Is It Any Good?

New age Italian, with an Alice Waters twist…in Old Town Pasadena.

Union on Urbanspoon
Union on Foodio54

Let me take a moment to talk about Union, one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Pasadena, if not in Los Angeles.

Yeah…my first two visits to Union, and…well…Union was really starting to piss me off.

First time I attempted to visit it, the Hours were wrong. At least, the hours I was told were wrong. I was looking at Urbanspoon, they said they’d be open for Lunch.

Well, they weren’t and I showed up at the Restaurant, only to get a “Closed” sign for my trouble.


I quickly corrected Urbanspoon’s listing (or at least, I sent Urbanspoon a corrected listings), and went about my day, posting all kinds of other stuff.

So, I went to try it again. This time, I used Union’s very own website to get my hours. I had ’em right this time. It was dinner time and I was in the mood for some din—


Closed…again…for building renovations.

Okay, not that I see any construction happening, but still…

It’s not like I relied on an External Website. I went to Union’s very own…and they made no mention of them being closed for the week.

Okay. One…last…time. I’m gonna give them…one…last…chance.

Third times…the charm?

I mean, I’m inside right? I can order something right? No surprises…right?

Okay. Fine. I can eat. At last. I can finally talk about what the restaurant is all about…for once.

Walking in, it’s a causal atmosphere, but nice. Union is an ideal first date kind of a restaurant. You can saunter off to the side, and have a seat by the window, overlooking — you guessed it, Union Street — or you can slide up to the bar, and watch the crew do their thing.

And the crew, let me tell you about the crew. They’re friendly. They’re dedicated. They’re…

…they’re really into Alice Waters.

Sigh. Really?

Seriously, look at the walls. I counted at least two tributes to Alice Waters in the display on the wall. That’s two more than most restaurants.

I’ve always sided with Anthony Bourdain in his Alice Waters feud, but…that’s just me.

I respect organic, farm grown, not-altered-in-any-way-but-by-mother-nature ingredients and all, but not everyone can afford that stuff.

Generally, despite my frustrations, I’m willing to forgive Union for my troubles and say that I enjoyed the meal I was served. I liked the staff and liked what was offered. Greatest restaurant ever? Ehhh, no. Would I go back?  Yeah.


WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Okay, so any place that serves up Pork Meatballs is going to rank highly in my book. Nice, porky and large. These were a good kick off to any meal. Oh, and did I mention they were spicy as all get out? We’re not talking Curry Hot, but maybe a nice swift, spicy kick you may not be expecting. Order something cold and delicious to go with it.

To complete my Porky evening, I also ordered the Porchetta, something I’ve had before, and enjoyed before but…MAN, did this order come with a massive ring of fat or what? My plate was a lovely core of Pork, a half-inch ring of fat, and then well done, well-prepared pork skin.

This is my way of letting you know that the Restaurant prepared the dish correctly, but it just wasn’t to my taste. Bourdain would be ashamed of me.


IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Yeah…mind the hours. And make sure you park someplace that will let you out for free in under 30 minutes…just in case.


PARKING: You have a number of options when parking and going to Union. So first things first, consult our Pasadena Parking Map, and focus on the Valet Stand near the corner of Union and Fair Oaks. While that spot is where the Container Store is, it’s about two doors down from the restaurant. You can park across the street at the Garage there, or over by Leonard J. Pieroni Street, and in any one of the Garages there. It’s not too long of a walk, though Leonard J. Pieroni Street doesn’t carry as much foot traffic, so you might feel more than a bit isolated at night going back to you car.


37 E. Union St.
Pasadena, CA 91103

Tel: (626) 795-5841

Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Thursday: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sunday: 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm