For many expecting mothers, the final weeks of pregnancy are the hardest. In the last thirty-eight to forty-two weeks of pregnancy, overdue moms often turn to natural stimulants to encourage labor. But when baby experts' recommended triggers–long walks, eating spicy food, lots of sex–fail to jump start contractions, what's there to do? For almost twenty years, pregnant Angelenos have been making the pilgrimage to Caioti Pizza Café in Studio City for a salad that is rumored to induce labor.

Simply called “The Salad”, Caioti's famous greens are a combination of tossed romaine and watercress with walnuts and gorgonzola. But what about this leafy mixture has the power to induce labor? According to local folklore, it's the restaurant's special balsamic vinaigrette that jump-starts contractions.

The Maternity Salad Dressing; Credit: Caioti Cafe

The Maternity Salad Dressing; Credit: Caioti Cafe

The now famous salad was originated by the late Ed LaDou, the restaurant's creator. “We've never claimed that 'The Salad' actually induces labor,” says Cindy LaDou, owner of Caioti Pizza Café. “But, as my husband used to say…it helps.”

Overdue mothers don't seem to care exactly how the mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, and seasonings can encourage labor. New mothers who swear by Caioti's salad share the news of their “salad babies” with other pregnant friends–resulting in a steady stream of overdue women lunching and dining at the Studio City restaurant. And now that Caoiti bottles their dressing, LaDou estimates they sell between 100-300 bottles of the vinaigrette a month on their online shop.

Don't even think about trying to figure out the secret ingredient of the vinaigrette. The recipe for the dressing is top secret. Even the kitchen staff has had to sign confidentiality agreements.

“The Salad” is served at lunch and dinner, Monday through Sunday.

Caioti Pizza Café: 4346 Tujunga Ave., Studio City; (818) 761-3588.

Brooke Burton is also the author of

LA Weekly