn’t disappoint my buddy Paul who has been abstaining from tri-tip for the last week in anticipation of the two I will be smoking tomorrow!
But, don’t take my decision to not cancel my tailgate plans as proof that the new offerings are anything less than amazing.
I got to sample some of the new food offerings today and they were a tailgate party in my mouth.
The first thing I tried was the Smoked Brisket Burrito from Border Grill. Border Grill was started by the Food Network’s “Two Hot Tamales”, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Border Grill’s Smoked Brisket Burrito is an absolute must-have at the Rose Bowl. I also got to sample their Chicken Tinga Nachos, which were equally amazing. These are so far apart from those circle tortilla chips that the Rose Bowl used to serve that they might just make you forget that they ever sold those circle chips with that big dollop of cheese in the first place.
For you non-meat eaters out there, Sue Feniger did tell me that they will also have offerings with tofu at the Rose Bowl. If the smoked brisket and the chicken tinga are any indication, their tofu offerings should be equally pleasing to you vegetarians out there.
Now, the food I sampled was a pepperoni pizza slice from Happy Slice Pizza. Let me say before going on that I am an avowed pizza snob. I grew up in New Jersey. I know good pizza when I see it and eat it. Let’s face it. It can be hard to find good New York-style pizza in LA. That’s why my go-to pizza joint in LA has always been Lamonica’s in Westwood.
Before I got to sample Happy Slice’s pizza, I took a look at all the new food offerings. When I got to the table with the Happy Slice pizza, I knew that they’re pizza was going to be fantastic just from looking at it. All I had to do was see what their pizza looked like and I knew it was going to be excellent.
When I finally got to bite into a slice, it confirmed my original hypothesis. Now, stadium pizza are two words I don’t ever like putting together because...well...it never ends well. Happy Slice’s pizza is different. It’s really great pizza that happens to be sold at the Rose Bowl. I challenge anyone to find me a better slice of stadium pizza in the entire country. Heck, John Lamonica may need to watch out because Happy Slice is opening a location in Westwood soon and it may just steal some of his business. It’s that good.
After sampling the Border Grill burrito and the Happy Slice pepperoni, I needed some dessert. It’s a good thing one of the new food venues at the Rose Bowl is Pie ‘N Burger because I decided to try a slice of their boysenberry pie. As I was almost done with my slice of this delectable treat, one of the chefs said to me, “You didn’t get any whipped cream on your pie.” I immediately told him that this pie was so delicious it didn’t need any. They are planning on offering a few different flavors for each game. If they are each as good as the boysenberry pie was today, something tells me they may sell out each week.
Still looking to sample some more dessert, I turned to the Carmela Ice Cream table. Carmela Ice Cream has a host of different choices that will be available. You can see a sample of their flavors in the photo gallery. But, when it came to sampling what they had, I chose to try their Rose Petal ice cream sandwich. Allow me to say that this was probably the most unique item I tried today. That’s not to say it wasn’t good. It was delicious, but it was deliciously unique. So, tomorrow, when the hot sun is beating down on you and it’s halftime and you want something cold to help you beat the heat, give one of these a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
By this point, I was pretty much running out of superlatives to describe what I was eating and I was running out of room. But there was still one more menu item I wanted to try and that was the Pie ‘N Burger cheeseburger, even though I learned that Pie ‘N Burger’s owner Michael Osborn wasn’t going to be at tomorrow’s game because he will be at the Mausoleum cheering on his alma mater. Yup, the guy went to Southern Cal. In his defense, he told me today that when he was going to college, he thought he wanted to be a dentist and the Southern Cal dental school was one of the best at the time.
His Trojan fandom aside, his burgers looked delicious. He suggested that I should at least try a few bites of one as he told me that his burger had been ranked one of the top five chesseburgers in the country by Food Network. Finally, I grabbed one and it was every bit as good as it looked. I didn’t eat the whole thing, but I did end up eating more than a “few bites.”
Alas, there were a few new additions I didn’t sample. I’m not a fish eater. So, I didn’t try anything from the new Fish Market which will be serving up poke nachos, fish tacos and lobster rolls, but I still got some photos of some of the Fish Market offerings.
I also didn’t try anything from the new Home Brewed Bar which will offer cold brew teas, coffee, and Boba or anything from Levy’s partner Best Beverage Catering.
But I did get to see the set up for the TCL Lounge on the sunny side of the stadium. The TCL Lounge will provide a shady spot on the East side of the stadium for Wooden Athletic Fund members who have donated a minimum of $1,700 and purchased tickets on the sunny side of the stadium while West side tickets holders are required to donate a minimum of $5,500 to have access to this or the West side of the stadium’s new Stella Rosa Beer & Wine Garden.
Beer and wine will be available for purchase for by those who have access to these areas.
Finally, the other new exciting addition comes for those who may be on a budget. There will be value priced concessions sold near Gates D and G. These areas will offer hot dogs, nachos and soft drinks all priced at $3 each. I was unable to find out much else about these offerings. So, I don’t know how large or small these drinks will be or any of the other related details, but they will be available as well tomorrow.
Wrapping up, here are a few videos I shot today along with a photo gallery of pictures from today’s event.
- Members of the Rose Bowl Food Service team and owners of some of the new featured restaurants pose with the UCLA Spirit Squad and Joe Bruin. Joe Piechowski
- Joe Bruin gives Happy Slice Pizza a 4’s Up! Joe Piechowski
- Joe Bruin poses with a beverage from Home Brewed Bar. Joe Piechowski
- Joe Bruin finds some shade on a warm sunny day. Joe Piechowski
- Joe Bruin decides to try a Carmela Ice Cream sandwich. Joe Piechowski
- One of the chefs from Levy Restaurants poses with Joe Bruin and a member of the UCLA Spirit Squad behind the food offerings that will be available at Fish Market. Joe Piechowski
- Every Bruin needs a slice of pizza once in a while. Joe Piechowski
- The Happy Slice Pizza team pose with Joe Bruin. Joe Piechowski
- Two chefs from Levy Restaurants slice up some boysenberry pie from Pie ‘N Burger. Joe Piechowski
- One of the food offerings from Fish Market. Joe Piechowski
- More of the Fish Market food offerings. Joe Piechowski
- Boysenberry pie from Pie ‘N Burger Joe Piechowski
- Sue Feniger of Border Grill poses with Joe Bruin and a member of the UCLA Spirit Squad. Joe Piechowski
- Some of the offerings from Carmela Ice Cream. Note the Rose Pedal ice cream sandwich at the bottom. Joe Piechowski
- Beverages from Home Brewed Bar. Joe Piechowski
- Pizza slices from Happy Slice were delicious! Joe Piechowski
- Another look at the Happy Slice pizza slices. Joe Piechowski
- Some items that were on the Best Beverage Catering table. Joe Piechowski
- The Best Beverage Catering table also had some roasted chiles. Joe Piechowski