It's time to get to know our Los Angeles Slice correspondent, Miss Kelly Bone! Whether snapping gorgeous pizza shots for Top This or making her reviewing rounds, Kelly has got all the Slice bases covered in L.A. Let's find out what makes this pizza-loving California girl tick with the hard hitting Pizza Obsessives Q&A treatment.—MS
Alright, let's jump right in. What type of pizza do you prefer?
I love all pizza. Really. But if I had to marry a pizza, it would be Mr. Neapolitan-style.
The Pizza Cognition Theory states that "the first slice of pizza a child sees and tastes ... becomes, for him, pizza." Do you remember your first slice? Where was it from, is the place still around, and if so, does it hold up? On that note, has your taste in pizza evolved over time?
Stage 1: As a kid my ideal of any meal was white bread, cheese and something sweet. My childhood pizzeria, Piece o' Pizza in Mar Vista, CA, provided just that. It's the ultimate ultra pale doughy slice covered in sweet sauce and overly fatty mozzerella... and it's still there! [Hops in car to get a slice at Piece o' Pizza] See, here's a picture:
Stage 2: Growing up, pizza didn't play a huge part in my life, except for a four year love affair with The Cheese Board in college. Then I moved to Brooklyn in 2003. The day I arrived in Brooklyn, I ordered a pie from Ganni's Pizza (652 Myrtle Ave Brooklyn, NY 11205) and continued to do once a week for the next 8 years. It's a crisp but doughy crust drowning in glossy mozzarella and herb-spiked sauce—sort of a grown up's version of Piece o' Pizza.
Stage 3: But the moment I understood pizza was at Motorino in 2008. It was my very first Neapolitan-style pizza. The stereotypical thoughts raced through my mind: It's so small! Too much crust! So puffy! I think it's burnt! There is not enough cheese! Why so wet?
Then I took a bite. I've been an addict ever since.
What's your favorite topping or topping combination?
My favorite is a good tomato sauce. I get REALLY excited when I see vividly red sauce laced with sweet tart tomato pulp. Otherwise, I get pretty pumped over caramelized onions, roasted garlic and honey... er, I guess I have a bit of a sweet tooth.
Where do you go for pizza in your area?
I hit up Sotto as much as I can. But I work a few doors down from Olio, and I'm pretty sure all the employees recognize me by now. I'm also at Ostera La Buca about every other week. For a slice, I'm all about the sourdough crust Sicilian from Pizzanista.
Do you make pizza at home? If so, what recipes do you use?
I reheat leftover pizza all the time, does that count? If I really want homemade pizza, I beg SkyHighGluten to cook for me. That's not to say I don't have plans to learn...
Well, with Top This you're already sorta learning from some of the best! Speaking of Top This, you get to cover some pretty creative topping combinations with that gig. But what's the most unusual pizza you've ever eaten?
I know everyone says this, but can't recall a pizza I've eaten that made me think, "wow, this is weird." Although I don't 'get' penne pizza. Why put pasta on pizza, it always comes out bland. Oh wait, Mr. Pizza! LA is the home to only US outlet of this Korean chain. Their sweet potato mousse stuffed crust, gilded in cheddar cheese, is weird but enticing (remember, I have a bit of a sweet tooth).
As for unusual pizzas I haven't eaten yet, I've never had plantains on pizza and this makes me sad. Also my friend swears by savory strawberry pizza, but I haven't mustered the nerve to special request one at a pizzeria yet. I'd also love to see more places experiment with sauces, like romesco, harissa, and gremolata.
What one thing should NEVER go on a pizza?
As far as I'm concerned, if you can eat it off a pizza, you can eat it on a pizza. Although un-breaded eggplant and smoked mozzarella often disappoint me.
You seem pretty open minded about toppings, then.
Well, the 5 year-old me had a totally different answer. As a kid I once ordered an olive pizza and it arrived with purple kalamatas. I was horrified! I yelled at the waitress that olives are BLACK then accused her of trying to poison me.
Ha! A pizza reviewer in the making. Which brings me to my next question. How did you get your start writing about pizza?
After my pizza awaking at Motorino, I became obsessed with Pizza Moto. I'd eat at Dave Sclarow's mobile wood fire oven once a week at the Fort Green Brooklyn Flea. But once a week wasn't enough. I started ordering 2-3 pies, devouring one on site and neatly stacking the leftovers in Tupperwear containers I kept in my bag. I looked like a crazy lady. It was worth it. Here's a small collection of my Pizza Moto pies. Right after moving to LA in 2010, Serious Eats had an open call for writers. As a huge fan of the site, I applied to every column I could possibly write for. I'd been writing my own food blogging for a while, but could never claim to be a pizza expert. Then Slice editor, Maggie, saw fit to hire me for Top This (thanks Maggie!). My past pizza infatuations prepared me to learn, plus conducting in-the-kitchen interviews for Top This is like jumping into the deep end of pizza reviewing. Now I'm fully obsessed. Luckily for me, everyone loves to talk about pizza.
What's the farthest you've traveled for pizza?
Specifically for pizza: LA to Berkeley for pizza (and English muffins and sticky buns) from The Cheese Board.
Now it's your turn to ask a question...
What do you think of the VPN vs local ingredients debate?
Writing the Top This column, I've gotten my hands on an array of ingredients. More than once I've found myself in a VPN verses local ingredients debate. VPN pizzas are divine—Pizza e Vino is one of my favorite pizzerias in Southern California—but when it comes down to it, I have to agree: It is counter intuitive to import ingredients from Italy when comparable ingredients are available within our state. This is especially true in California.
Mozza is pizza! It drives me crazy when people--especially chefs--try to tell me it is not.
Anything else you'd like to get off your chest?
Mozza is pizza! It drives me crazy when people—especially chefs—try to tell me it is not. As Nancy Silverton said in The Mozza Cookbook, they then think "it's their job to educate us—or me—as to what "real" pizza is." Just as some declare Chicago deep dish a "casserole," these naysayers insist Mozza is a "flatbread." (Example: The comments on this thread.)
Pizzeria Mozza's pies may have the qualities of a good bread, but flat it is not. Crafted from the artisanal bakery tradition, the bulging cornicione of blended flours crisped under a wash of fruity olive oil doesn't fall into a long-established pizza classification. It's an emerging style, give it the respect it deserves.
Also, anyone who says: "(Your city's) pizza sucks, trust me, I'm from the New York" is an idiot.
I say that because I used to be one of them. But when I approached LA with an open mind and an empty belly, I discovered I was previously being prejudice. The pizza here can be fabulous. Sure there is a lot of crap, but that's true in every city. Los Angeles has come a long way since CPK. The artisan bakery style, represented by Mozza, Milo + Olive, even Pitfire is an LA innovation! I know the east coast is clamoring for a Pizzeria Mozza. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be covering the LA pizza scene right now.
Who would you like to see interviewed next?
Since I'm on a Los Angeles rant: Zach Pollack of Sotto or Zoe Nathan of Milo + Olive.
And finally, I have to ask, what do your friends and family make of your pizza madness?
Everyone always asks: don't you ever get sick of pizza? I don't. Honestly. No one knows this, but sometimes I sneak a slice before a non-pizza dinner just to satiate the craving.
I, for one, can find no fault in that. And I think your undying love for pizza comes through in the enticing descriptions and photos you bring to Slice! Thanks for taking a turn in the hot seat. It's been a real pleasure.