First Bite: Cult of Multiculti

If California cuisine has taught us anything over the past 30 years, it is that almost anything tastes good when you put it on a pizza. Duck sausage and goat cheese? Sure. The makings of a BLT? Why not. Tandoori chicken? Go for it. So it is no surprise that a restaurant like this one, a luxurious, gently lit hybrid Thai-Italian café in the former Old Town Pasadena digs of Naya, would come into existence. And for the record, many of the fragile, almost pastrylike pizzas that come out of Thaitalian’s wood-burning oven are pretty good: topped with spicy basil chicken, with chicken satay, or with spicy shrimp, especially when you wet them with a few drops of the house’s odd Thai-chile-infused olive oil. It is after the pizza that things start getting weird — an oven-baked lasagna, say, stuffed with basil chicken instead of ragu, or a kind of bloodless pepper steak blanketed with Thai curry. Thai grilled-beef salads can be wonderful, but not when prepared with mushy meat over-marinated with what taste like Italian herbs. Still, multiculturalism has its upsides, and surely anybody with a soul would prefer mango with sticky rice to tiramisu for dessert. 49 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 585-8808.

—Jonathan Gold

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