Wow, never thought id say that! LA...Los Angeles, a pizza heaven...2 recent openings promise to really make LA pizza-safe for me. last week i went to South End, a pizzeria and wine bar, recently opened by by friend,Mario Vollera, whom I met while he was maitre d' and occasional pizzaiolo at Peppe Miele's now shuttered VPN Antica Pizzeria, the HQ for VPN Americas. I was shocked to learn that he was using a gas oven, albeit one that's cranked up to 650 degrees. It was a great pie, forgot the name but it had onion, very spice house made sauseeege, house made mozz on a very thin yet bready crust similar to Mozza, no surprise since ex Mozza man, Frank Fermin is the principal owner(i think). A great addition to the Venice/MDR area....Just as interesting is the news that, after a long delay, the furthest western outpost of Grimaldi's just opened in El Segundo, of all places...though the Scottsdale branch I first ate in years ago was good, it was a disappointment because of my "great expecations." I had already eaten at the Vegas branch and it was fantastic...I ate a large marg w/sausage by myself for lunch then ordered a 2nd pie for the drive back to LA! Im hoping pizza in El Segundo will be a joyous experience. I'll report back thursday! oh yeah, this aint the LA i arrived in 20 years ago...Amen!
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.
So, Ive ben eating Neapolitan style pizza for nearly 15 years and, as much as I love it, theres no denying it should be eaten straight outta the oven...Nevertheless, the pizzeria that has made a fairly recent splash for its quality and price ratio, 800 Degrees, has announced theyre opening a take-out branch in their Westwood Village barrio...Im assuming it will be the same Neapolitan style pies so how will this shake out?
Just got the news on Chowhound that Grimaldi's is planning on a late spring 2013 opening near LAX...though i havent been to the Patsy's/Grimaldi's in several years, and had never had anything but a delish pie there, i am thrilled at this news...I didnt have an inspiring visit to one of their earlier branches, Scottsdale, but 2 visits to Vegas were great pie experiences! If they bring their "A" game, theres nothing like that pizza here in SoCal!
the LA Weekly food section is devoted this week to pizza in LA...heres a controversial(to some) list of pie joints and more! Lance, Kelly...thoughts? they pick Sotto #1!
Made a return trip to the California Gold Country and Yosemite and had dinner twice at Robert Martin's VPN certified, The Prospector, in Twain Harte. 2 years ago i sampled 3 different pies, all of which were excellent. This time the pies were as awe inspiring as the granite face of Half Dome, at least if you really love pizza.
Martin's restaurant moves indoors during the winter, which means seating for about 15. We got there at the 5pm opening and ordered a margherita and a sausage pie. Home made mozzarella, house cured pork, California grown plum tomatoes, a splash of extra virgin olio and Caputo flour all made for flavor explosions in the mouth.
The crust had the perfect outer crunch and inner chew. Nice sized and spicy, juicy sauseege chunks. Heaven!!!!!!
We tried the home made gnocchi. I loved the chewy pasta texture. Mmmm!
Martin offers a small number of changing daily specials and an excellent wine selection. And ya just can't help love watching the intensely passionate approach Martin takes in cooking and running his culinary dream, in which he is ably assisted by his lovely wife and daughter.
This foothill region of rolling hills and oaks, about 90 minutes from the grandeur of the Yosemite, is a perfect getaway from SF or LA, especially for the pizza freaks out there!
Having been disappointed by the "hype" so often in the past, I was a little late checking this pizza out. But lemme tell y'all: there's great pizza at the very kool Milo and Olive on Wilshire nr 26th st. Owned by the people who brought Westsiders Rustic Canyon and Huckleberry, Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb, this place is cozily mall and friendly, with the heat from their wood-burning oven softening the winter chill. OK, not really much of a winter chill out here but it can get a little nippy in winter. Anyway, its an organic, whole wheat flour that gives the pizza crust that rustic bread crunch and chewability. The cheese, sourced locally from Gioia Cheese, same as Mozza. And a delicious crumbled pork belly sausage made for a transcendent pizza moment. Hey Kelly, get over there, you'll love it...only one meat topping and many veg choices...Whoopppeeee!
After reading this tidbit of Slice themed news, i could only think...they both shouldve burned down...
In what was once a barren pizza wasteland, news of a pizza oasis like Antica closing would be cause for me to get out the straight razor. Mercifully, Antica will reopen in months but until then Sotto will clearly be my default pizza option. Its considerably more convenient for westsiders(its located at 9575 Pico Blvd just west of Roxbury) than Mozza, though Mozza2Go is a godsend. And while it may fall a bit short of Nancy Silverton's transcendent doughy spheres, chefs Zach Pollack, the pizzaiolo, and Steve Samson, formerly of Pizza Ortica, sent me and regular Slice poster,Lance Roberts, home very satisfied today. We shared a Margherita(natchally) and a sausage, broccoli,mozz and chiles pie. Perfectly leopard spotted crusts, puffy corniciones and uber-flavorful toppings plastered a serious smile on my face while destroying another diet. A generous pour of extra virgin olive oil topped both pies. The fennel flecked sausage seemed a bit too pink but the taste burst forth with each bite, and the crusts actually held up quite well to the toppings' weight. Friendly and efficient lunch time service to boot guaranteed one very well spent afternoon. I will return...and soon! just wish i could upload a foto here...
Is it true? DiFara's young spawn opening in Vegas, then LA...
OK, Im not going to antagonize my Chicago pizza lovin brothers and sisters by revisiting the issue of deep dish's identity(Is it really pizza? blah, blah,blah!) However, the broadcast tonite of Tony Bourdain's visit to Chicago's Burt's Pizza pushed me over the line.Sorry, although I am admittedly a bit OCD regarding kitchen cleanliness, usually, I can control myself but there are times when, regardless of quality, one must speak out against outrages and Burt's beard, which reminds me of Marx and Whitman's facial hair, has no place in a kitchen. Good God, theres no way that disgusting pile of hair should be dangling over any food. Call the Health Dept!
The Neapartisanal pies that have emerged in the Bay Area represent an American re-interpretation of classic Italian pies and evidence new ways to successfully build off of established, traditional techniques. And, oh, what options there are! So many, that limiting this list to just eight seems a crime, but you have to draw the line somewhere.While there are many, many worthy pies in and around San Francisco, here are some of the most memorable ones that we've tried to date.
Click me bigger! [Every Day with Rachael Ray] Some of you may have seen the stuff on the various Grub Street blogs, the Eater blogs, Village Voice/Fork in the Road, on the Chicago Tribune's Stew blog, in the New York Post, etc. The news that Rachael Ray has found the best pizza in the country. Yes and no. Every Day with Rachael Ray *magazine,* for the March issue, pegs a best-pizza-in-the-country story to college basketball's March Madness. The story will feature a 64-entrant mad-good-pizza bracket. I'm told that subscribers should be getting theirs as early as today; the issue...
My hard copy of Steven A. Shaw's circa-1999 "Pizza Guide," printed out on November 7, 2001. After an almost eight-year absence, the guide is once again available on eGullet. If you're a longtime Slice reader, you've heard bits of this site's origin story (ad nauseam) over the years. In a nutshell, when I first moved to New York City in the summer of 2000, I ate pizza almost every day for six months or so. I was broke, it was cheap, and, well, like I needed an excuse to go nuts here in Pizza Mecca. At first, all the...
This gift guide is for the New York food lover. Recipients can be New York expats or those who've never actually lived in the city but have come to appreciate quintessential Gotham foods. This year we've added a Brooklyn element, since there are so many skilled bakers, picklers, and cheesemakers opening shops and popping up at neighborhood farmers' markets, contributing to the budding artisan food scene in the borough.
Editor's note: Today, Chuck K., a New York expatriate living on the West Coast, drops by with intel on the outpost of Joe's Pizza that opened in Los Angeles. Buon appetito, friends! —The Mgmt. Step right up! Get your honest-to-goodness, 100 percent original New York-style pizza. Whether it's Tony's, Johnnie's, Frankie's, or Vito's, Los Angeles pizza purveyors love to claim New York authenticity in their pies. Not long ago, an establishment in Marina Del Rey killed whatever optimism I had left for "New York-style" pizza around L.A. At this nameless place, the crust tasted like a ream of loose-leaf paper,...
In my pizza book, A Slice of Heaven, the last chapter was devoted to the "Keepers of the Flame," people whose dedication and single-minded devotion to making great pizza made them worthy of inclusion in what could have been called the Pizzaiolo Hall of Fame. Today, I induct Brian Spangler of Apizza Scholls into this hallowed society.
Pizza wars, once confined to New York, now rage in Los Angeles. New York's dough-slinging gladiators, DeMarco, Grimaldi, and Mangieri, have their counterparts here in Joe and Vito, of their own respective eponymous pizzerias. L.A. food bloggers, like their New York brethren, get rather emotional over pizza, which strikes me as odd since I've yet to taste pizza in L.A. (except for Mozza) worth getting especially excited about. Nevertheless, on the web locally, and on Slice, pizza freaks have slammed Joe's for uncharred crust, insipid sauce, and unhelpful and discourteous service. One gourmand opined that Vito's "is genius ......
Trembling like a teenager in anticipation of his first kiss, I got in my car and headed in an easterly direction on the Santa Monica Freeway. Unlike a teenager, however, I was anticipating that Bollini's Pizzeria, out in Monterey Park of all places, would satisfy my now desperate craving for great pizza. Up till now, every pizzeria that has been touted as awesome here in California has left me seriously disappointed. Nevertheless, the hype about Bollini's fired my hopes. Signor Christiano Bollini, born and bred in Monterey Park, a predominantly Chinese suburb of Los Angeles, had trained in Naples,...