Serious Eats: Talk

VPN American Finally Improving the Los Angeles Pizza Scene

Mention VPN on this site and, very likely, a response will come that attacks the pizza police-like mentality of VPN and their anally retentive "rules," which, of course, can never produce quality results...Well, IMHO, my experiences with VPN have never left me thinking that. Furthermore, while i gladly admit ive been served a couple of substandard pies, 98% have unequivocally been excellent and most have been better than that.

I ate my first VPN margherita pie at the original Antica Pizzeria in Marina del Rey in the late 90s...i ate there nearly every weekend for more than 10 years and i cant really remember ever thinking i should send one back...
Since then, Antica has closed...After 30 years in LA's restaurant biz, Peppe Miele was more than happy to just run the VPN in America and train people to make "true napoletana pizza," VPN. Miele and his small staff have taught pizzaioli from Tokyo to Rio to Dallas but oddly, once Antica closed, there was no VPN pizzeria in Los Angeles.
Ive had great pies at VPN trained Robert Martin's "The Prospector" restaurant near Yosemite in the foothills of California. And in Orange County(Pane e Vino)See Slice... and even Pasadena(Settebello). But not in LA
Now thats changed. Several months ago, I tried a new pizzeria in the Pacific Palisades, Il Piccolo Ritrovo. I devoured a delicious Burrata Pizza in short order. I went back with LA's present Slice reps, Kelly B and Lance R and had a bit of a disappointing experience(one pie even us lovers of "char" considered burned)But i also found Mario Vollera, a great pizzaiolo himself and a key part of the VPN team, working as the consultant...I shoudve known because that first pie was very reminiscent of the Antica pies.anyway, he told me they were expanding and yesterday i had great burrata at their new Brentwood location, perfect simplicity...a great light, thin lightly charred crust, the san marzano sauce and burrata from the top local producer, DiStefano. More about VPN later.

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