Which Will You Choose?
800 Degrees offers a variety of pizzas, from a basic Margherita to whatever your heart desires. Be it prosciutto and arugula, Bianca with truffle cheese and bacon, or (my personal favorite) long-stemmed Italian artichokes and pignolis. Tried and true specialty pies are also available, such as the $7 Piccante (soppressata, garlic and Calabrian chilies) or the $10 Napoletana (anchovies, shrimp, capers, garlic and oregano).
The pizza starts with 9 ounces of Neopolitan-style dough, made with flour, salt, water, and wild yeast. The wild starter originated in Italy and was purchased from a yeast collector (what an awesome job). The recipe was developed by Chef Carron and is inspired by his favorite pizza places in Naples. The dough is made the night before with a 12 hour room temp fermentation. The flour is currently Antimo Caputo 00, but 800° is currently testing an organic version.
Red or White
Diners choose from three bases: Margherita ($6), Bianca ($5), or Marinara ($5). The tomatoes are Cristoforo Colombo whole peeled tomatoes, milled by hand, from Escalon. They are California-grown "San Marzano Style." The sauce is—as Adam Flichment put it—Umami-ed with a “few secret ingredients to make it more savory.” Each pizza (except the Marinara) gets a full 4 ounce ball of Di Stefano mozzarella, and almost every pie gets a dusting of dried Italian oregano and large leaves of fresh basil.
Into the Fire
The customized pies are fired at 800 degrees for 60 seconds in one of the olive-wood ovens. When asked about his selection of oven, Chef Carron explained he chose Woodstone for its monolithic, cast-ceramic floor.
Something Pretty to Look at
Posted over the assembly-line counter, the straight forward menu is cleanly explained on bold black posters. The soaring subway tiled walls are adorned with columns of vintage pizza box, reproductions, and dark stained wooden peels.
Don't Skip the Salad Bar
The salad bar is not to be overlooked. For $5 a plate, you can order Burrata with Beets and Balsamic, Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto, or Eggplant Caponata and Pinenuts. Or get fancy with Burrata, Prosciutto and Melon for $11. A variety of $4 salads are also available, like a “prefect” Caesar or the Gorgonzola with butter lettuce, walnuts, and dried cranberries. Honestly, this is my favorite part of the entire restaurant.
For dessert, 800 Degrees offer gelatos by LA Creamery for $2.5 a scoop. Current offerings include chocolate ganache, Sicilian pistachio, biscotti cookies and cream, Madagascar vanilla, mixed berry and tiramisu. Pistachio and tiramisu were the clear crowd favorites on my visit.
Overall, the crust appears pale and smells of white flour without a tart ferment of similar pizzas. The leopard-spotting is moderate and the dense hole structure has a nice chew. The undercarriage has moment of rich brown char—reminiscent of a flour tortilla—and quickly looses it crispiness on wetter pies. But, considering the price, it’s a quality crust.
The Final First Word
The sauce, being the "Umami-ed" element, is surprisingly mellow and tends to get lost under the robust toppings. The mozzarella is somewhat dry, especially compared to the luscious milky burrata. A few toppings didn't go over well, like the rather bland butternut squash. But the many others were outstanding, like the soft crispness of the artichokes or the savory saltiness of the Sicilian anchovies. With quality pizza at these prices, any criticism is just being picky. Aficionados will be underwhelmed, but this is pizza for the people, and 800 Degrees is doing the people right. There is little doubt that 800 Degrees will be an immediate success.