The LAist Pizzapedia, Vol. 2: Where To Find The Best Regional Pizza Styles In LA
In Los Angeles, the City That Never Sleeps, a world-class pizzeria is never more than a subway stop away and a new shop opens as often as a big-budget musical flops. Wait, that's not right.
In Los Angeles, the Motor City, our blue collar identity and harsh winters demand a hearty pie baked in steel, the kind of food that doesn't just stick to your ribs, it punches them. Hold on, let's try again.
In Los Angeles, the Eternal City, the arc of our history is long and bends toward pizza. God, why is this so hard?
In Los Angeles, the City of Angels, the only truly sustainable resource is new ideas — on the screen, in stores or on a plate. Nowhere is that more evident than in our pizza scene. Every time you blink, another rumpled, post-ironic bro has bought a roccbox and parlayed his internet fame into a two-year lease on a rough and ready storefront. The twist? It rules.
Los Angeles pizza is amazing, diverse, fun, creative and welcoming to all sorts of wacky ideas. It's a heterodoxic dream, a place where a star is always about to be born. That makes the scene hard to catalog, but it doesn't mean we'll stop trying. In that spirit, we bring you Volume II of the ever-expanding LAist Pizzapedia.
There we go, that's a little more like it.
At this point, Union is such a fixture on "Best Of Pasadena" lists that Executive Chef Chris Keyser could wallpaper the dining room with blurbs. In April, Union's ownership group embarked on a new project on the same block, the hybrid California/New York-style pizzeria U Street. As you might imagine, the pies are flawless. They're technically perfect with a zingy tomato sauce and great produce, sourced from many of the same local farmers Union relies on. Crusts are dusted with such a generous shaving of parmesan cheese, it looks like they made a pit-stop in Tony Montana's office between the oven and the box.
- 33 E Union Street, Pasadena, 626-605-0340.
Danny Boy's Famous Original Pizza
We're conditioned to be skeptical of transplants who roll into L.A. with bullish promises to improve a thing that doesn't need fixing and finally bless us with an "authentic" version of their favorite foodstuff. Fortunately, Daniel Holzman upends the stereotype of the clueless out-of-towner. The co-founder of successful New York mini-chain The Meatball Shop has landed on this coast with a NY-style pizzeria that absolutely rips. At Danny Boy's Famous Original Pizza, his traditional New York pies have perfect proportions of cheese and sauce and thin, firm yet still foldable crusts. The Sicilian slice, with its crisp bottom and bready center, has just the right number of pepperoni slices and they curl as they crisp in the oven. Damn it all, these New Yorkers might be onto something.
- 330 S. Hope St, Downtown L.A., 213-772-7664.
Bagel + Slice
The full shop isn't open yet, but chef Brad Kent's new Bagel + Slice has been doing occasional pop-ups and test runs since last summer, and it's scheduled to open on York Boulevard in Highland Park in late November. What we've tasted is more than enough to confirm this is an exciting new entrant into the NELA pizza scene. Slice varieties at the pop-ups have been simple (cheese, pepperoni, vegan) but there's a twist. You can get your slices finished with Emerald Dragon sauce, a housemade jalapeno-yuzu oil. When they ask if you want a drizzle, the answer is always yes.
- 4751 York Blvd., Highland Park.
Although Long Beach's bakeries are second to none, the city doesn't get enough love as a pizza destination. That's too bad, because you'll find tons of top-notch pies where the 710 ends. Little Coyote has two locations, an 18-month old slice joint and a two-month old pizzeria, founded by a pair of chefs with killer LA-area restaurant cred. Their menu reads like an upgraded version of the casual New York pizza parlors that everyone loves, with great beer, Italian sandwiches and perfectly executed hybrid New York-style pizzas. The pies are large and thin, with a pleasantly salty crust and straightforward toppings. They also do an excellent thick, square Grandma slice that most would describe as Sicilian. It pairs well with a glass of orange wine from their funky wine list or an Amalgamator IPA by Beachwood Brewing, another one of Long Beach's finest exports.
- 2118 E. 4th St., Long Beach, 562-434-2009.
- 3500 Los Coyotes Diagonal, Long Beach, 562-352-1555.
Pandemic or no pandemic, one of the best ways to eat is standing next to the open trunk of your car, probably in a parking lot, maybe with a covert adult beverage in a plastic cup. Few places are as conducive to an asphalt dinner as La Sorted's, a pop-up that put down roots in the Silver Lake strip mall that's home to Same Same, Moon Juice and Pho Cafe. Owner Tommy Brockert's pies are fully in the Neo-Neapolitan tradition. They boast a leopard-spotted crust with a gently drooping center, and toppings hew to the classics with a few modern twists such as artichokes and pesto or Fresno chiles and pepperoni. If you come early enough, you have a shot at the baked goods prepared by Hannah and Conor Smith (Brockert's sister and brother-in-law), who run the shop in the morning as Gemini Bakehouse.
- 2847 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-486-7188.
You don't usually walk into a gorgeous "coastal Californian" cafe with marble tabletops, white-thatched beehive light fixtures and clients who look like a casting director's dream and expect to find killer pizza. But if you prejudge Great White, you're only playing yourself. Their wood-fired ovens kick out perfect Neo-Neapolitan pies with tart sourdough crusts under high-quality toppings like sopressata, honey and smoked chili oil (the Diavola). Their Smoked Salmon pizza with dill, onion, crème fraiche, sesame and poppy seeds is like a luxurious everything bagel.
- 244 North Larchmont Blvd., Larchmont, 424-744 8403.
- 1604 Pacific Ave., Venice, 424-744 8403.
There's a lot to be said for a nostalgic blast of classic pizza. Dtown Pizzeria, which operates out of Phorage in WeHo, does the Detroit standard to perfection, with Wisconsin brick cheese baked in 8 x 10 steel pans then topped with thick twin racing stripes of crimson sauce. But they also push boundaries, putting a creative spin on the doughy pan pies with cheese baked into the crust. The Oaxacan Guey has chorizo, pickled onions and Oaxacan quesillo. Go now and you may still be able to catch their Pumpkin Pie special, a fall feast of roasted pumpkin, sausage and ricotta on a charcoal crust with a wallop of rosemary and spicy honey.
- 7326 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 323-229-2235.
It's hard to get excited about a new pizza concept opened by a former CPK exec and installed next to a valet stand at the Americana. Until you learn that the original pizzaiolo was Luigi Roditis, of the sorely missed Il Romanista in El Segundo. Roditis is no longer attached to Roca but its pizza recalls the ones served at his former shop — properly spongy dough, a crisp bottom cut into generous slices, toppings that aren't obvious but make intuitive sense the moment you taste them. Combos include sausage and mushrooms with bechamel, potato and rosemary, and asparagus and goat cheese.
- 769 Americana Way, Glendale, 818-396-5055.
The Roman pizza we typically see in Southern California is more accurately called pizza al taglio, but it's far from the Eternal City's only style of pizza. Oste, short for Osteria, is a breezy space just west of the Grove, with a menu of Roman-inspired dishes including the fried rice balls called Suppli. But you're here for the Pinsa Romana, a supposedly ancient Roman flatbread reinvented by breadmaker and pizzaiolo Corrado di Marco in 2001. The crust is made with rice and soy flour in addition to whole wheat, which is theoretically healthier and easier on digestion. Whether or not that's true, the crust is light, airy and crisp with a subtle earthiness. There are luxurious toppings including guanciale and pecorino on the eponymous Oste pinsa, but it's hard to stray from the simple Margherita. The fantastic and bracingly acidic tomato sauce dominates the pizza as though a Spanish pan con tomate took a swim across the Mediterranean.
- 8142 W. 3rd St., Beverly Grove, 323-413-2372.
CHICAGO DEEP DISH
Blackbird Pizza Shop
Blackbird is a little restaurant on Melrose just East of Fairfax with a thoughtful selection of natural wines and craft ales, stylish decor, funky art and a hip, casual vibe. If all of this makes you think their pizzas will be light and delicate, you're wrong. They make some of L.A.'s heaviest, most intensely concentrated deep dish pies. Their signature Balls Deep has housemade meatballs and enough mozzarella to fill a hot tub, surrounded by a buttery crust. It's a stunningly weighty pie, even in short diameter. The ultimate effect is so rich, a single slice can be an entire meal, although you'll probably find yourself reaching for a second... then a third.
- 7459 Melrose Ave., Melrose, 323-424-7184.
Here's one you probably haven't tried, Pittsburgh Style Pizza. What exactly is a Pittsburgh pie? Owner/pizzaiolo Ben Osher is from the Steel City and he doesn't want to get boxed in, so that's about enough. Gorilla Pies is cranking out some excellent pizzas with puffy crusts baked hot so they pick up prodigious bubbles and angry charcoal smudges that look like eye black on Joey Porter. They're breadier than New York pizzas but firmer than Neapolitans, with a hit of parmesan in the cheese blend and marinara cooked hard so that it picks up a savory, smoke-tinged edge. Put that together with topping combos like pickled fennel and nasturtium on the Sierra Bonita or pastrami and kraut-chi on their Reuben-inspired Rabbi, and their vision of Pittsburgh pizza starts to crystallize. If you want to go all-in, you won't go wrong with the kitchen sink chef's special they call The Dude.
- 12417 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village, 818-821-3777.