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Daily Slice: Pizza Rosa at Palermo, 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.
It's easy to dismiss Los Angeles' pizza heritage. Before Mozza, before CPK, before delivery chains, red leather booth Italian joints were baking enticing pizzas throughout the Hollywood area. The best of which (and they are few) have endured to this day.
Palermo Restaurant, in Los Angeles' Los Feliz neighborhood, is one of the better examples of local pizza history. The current location, which opened in 1979 after a three year stint on Hillhurst Avenue, offers standard red sauce Italian dishes; all of which are not worth consideration. Only one item is a must have: the Pizza Rosa (med $11.25/large $16.45).
The essence of the Pizza Rosa far surpasses its straightforward ingredients. Enveloped under a light sheen of grease and a white blanket of bold and briny feta, nutty Parmigiano and stringy mozzarella set the flavor stage. Rich tomatoes keep everything supple and sweet on the thick, oily focaccia-like base. This pizza is as bready as it looks, but the crust balances the salty, sharp sweetness of the toppings.
When this combination is done by anyone else, it's simply not a Pizza Rosa. You know what I mean. It is unique in the same sense that only your grandmother can make perfect matzoh ball soup, or when you know the secret ingredient of your favorite this or that, but it's just not the same when you make it at home. Such is the nature of the Palermo's Pizza Rosa. Its allure continuously draws in locals (and draws back Los Feliz expats like me) for a thick slice of Los Angeles history.
Palermo Ristorante Italiano1858 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (map)
About the author: After nearly a decade in Brooklyn, Kelly Bone landed back in Los Angeles where she writes The Vegetarian Foodie. She spends the rest of her time designing office cubicles... you might be sitting in one right now! Follow her on Twitter at @TheVegFoodie