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.
The intensely expanding restaurant scene in Downtown Los Angeles has offered little to the pizza lover. Soleto Trattoria & Pizza Bar—with an approachable "non-chef driven" menu —has been loudly serving generous happy hour tapas while quietly serving a well-crafted, very chef-driven, pizza.
Executive Chef Sascha Lyon plays it coy. But he knows his pizzas are superior to most Italian restaurants—made evident when I discovered Peter Reinhart's American Pie is essentially mandatory reading in his kitchen.
The Skinny Pie ($11) is billed as the 'healthy' choice. Perhaps it skimps in fatty content, but there is no dearth of flavor. With a rich layer of ultra pulpy sauce, sweet roasted tomatoes, dollops of ricotta and a haphazard scribble of pesto, it's my favorite of the menu. Oddly, my bartender commented "it's amazing how great that pizza is, even without cheese." I stared at him blankly, because as you can see, it has plenty. But he's right about one thing, this is a great pie, no thick blanket of mozzarella necessary. Each bite is punctuated by the concentrated tang of the roasted tomatoes; their tart caramelized edges beckon you back for another slice. The ricotta tempers the bold tomatoes slightly, and the pesto does absolutely nothing except look funny.
The dough is mild, with only the faintest hint of fermentation, but the texture is outstanding. The shell shatters, revealing a pale chewy core, reminding me of the pies at Ragazza. The bulbous crust is covered with millions of tiny crisp bubbles—often the sign of a rich olive oil wash—yet this pizza doesn't create greasy fingertips.
The massive gas powered Wood Stone oven—inherited from the previous tenet, Zucca—anchors the rear interior of the dining room. The oven's temperature hovers in the mid 600s and the pizzas bake for approximately 5 minutes. I've yet to see anyone eating at the pizza bar, so the best seat in the house is always open.
Soleto Trattoria & Pizza Bar801 S Figueroa St Los Angeles, CA 90017 (map)
213-622-3255; innovativedining.com/restaurants/soleto 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