Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Intelligentsia Pasadena: Preview Lunch, a First Look

Knowing Pasadena residents have been looking forward to the opening of Intelligentsia Coffee's Pasadena outpost for a while now, but few may have known just how special the 3rd SoCal location would be. The space in Old Town comes with a kitchen and will soon have a liquor license. That's right, it will be a full-on restaurant with about 73 seats serving market-fresh menu and a nightly farmer's market prix-fixe dinners.
The food at Intelli-Pasadena is prepared by Matthew Poley, whose partnership with Intelligentsia started when his catering company Heirloom LA catered Intelligentsia's Christmas party. The result of Poley's experience at Angelini Osteria, La Terza, All' Angelo and Barbrix can be seen in the housemade cheese (e.g. goat's milk ricotta and sheep's milk ricotta drizzled with chestnut honey) and charcuterie platters, his specialty mushroom-ricotta and shortrib raviolis, crispy flatbreads, rib-cap lettuce tacos, and an incredible salad of fresh peeled asparagus and fennel. You can also find his famed (super cute and good) lasagna cupcakes a.k.a "lasagnettes" in various flavors, vegetarian or otherwise.


This is a definite upgrade in the space that used to be Wok 'n Roll and if Poley can maintain this quality food, Intelligentsia can easily be the best restaurant in Old Town, or at least on that part of Colorado Blvd. This style of eatery, while not new in general (pioneered long ago by Chez Panisse), is a first in Pasadena.

Intelligentsia's pastry case will feature scones, muffins, and cookies from Cake Monkey, as well as lychee tarts and other pastries from Bottega Louie, but if you're dining in might as well indulge in special treats from Cake Monkey: an unbelievably moist chocolate bread pudding and seasonal fruit crisp.

Bread pudding, Fruit Crisp (Cake Monkey)

Lychee tart (Bottega Louie)

Wash everything down with the slightly sweet and caramel-y black cat espresso, or the SCAA "best of origin" prize winner La Isabella coffee. If tea is more your speed, try their staple Iron Goddess of Mercy tea or the sweet and earthy Golden Needle cold brew.
La Tortuga cappuccino

More photos (of the charcuterie and cheese platters, ravioli, flatbread, etc) in this slideshow:

Intelligentsia Pasadena opens tomorrow and will be open for short days (10-4) for the first week but soon you will be able to get a grab-n-go lunch bag and coffee starting at 6 am and stay late for a prix fixe dinner (beer and wine involved).

Intelligentsia - Pasadena
55 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105
Intelligentsia Cafe on Urbanspoon

Intelligentsia Pasadena Cafe in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Disclaimer: This preview lunch was hosted by Intelligentsia (i.e. gratis)



Looking forward to my own dining experience at Intelligentsia. The bakery items look amazing and that "cupcake" lasagna is clever, playful and inventive. I bet it tastes as good as it looks. Thanks for sharing!


Welcome to the neighborhood! This place looks promising.

Exile Kiss

Hi burumun,

Thanks for the preview! :) This looks like another excuse for me to visit my Pasadena friends more often. (^_~)


That lasagna cupcake looks adorable! And you know how I feel about that bread pudding...

Sigh. Guess I'll just have to satisfy my Intelligentsia itch out here in Venice!


Overpriced but awesome little Lasagna Cupcake!! Just walked over and had a pumpkin butter sage one, yum!!! :) It was chaotic btw, no one really knew what was going on, orders got mixed up, long wait, and they served several to-go orders on plates. Hopefully this happened only because it's Day 1. Thanks for the news!


Diana: Venice won't be the saaame! No bread pudding OR lasagna cupcake. Come to the dark side ..

Jean: Too bad about the chaos there. I went for lunch around 11:30 and they weren't that busy so everything was still going pretty smoothly. Sounds like they got packed later? As you say though it is still during soft opening, so hopefully it'd get better soon.

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