'Los Angeles' on Serious Eats
Zagat recently named Michael's Pizzeria in Long Beach one of the highest-rated pizzeria in the country. We went to see how it stacked up and ended up wondering: Is this new rash of best-of lists hurting or helping the promotion of truly great pizza?
Shimmering sunshine and a lazy ocean breeze drifts through Simmzy's open walled dining room. One whiff of the sea salty air—plus a pint—will draw anyone into the endless summer that is Long Beach's Naples Island. That laid back attitude stops at the glass window into the kitchen. Each dish is a carefully calibrated assemblage of otherwise casual ingredients. On the pizza menu, the Arugula Salad Foldover stands out as the best of the bunch.
After a long, long night, I found myself on Hollywood Boulevard, desperately craving a slice. I randomly chose one of the area's plentiful slice joints and met one of the worst pizzas I've ever had. So, what's a girl to do? I set out to find what (if anything) the Boulevard has to offer in the way of pizza.
The air sizzled with anticipation leading up to Bestia's opening last November. Time has not tempered the excitement. Any non-6 p.m. or 9:45 p.m. reservation must still be made one month in advance. Since the early days, dinner at Bestia has been splendid. As the kitchen tightens up and recipes get tinkered with, the food—specifically the pizza—gets better and better.
Pitfire Artisan Pizza's seasonal Eggplant Parmesan pie may sound like heavy comfort food, but the LA pizzeria takes a lighter approach to the hefty nightshade. At the base of the pie are translucent sheets of grilled eggplant, aubergine skin peeking out from beneath the blanket of blistered cheese and sweet cherry tomatoes. Executive Chef Andrew Lakin walks us though the making of this summery pizza.
In March, an odd and unused window on the side of The Churchill took on new life, as the food and cold-pressed juice purveyor, Clover Takeaway, set up shop. Tucked away at the bottom of their menu is the NYC Cheese Pizza Slice, at a tempting $2.00—a steal given the talent and ingredients on hand in The Churchill's kitchen.
Union Pizza Company's The Village deep dish pizza is loaded with pepperoni, Italian sausage, smoked ham, sautéed mushrooms, thick sauce, and a pound of cheese. Owner Bruce Markoe pays special attention to the meats, with a technique that ensures his pie stays crisp and light. Well, as light at a five pound pool of pizza can hope to be.,,
At LaRocco's Pizzera, the Spinaci e Pomodoro highlights fresh produce. The baby spinach leaves and halved cherry tomatoes are lightly touched with heat, drawing out flavor while retaining their vibrant color. This pizza takes full advantage of residual heat, gentling wilting the leaves and transforming the fruit into warm cherry tomato bombs.
Oh, what a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, Village Pizzeria was one of LA's top shops. Today, it's barely discussed in pizza circles. But did it change or did we? We returned after a long sabbatical to find out for ourselves.
Praise continuously falls upon Olio Pizzeria & Cafe. Its popularity among the masses is shared by the media—it was ranked the 3rd Best Pizzeria in LA by LA Weekly and named a Critic's Choice in the LA Times. Then again, we Slice'rs—who study pizza day in, day out—take such popularity with a grain of salt. In Olio's case, though, the acclaim is entirely deserved.
"Variety's the very spice of life," says William Cowper and all your cliché filled friends. At Los Angeles' The Pizza Studio, variety may not be the spice of your life, but it is the key to pleasing a lot of people and selling a lot of pizzas.
Sweet potato mousse crust? Check. Crab, bacon, salsa, and blue cheese dressing on the same pizza? Double check. What about cookie dough crust? You betcha. That can only mean one thing: We went to Mr. Pizza so you wouldn't have to. You're welcome.
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 hang out. I nodded my head politely even though I though the environment seems too upscale for this. I was wrong.
Partners Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joe Bastianich have made quite the splash in L.A.'s restaurant scene since opening Pizzeria Mozza in 2007. Now, the trio is getting ready to open new branches in San Diego and New York.