Billy BASHA revs the throttle on his orange Lance scooter and takes off down Sunset Boulevard. Basha is on a mission, but not just to deliver pizzas. With Andiamo -- a new Italian cafe in Silver Lake -- he, wife Megan Dillon and chef Anthony Spinella are part of a growing restaurant movement that combines eco-friendly business practices with high-quality organic ingredients.
After moving from New Jersey to Los Angeles in 2003, Basha had an eco-epiphany. "I ordered from a pizzeria, and they served the salad in a Styrofoam cheeseburger container," he says. "It bothered me tremendously."
To help execute his vision for organic Italian cuisine, Basha recruited his wife and fellow Jersey boy Spinella, a lauded chef at Rancho Mirage restaurant Villa Abbate. Spinella's motivation for going eco-friendly was simple: "I have three small boys; it's their future." He came up with the name Andiamo (which means "let's go" in Italian) and wrote a menu incorporating his grandmother's recipes.
Aside from the scooters -- which get 95 miles per gallon -- the trio takes several other measures to stay green. Lights and appliances are all energy-efficient. Customers eat using compostable plates, cups and utensils; water and chemical use for dishwashing is limited. An added benefit: Andiamo opened March 8 and, after two weeks, still hadn't taken out the trash. Almost all waste gets recycled or composted. Spinella admits composting is "more expensive right now, but the more people demand it, the more production costs will go down."
Basha wants diners to remember that Andiamo's food is good "and oh, by the way, they're green as well." Toward that end, Spinella shops weekly at the Silver Lake and Santa Monica farmers markets, cultivating relationships with local growers. The trio would go even greener, but they're limited by the fact they don't own their building. Still, they plan to add bio-safe cleaning supplies and heat-free hand dryers that eliminate the need for paper towels. Spinella also hopes to become certified with the Green Restaurant Assn., "to show that if we're doing it, other businesses can," he says.
In the meantime, Andiamo is making an impression on Silver Lake, minus the carbon footprint. 2815 W. Sunset Blvd., (213) 483-7070