Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
A year and a half ago, I sat at the counter of Pizzeria il Fico, as eager owner/partner John Tierney waxed on about turning this little slice of Robertson Blvd. into a neighborhood hangout. I nodded along politely, even though I thought the environment seemed too upscale for his scheme.
I was wrong.
Pizzeria il Fico has steadfastly endured. Never clamoring for top billing in the Los Angeles pizza scene, although some critics may disagree, Nicola Mastronardi and Giuseppe Gentile deliver a steady stream of high-quality pies to complement their excellent pastas. The restraint of their southern Italian-style pizza feels more familiar and casual in Los Angeles, where many people still consider Neapolitan pizza a "new" thing.
The current Special Pizza ($20) is topped with mozzarella, taleggio, porcini mushrooms, dollops of ricotta cheese and puddles of white truffle oil. The price sounds steep, but this pizza makes up for it in size. The heavy plate holds a very full 12" pie; more than one person should eat in a sitting (not that I didn't manage to eat the whole thing myself).
On earlier visits, the pizzas shone beautiful from above, but were pale and over-floured underneath. While the menu has barely changed over the last year and a half, the kitchen has clearly honed their wood-fire oven skills. The crust, crisp from top to tip, is covered in brown spots; tiny bubbles are littered along the edge. The dough tastes young, with the clean flavors of water and flour easily detected beneath the dry base of mozzarella and taleggio. Moist morsels of ricotta and porcini mushrooms float on top, buttressed by the scent of white truffle oil. The combination managed to be at once subtle and hardy, elevated by a drizzle of chili-spiked olive oil.
Pizzeria il Fico does not rank among LA's greatest pizzerias. They serve up an everyday pie—perhaps the best* in walking distance from itself—served in a chic, neighborhood joint. It's exactly what they set out to be.
*Although Madeo is a contender