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Daily Slice: Pizzeria Il Fico, Los Angeles
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
After 5 minutes of sitting at Pizzeria Il Fico's bar—which coincidently has a perfect view of their olive and almond wood burning oven—I texted my friend, "I haven't even tried the food yet, but I love this place!" Why the enthusiasm? On this ritzy strip of Roberson Blvd it's rare to find a restaurant with such ease and friendliness. Open for just a few weeks, it has been a neighborhood joint from day one.
Pizzeria Il Fico is the newest venture of Los Angeles' favorite Pugliese chefs, Nicola Mastronardi and Giuseppe Gentile of Vincenti Ristorante. Though renowned for their fresh pastas and mastery of the wood fire oven, the chefs imported a pizzaiolo directly from Puglia to train Il Fico's staff—he'll remain at the oven's helm for the next month.
I ordered the La Campana con Bufala e Basilico: Cherry Tomatoes, Bufala Mozzarella and Basil ($18). Bright red succulent tomatoes covered the face of the pie's gooey base of bufala. Strings of mozzarella clung to every slice. A sprinkle of chopped basil gave each slice a gentle herby air. Their small pots of fresh chilies in olive oil is a highly recommended addition to any of their pizzas.
The pie was spot-on in terms of topping balance, but at this price it should be outstanding. With a little more attention to cultivating the yeast and salt content of the dough, Il Fico will hopefully reach their full potential.
After such a light pizza, I still had room for dessert. So, at the behest of magnanimous owner John Tierney, I indulged in the Pizza Fragole E Crema Con Scaglie Di Cioccolato, a sweet pizza with strawberries and cream with shaved dark chocolate ($10). It was a perfect balance of faintly sweet and gentle fruity tartness atop dough that was notably crisper then the savory pie. Inquiring what differentiated these two crusts, Chef Giuseppe Gentile joined me at the bar and let me in on his oven strategy. While the savory pies cook deep inside the 700-800 degree oven for 60 seconds, he keep the dessert pies near the oven's mouth, cooking slowly for up to 4 minutes.
Despite the overall bland crusts, Pizzeria Il Fico is quickly becoming a favorite in Los Angeles. The quality of the toppings are apparent and the staff is superb. But most of all, unlike most restaurants in Beverly Hills, the food is clearly cooked with love.