Every time I walk into South End, I'm greeted with a "Ciao Bella" and a kiss on the cheek. I'm seated as soon as a table is open and before I know it, there's wine in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other. I have cried tears of joy eating their pies. I have found the light. 

Let me regress—I'm originally from New Jersey, land of pizza and bagels. When I first moved to the west coast, the biggest bust was the lack of good pizzerias. I thought, maybe it's just not as embedded in the culture out here. Maybe I was spoiled back home. Maybe I'm just horribly biased. Either way, there was a void in my stomach that was impossible to ignore. When one of my good friends told me she got a job working at a wine bar in Venice, I was not expecting such high-quality food, but it's safe to say the void has been filled many times over. 

Location, Location, Location

I personally always feel out of place on Abbot Kinney. The proto-hipster culture that slowly grew up and yuppified has moved in on this slice of real estate, filling it's storefronts with overpriced furniture, designer sunglasses, and minimal food portions. And lest we not forget that Lindsay Lohan debacle that gave the block national attention back in 2011.

South End, however, does not feel like Abbot Kinney. It feels like an authentic Italian kitchen with practical food and drinks. I've never left feeling anything less than full and happy. They are far enough from the center of the AK hubbub that you can actually navigate the sidewalks, and perhaps the biggest blessing of all is their (free) parking lot.

Dinner + Drinks

South End locally and organically sources fresh ingredients. Additionally, they make the pizza dough every night in house, allowing it to go through an 18-24 hour fermentation process before preparing it for the wood-fire oven. My favorite pie, the Kinney, has crushed Roma tomatoes, melt in your mouth buratta cheese, homemade pesto, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprig of fresh basil. It is the golden ratio of ingredients on a 12" plate. And though their food is highly worthy of all the Instagrams, it's rare that it lasts even that long on your plate before it's totally, unapologetically devoured.

Their wines come from all over the world- Mexico, Chile, Slovenia, France, Argentina, and of course, Italy. The wine list is intimidating for anyone less than a connoisseur, but the staff is super helpful when it comes to navigating the menu to find exactly what you're looking for. The wine and pizza pair perfectly together and make for one classy-as-hell meal. 

Treat Yourself 

sauce, cheese, cream, salmon
Angela Brittain

While South End is slightly out of the price range for an average night of homework and Netflix, it is perfect for a girls night out, a date, a place to impress your parents, or a celebration of life. If you're going to spend your money going out, it might as well be at a place you know will deliver excellent food and a great experience. After all, the owner's philosophy is to share their love of pizza and wine with their customers, and this has greatly influenced every experience I've had eating there.

I highly recommend making a reservation on OpenTable to ensure you have a spot, and maybe calling a Lyft so you can enjoy the wine responsibly.