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The Problem with Joe's

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I've been pretty excited about Joe's Pizza opening in Santa Monica, so today, we forded crowded, traffic heavy Santa Monica to get a slice. Their new LA outpost is a small storefront next door to a place that sells t-shirts to tourist. The space is spare, functional, white, with a marble counter set in front of the small kitchen. By the time we got there, it was fairly crowded, and we had to wait for them to pull a pizza out of the oven.

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Inside, the tables were full, but we lucked out, the table outside was open when we stumbled out with our hot slices. When we settled into them, and I asked my husband what he thought (since he has quite the discriminating pizza palate) and he told me that it reminded him of pizza he used to have as a kid at the Paramus Mall. When I looked at him blankly, he said that he’d liked it, adding that the pepperoni at Joe's was great. It was a very good slice. The crust was the best part, firm but soft, crunchy in all the right places without being dry or burnt.

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I thought there was a flavor note missing in the sauce. It wasn’t too spicy or too sour, it was more that there was just a part of my tongue that it didn’t reach. It was definitely better than a lot of the food around the Promenade, though I didn’t think it was as good as my favorite slice, Ben’s Pizza of SoHo.

As good as the slice was, I don’t think I’ll be frequenting Joe’s. As a New York institution, they picked a place with a lot of foot traffic, which will be good for business and great for anyone who lives locally. But it’s not so good if you have to drive there and spend 20 precious minutes of your life circling around a Santa Monica parking structure. I could see stopping by there for a quick bite if I was at the Promenade, but the area’s so difficult, it’s almost not worth it.

Joe’s Pizza, 111 Broadway, Santa Monica