My friends say I'm snobby on the topic of pizza.
@Rowdy1 Not sure if I entirely agree with you. LA has unarguably a historically and currently greater Koreatown and acceptance by non-Korean diners. Korean food is definitely more variegated here and therefore yields more higher quality establishments by sheer statistics. Furthermore, it has such great quality that it has introduced new types of dish into the native cuisine: "LA kalbi" cross cut style, dukk bbo ssam, for starters.
However, I agree with this article's presentation of mainstream acceptance, because the issue at heart is actually a deeper question of which city has a greater general influence upon our country's overall dining habits and taste.
In my opinion, I think it's historically a toss-up with a tip towards NYC due to its much more extensive high-end and therefore influential restaurant culture. Obviously the picture is a bit complicated, since LA proletariat street food culture and health food trends have had a great influence as well in how we eat, but the trends that trickle down to the rest of society come from popularization of ideas from the "top."
In this case of Korean cuisine, I posit that Momofuku Ssam Bar can be considered ground zero for busting Korean food into the high end dining consciousness and therefore into NYC's widespread general consciousness. After it hit in 2006, I started noticing a lot more restaurants and Food Network chefs (and even Martha Stewart) starting to utilize Kimchi and other Korean ingredients more frequently in their recipes. Diners that grew up eating Korean food (native Koreans or Korean Americans like myself) shrugged their collective shoulders since it didn't really do anything new to Korean food, but it definitely was remarkable to hear non-Korean diners wax poetic on the concept of bbo ssam and kimchi.
Non-Korean diners in LA have obviously known about Korean food before then in many ways, but not enough to impact our culture at large - I still don't know that many LA natives that know Korean food beyond Korean BBQ. It wasn't until Roy Choi's great pioneering effort hit the ground two years later in late 2008 that the LA's korean food scene began making waves outside of LA.
Regardless, the main point we can all agree upon is that Korean food is gaining greater acceptance in our society, something we can all be happy about :-D
Totto Ramen, at the counter!!
Honestly, after personally living in LA for a year and half after being in the NYC pizza mecca for almost a decade, I can see why you write this post. You (we) really don't have much of a choice. Now, there are some decent places here. Gjelina in Venice has admittedly a great crust (what lives on top, on the other hand, is ok...). Village Pizza and Vito's Pizza are about par for the East coast slice course. And agreed, Casa Bianca's sausage is the sole and worthy reason to visit.
I just get depressed with I think about places at are supposed to be 'good' here, like Mozza, Mother Dough, Tomato Pie, 800deg, etc. I spent the same amount of $$ for these tiers of pizza in the northeast, so I can't bring myself to spend the same here for inferior products. Don't get me wrong - they're not bad. They're pretty good. But it's a dollar value thing. They aren't mind-blowingly great.
This regional bias, I believe, is a good thing. Localized specialties make places interesting to visit. Asian and Mexican food are incredible and unmatched as a whole here in LA, so it's worth flying out here to partake of it. In the case of pizza, it is all the more reason why to visit NYC. Support the city!! :-)
san diego - for some reason, a host of pretty good places have opened up recently. basic pizza's pretty good - new haven clone. the proprietor's from new haven. he's also opened up other locations. I've been reading about some other locations there. you should go there during happy hour - they serve pizza for free! :-)
will try sotto.
mozza isn't just $3 more - it's also a much smaller pie than what I'm used to; i guess that's why i always feel like i'm being gypped every time i see one of those pies. it's good, but also a very different style of crust as well from what i've come to love. not to knock the hustle, it is a good product.
yeah - but is there an affordable place relative to the food one eats? I feel like LA's italian food demands a premium significantly greater than its nyc equivalents. Mario's Italian Deli in Glendale, as well as Il Panini Di Ambra are great, but they have told me themselves that the supply chains to LA for quality ingredients don't really exist to the same degree in NYC/NJ/CT/PA. I had a great meal at Osteria Mamma, but I've had similar meals in Brooklyn for less.
The pizza scene here just isn't good. There are couple of decent spots that try (Mozza is good but way overpriced and a bit pretentious, same goes for Mother Dough, Antica has closed down; Garage, Pitfire, and Tomato Pie are ok...) but there's nothing that rivals what's going on in SF or even SD. Basic Pizza in SD and its compadre locations in SD's vicinity are great New Haven style clones, so that's the only hope i have to a decent pie worth its price within a 2 hour drive.
slice, it's been a while.
Adam, it's a great guide. It does help people understand the concept that pizza can vary greatly; the average person doesn't really understand the idea, so the original article serves its purpose very well.
i mostly agree with the review. however, imho, the sausage is the only major redeeming value of this pie. it's hard to hate pizza in general, and generic pizza specifically. This pizza for the most part is slightly above generic, but not by much. if we are to talk classifications to simply help understand what one gets with this pizza, it's definitely not a bar pie. Kinchley's Tavern & Star Tavern = bar pie. for example, this is thicker and less quality than kinchley's cracker crust and deceptively delicious fra diavolo.
i would say that this restaurant is a clear indication of the state of italian food affairs in los angeles. namely, the italian-american presence has mostly diluted out and left bare traces of eateries scattered through the city, unlike out east. the food is very early to mid 20th century americanized sicilian italian food; comforting, familiar, and unfortunately generic.
"noticed how thin the outer crust was almost immediately" as proposed in an earlier post, i think Slice should codify this as the Crisp Zone. :-)
jamie oliver has a recipe for this in his italy cookbook he wrote a while ago. 'bout time someone did this in a restaurant!
crazy, the prices are so high probably due to the escalating rent in the area, even the main barnes and noble got edged out. sucks.
i presume Dar Poeta will be a location you'll visit?
adam, you considerably elevated my pizza game with slice. thanks for the life-changing work.
I love Joe's and hope they don't upgrade their toppings. they represent the epitome of that archetype of pizza - 60s-80s era NYC slice.
so glad this place is finally on here, i love it. one of my fave in philly. i would say though that i think the meat here is not pressed, but actual sliced meat. so much higher quality that way, and they still get it to be so tender when you bit into it.
@ j. w. sorry - what i meant was, the first tips are pretty good in terms of how to position lights in any situation - whether they are flashes, windows, or light bulbs in lamps, whether it's in a restaurant or at home. they explain pretty well how NOT to use in-camera flash either in a point and shoot or DSLR. at home, the same tips still apply and would be much easier to implement since you won't have other diners or servers staring at you for using a tripod and getting into the sometimes odd/embarrassing positions to get these shots. well, somewhat easier - if there's a kid screaming for attention and a dog knocking into the tripod while a reader's setting up the shot, well... that advice is out of this article's scope :-)
-pushing ISO up past 1600 is fine for most modern DSLR cameras, especially since the noise won't be so bad at web resolutions. for apertures of 3.5 to 4, this becomes even more important. for point and shoots, they struggle past ISO 400.
-more intrepid readers should invest in prime lenses since their larger apertures give much more flexibility in low-light situations. 50mm lenses have a high value for the money and have apertures as large as f/1.8 or f/1.4.
-cameras that have image stabilization (IS) enabled will enable people to get slower shutter speeds down to even 1/10 sec after they follow all the hand-held stabilization tips mentioned in the article. some point 'n shoot models and many kit-lenses in DSLRs have IS features these days.
@ J W - all of these tips also equally apply to taking pictures of food made at home. even more so, there's no excuse to take crappy pictures at home since one doesn't have the immutable constraints of the restaurant lighting situations.
i liked donatella's. it's very good pizza. it's also not a great value. simple as that. but when you're eating out in NYC, that extra wallet-hit should be expected.
@forza i'm more surprised about the lack of comments on the Megaman 2 theme music i used for the video. i guess no children of the 80s read slice! haha.
@scott - you should totally go. call ahead for reservations and ask kyle what seasonal specials he has cooked up!
yo forza, i wasn't annoyed at all, i'm thankful you enjoyed the article and was trying to expain the article points in my last comment in hopes i didn't rub off on you the wrong way. you raised some good issues and i think there are others that would probably feel the same way, so thanks for speaking up! i think the general VPN knocks by reviewers come from having tried enough places that are all about VPN but don't have the goods to back it up.
@ pizzalove - yeah, kyle's been only here for 2 years, and he said to me that only for the past couple of months does he think he's found a real sweet spot to his method. i think the brothers made a smart move by hiring someone dedicated to the pizza end of things--considering how nicola takes care of every single dish that comes out of the kitchen, i can't see how the quality could have been kept consistent with that split attention before kyle came in. maybe you still won't like it, but you can't blame the guy for trying :-)
FYI - the "Parmesan-style cheese" is pecorino romano. Joe the owner told me that's what they've been using since the 60's.
Suprema's my fave in the area for sure. the upside down or marinara sicilian pies, fresh out of the oven, are killer. Ed Levine, you were the one to tell me about this place via your pizza book. i've been eating here since i read it in '04. thank you!
thanks for the comment.
I didn't take a cheap shot at the VPN, and I haven't read a similar disclaimer on Slice like you mention in a while. i have nothing personal against VPN; as i wrote, they did much to elevate general public standards for taste in pizza. after eating at so many of these places, i'm simply tired of people trying to cash in on a formula and doing a mediocre job at it, which happens with any trend. i think you would be too.
it's anti-VPN because the pie does what VPN tries to do without hewing to its specific criteria. they use high gluten flour, something not necessarily VPN. the pizza cooks for 2 minutes, which is definitely outside VPN bounds. I can go on, but you see what i mean. the point is, pizzeria's don't have to spend the time and money to get VPN certification to produce a stellar neapolitan style pie - it just needs a person dedicated to maximizing what he's given to do something that transcends the trend. and this pie definitely does that.
@pizzalove - sorry to hear. have you been there recently? those flavors are out of this world.
@harrison Ah'Pizz is great, read my review on them. they give VPN a good name. you gotta try this place ASAP though, it's a true original thanks to the sourdough crust amongst all the other factors i mentioned. just sayin'! make sure you make a reservation before you go, and call ahead to see what pizza specials they have so they could make it for you.
yo paulie - thanks for your comment. they really deserve this, i don't think i even did it justice. i didn't get to meet pasquale, but nicola was a real kidder and a pleasure to meet. next time i go, i'm definitely going to try the non-pizza items, they all looked fabulous.
why was my name used on that image without my consent?