Welcome to a new series about the best dishes to eat in various neighborhoods across Los Angeles. Today we’re heading to the Santa Clarita Valley, a once-sleepy suburb now bursting with culinary growth. From shellfish-stuffed Sicilian dumplings to sweet-savory omelettes, 28-year SCV resident Sean L. Malin highlights his favorites in LA’s sometimes overlooked northern neighborhoods of Canyon Country, Valencia, and Newhall.
Mezzelune di crostacei at Piccola Trattoria
In the 1990s, Caruso’s Deli offered elevated Italian-style subs with freshly pickled peppers, rare cheeses, and house-aged meats. While Caruso’s has since moved on, original owner Angie Caruso and her family have successfully converted the former deli into Sicilian restaurant Piccola Trattoria.
Piccola’s signature dish these days is a more direct homage to the Mediterranean islands from which the Carusos first came: Mezzelune di Crostacei, hand-made half-moon ravioli thick with shrimp and scallops simmered in saffron cream. The dumplings offer an al dente bite and the insistently fragrant sauce smells like a shellfish lovers’ heaven. Parking can be tricky, but every dinner here is worth the struggle. 18302 Sierra Hwy. #107, Canyon Country
Goyi crepe at Crepissima
Crepissima is relatively new to Santa Clarita, distinguishing itself itself as a formidable player in the valley’s dessert ecosystem since it opened last winter. All of Crepissima’s crepes are good, but the goyi crepe and guava cheese crepe are sensational. The former is a parachute of a wheat pancake drizzled with dulce de leche and fine-chopped walnuts, which is then filled with poached seasonal apples that offer a tart, caramelized crunch.
The latter is its textural opposite: soft, delicate, and almost sensuous, with purple-yellow swirls of guava jelly and vanilla-infused cheese sauce pooling around the dough. Sadly, both these crepes are too large for one meal, so make time for two separate visits. 28166 Newhall Ranch Rd., Valencia
Uni creamy pasta at Black ‘N Blue
Given the high turnover rate in Town Center’s notoriously cursed Suite #110, who knows how long Black ‘N Blue will be around? That means now is the best time to try its genre-defying uni creamy pasta. With cream-tossed egg noodles buried beneath piles of squishy urchin, salty roe, and crispy nori flakes, the pasta might sound like an unlikely mish-mash of Japanese and Italian styles. Not at Black ‘N Blue. Though the dish can be both heavy and sloppy, it’s also savory in ways that only heavily-buttered seafood can be. 24300 Town Center Dr. #110, Valencia.
Tonkotsu miso ramen at Love Ramen
Bad ramen is a disgrace, but great ramen is a dream. Love Ramen’s tonkotsu miso is a thing of 12-hour, slow-boiled beauty. The usual suspects are all here: finely-sliced pork chashu, diced green onion, a marinated soft-boiled egg. It’s the scratch-made miso tare, a rich gingery sauce accented with fresh kikurage (wood ear mushroom), that has made Love Ramen a burgeoning favorite for Canyon Country residents. 18635 Soledad Canyon Rd, Ste. 104, Canyon Country
Tea’s omelette at Egg Plantation
Choosing between savory or sweet to start the day can be an impossible task, so Simon & Shannon Mee of Newhall’s brunch spot Egg Plantation offer a compromise. The peculiar Tea’s Omelette reads like Dr. Frankenstein’s preferred morning meal: “egg whites, bacon, papaya, shredded coconut, cream cheese, blueberry and cherry pie filling and cheddar cheese.” But this dish performs a high-wire act, skirting between the saccharine fruitiness of the pie, the bright and sour cream cheese, and the primal savoriness of cheese and bacon together in each bite. 24415 Walnut St., Newhall
Mom’s favorite green beans at Mom Can Cook
After 15 years in the same U-shaped strip-mall, the proprietors of Mom Can Cook announced in 2018 that they were passing the business on to their cousins. Santa Clarita residents panicked that the valley’s most renowned (and most charming) Thai kitchen would soon move, or worse, decline in quality. Thankfully, the new owners remained loyal to its previous head chef’s beloved recipes, and in some cases, even worked to refine them.
Among its key accomplishments is the new-and-improved Mom’s favorite green beans, a rich, delightfully crunchy stir fry with hints of garlic. Piled high with tenderized sweet beef and a garnish of onion flakes, one large mound of these crispy legumes is enough to make them your favorite, too. 18358 Soledad Canyon Rd., Canyon Country
Sopa de tortilla at Sabor
Sabor has the tough hurdle of facing away from Valencia’s main thoroughfare and in towards a mega-church across the street. But it would be a mistake to continue sleeping on Executive chef Leticia “Lety” Hansen’s clever deconstruction of traditional tortilla soup. First, she plates sliced chicken breast tartare-style beneath avocado, roasted sweet corn, cheese, and herbs. Then the golden brown broth is poured out of a silver teapot, melting the cheese on contact and infusing the fowl with lime, garlic, and cilantro. The result is an elegant sopa of palpable texture — chunky, spicy, and thick. 23953 Newhall Ranch Rd., Valencia