Pizza! From Fragrant Fennel Sausage to Crisp Pepperoni, Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms, Peppers and Beyond, Square or Round. A Pizza Journey: Steel Pan, La Morra, Quarter Sheets, Gra, Little Coyote, Prince St., Mozza and More! [Thoughts + Pics]

If there is one dish that evokes a sense of happiness upon its mention, it might very well be Pizza. The lovely comfort food of baked dough with various toppings, a just-made, piping-hot Pizza when you’re hungry is one of life’s great joys. :slight_smile:

One would think that during the pandemic, this comfort food would be very popular, and that Pizza specialists around the city and country would be surviving and thriving. But sadly, 2020 took a huge toll on the Pizza scene around So Cal, losing two of our all-time greats (but one having just re-opened in 2021), and other former stalwarts suffering as well.

We figured it was time to take a Pizza Journey to see the state of Pizza during the pandemic.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprise trends in 2020 was the rise of the Square / Rectangular Pizza, mainly Detroit-Style Pizza, but some other alternate Square/Rectangular Pizzas as well.

Prince Street Pizza (West Hollywood)

One of the big openings for Pizza locally was the arrival of Prince Street Pizza from New York. Per their website, they are the “Home of the SoHo Square”, and their Pepperoni Pizza has attracted lots of views for the eye-catching “grease chalices” (Pepperoni Cups). I’ve never tried Prince Street Pizza in New York, so I can’t compare how it tastes to the original, but I was excited to see what the hype was all about.

When we arrived there was a line of about 15 people (socially distanced), and thankfully everyone was wearing masks. The line moved very slowly, however, and it took about ~45 minutes to get through the line and get our Pizza.

Mercer Margherita Pie (Marinara Sauce, Fresh Garlic, Fresh Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, EVO, Topped with Fresh Basil):

Prince Street offers all of their Pies by the slice (and they’ll reheat them for you), or as whole orders as well. Their Mercer Margherita Pizza is a square slice, and this individual slice came out reheated nice and hot. There was a decent crunchiness to it, and the flavors are classic: Mozzarella, Marinara Sauce, Basil and Garlic. It was tasty, but the Prince Street Square Slice is a bit thick and the globs of Mozzarella does feel a bit overwhelming at times.

Green Machine Pizza (Homemade Pesto Sauce, Shredded Mozzarella, Ricotta and Black Olives):

While Prince Street’s most popular offerings are their square slices / square Pizzas, they do offer their take on Neapolitan Pizzas (round). Their Green Machine Pizza with a Homemade Pesto Sauce, Mozzarella, Ricotta and Olives sounded wonderful. The actual taste is fine. Their Pesto Sauce lacks the aroma and depth of great Pesto Sauces around town, and the crust and execution felt like it was a bit rushed. We liked Pizza Wagon of Brooklyn’s Pesto Pizza a lot more for its flavor.

(Formerly “Madhappy Slice” now known as) Spicy Vodka Pie (Spicy Vodka Sauce w/ Prosciutto, Fresh Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano):

During our visit, the new Prince Street Pizza West Hollywood store was doing a collaboration with the label Madhappy, and this was the result. The promotion has ended, but they’ve kept the same Pizza on the menu now known as the Spicy Vodka Pie. This was interesting:

Essentially a familiar “Spicy Vodka Sauce” (for Pasta) as a topping for Pizza. It was sweeter than what you might expect, with a delicate Tomato flavor but quite creamy, and then Mozzarella and Pecorino flavors coming through. The slice (reheated) was crisped and hot. :slight_smile:

Spicy Spring Pie (Spicy Pepperoni, Fra Diavalo Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano):

It needs to be noted that their ordering system still needs some work: The customer before us and 2 different customers after us got their full Pizzas before our Pepperoni Pizza finally arrived. Opening up the box:

Visually it is stunning! There’s a shock value in seeing this much Pepperoni on top of one Pizza. :open_mouth: :sweat_smile:

However, taking a bite, and the disappointment set in: It was piping hot (we ate this within a couple minutes of getting it direct from their kitchen and made sure to crack open the box to prevent steaming), but the Pepperoni Slice was bready and soggy. :sob: The Pepperoni themselves (as seen in the pics above) were also very thick and soft. It lacked any crispness that some places around town have been known to achieve.

And while it may sound heretical, there’s a such thing as too much Pepperoni and Prince Street Pizza is a prime example of that: Picking up a slice (and seeing the cardboard underneath) it was dripping with grease and oil. :frowning: In fact, only about 10 - 15 minutes in the car (for the leftover slices), and the sheer amount of Pepperoni grease had soaked through the entire thick cardboard Pizza box! :open_mouth: :frowning: It was actually pooling in the box(!).

It appears that ordering by the slice might be the best way to order at this new Prince Street Pizza branch, as the reheating of each individual slice allows the crust to firm up and become crisp and slightly crunchy (great!). The whole Pie (even just a couple minutes right out of the kitchen) resulted in a soft, doughy square Pizza with no crispness whatsoever.

Perhaps the original Prince Street Pizza in New York has better execution, but their lauded Pepperoni Pizza square was a bit of a disappointment (at least in whole Pie form). The Pepperoni were too thick and soft and very greasy. The Red Sauce and overly thick Pizza crust actually made me think of the overwhelming qualities of a too thick Chicago-Style Pizza in some ways.

Prince Street Pizza
9161 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Tel: (323) 446-2244

Dough Daddy

Of the Detroit-Style Pizza wave hitting L.A., Dough Daddy was perhaps the most intriguing from the L.A. Times writeup. Known only as “Dough Daddy” to the general public, this has an almost underground pop-up feel to it, with people interested in ordering needing to follow along on Instagram, follow a variety of exact rules to order and lock in a specific time slot during the following week, and then the pickup location will be given once payment is confirmed.

The Real Deal (Detroit-Style Pie made with 100% Wisconsin Brick Cheese (w/ Pepperoni):

This sounded amazing, and most of the Detroit-Style Pizzas locally aren’t made with Wisconsin Brick Cheese (which is supposedly a key ingredient in the original Detroit-Style Pies in Detroit). We arrived a couple minutes early and the Dough Daddy server brought out our order on time. We cracked open the box immediately to try and minimize any steaming that might happen and then proceeded to try a slice.

Perhaps it was bad luck, but our Dough Daddy Detroit-Style Pizza was mainly… soft and a bit soggy. :cry: There was zero crispiness or crunchiness. :frowning: The Pepperoni Cups were OK, less thick than Prince Street, but still soft (no crispness) and a bit thick. The Wisconsin Brick Cheese had a distinct funk to it (in a good way), different from Mozzarella.

We were glad to have tried Dough Daddy, but not in a hurry to try again. At $38 (+ tax & tip) and with a thick, soggy Pizza crust base, with soft Pepperoni, perhaps this is what authentic Detroit-Style Pizza is like(?), but as is, there are other Pizza offerings we enjoy more around town.

Dough Daddy
https://www.instagram.com/doughdaddyla/

Quarter Sheets Pizza Club

Another of the new wave of Detroit-Style Pizza hitting the region, Quarter Sheets Pizza Club is a pop-up by Chef-Owner Aaron Lindell, who doesn’t take himself too seriously. They bill themselves as “Glendale’s #1 least authentic Detroit-Style Pizza.” :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Polish Yacht Club (Potatoes, Farmer’s Cheese, Bacon, Caramelized Onion, Mozzarella, Lemon Cream, Spring Onion, Black Pepper):

The first thing that stands out is the incredible flavor combination of Roasted Potatoes, Caramelized Onions, Bacon, cut by Lemon Cream, the funk of Farmer’s Cheese and smooth Mozzarella and fragrant Spring Onions. The combination itself seems like a lot, but it works and is delicious! :heart:

But then you get the crust: Crunchy, with an incredible tang from the Sourdough base! This is like a gorgeous, lighter, airy Focaccia. The flavors and the crunchy, toasty crust = joy! :heart:

Pepperoni Pizza (Four Cheese, Red Sauce, Basil):

Quarter Sheets’ version of a Pepperoni Detroit-Style is a delight as well, with a great Housemade Red Sauce, leaning slightly on the sweet side of savory (but not as sweet as Dough Daddy’s, nor the Vodka Sauce Pizza at Prince Street), balanced, and the incredible, mouth-watering deliciousness and crunchiness of their Housemade Sourdough Pizza Crust. :blush:

The one weakness is their Pepperoni doesn’t crisp up and is soft (like Prince Street and Dough Daddy), but has good flavor. A very good Pepperoni square slice if you were in the mood for this style. :slight_smile:

Dark Chocolate Cream Pie (Brown Sugar Whipped Cream):

Quarter Sheets Pizza Club also offers Desserts by House of Gluten, which is helmed by Pastry Chef Hannah Ziskin. The first thing that hits the palate is the silky, light Salted Brown Sugar Whipped Cream, which gives way to an incredible Guittard 70% Chocolate Custard center, and then you get a taste of Pastry Chef Ziskin’s lovely, flaky All-Butter Tehachapi Sonora crust. The Dark Chocolate Curls just make it even better. :heart: A fantastic Dessert!

2nd Visit:

Pepperoni Pizza (Four Cheese, Red Sauce, Basil):

On this 2nd visit, Chef Lindell’s Pepperoni Pizza is as consistently delicious as the 1st visit: The soft, but zesty Pepperoni adds a good porky meatiness to a great balanced Red Sauce, fragrant fresh Basil, perfectly melted Mozzarella and that outstanding Sourdough Focaccia-style Pizza Crust! :heart:

Golden Fleece Pizza (Black Olives, Whipped Feta, Mozzarella, Red Sauce, Onion, Oregano (+ Spicy Lamb Sausage):

The new Golden Fleece Pizza is unique in its flavor combination, with the bold Olives and Whipped Feta Cheese being at the forefront. There’s some Feta funk, and a light bitterness and umami quality from the Olives used here. The Pickled Peppers add a touch of piquant, and then the excellent Red Sauce, Mozzarella and Lamb Sausage help to restore some balance to this wild Pizza. The Sourdough Crust is once again crunchy and piping hot toasty. :blush:

Of the square / rectangular Pizza specialists we’ve tried so far on this journey, Quarter Sheets Pizza Club has stood out with a fantastic crunchy Sourdough crust / base and some unique flavors (in addition to the traditional Pepperoni). Chef Lindell’s “least authentic Detroit-style Pizzas” really shine here, and quickly became one of our favorites so far. We can’t wait to see what he’s planning next.

Quarter Sheets Pizza Club
Check on Instagram for Order Details:
https://www.instagram.com/quartersheets/

Steel Pan Pizza

Steel Pan Pizza was another small upstart that we almost lost during the pandemic: They were closed for almost half a year, but thankfully found a new home to move to inside the new Rodeo 39 Public Market.

Steel Pan Pizza specializes in Detroit-Style Pizza as well, but they were one of the earlier adopters locally. One nice touch is that Steel Pan focuses on individual-sized Detroit-Style Pizzas (~$10), which is more affordable (than committing to ~$40 - 50 for a large entire sheet at many other places).

The Veggie Pizza (Mushrooms, Grilled Broccolini, Bell Peppers & Onions):

This was our 3rd visit to Steel Pan Pizza’s new location (our 6th visit overall), and the first bite is as consistently lightly crunchy and airy as it was during our 1st visit 2 years ago. :blush: This was delicious, with Roasted Mushrooms, Grilled Broccolini, Roasted Onions and Bell Peppers adding a melange of vegetal aromas and delicate flavors with the piping hot lovely cheesy topping and crisp-crunchy square crust. :heart:

Steel Pan’s “The Vegan” is essentially the same as this version except it’s 100% Vegan, using their own Housemade Cashew Cheese, which leans more creamy than cheesy, but still delicious. An excellent Vegan Pizza. :slight_smile:

Cuppy 'Roni Pizza (Pepperoni Pizza with Crispy Cupped Pepperonis):

And Steel Pan’s highlight: Their Detroit-Style Pepperoni Pizza is arguably the best Pepperoni square-style Pizza around town. Just look at how perfectly crisped (not burnt) and lovely those Pepperoni are! :heart: Taking a bite…

Lightly crispy Pepperoni, with a nice meaty taste, perfectly complementing the delicious melty Cheese and airy, crunchy Pizza crust! It is glorious and fantastic! :heart: :blush: :heart:

Fries:

A surprising highlight is Steel Pan’s Fries, which arrive just out of the fryer and are perfectly crispy-crunchy. They are as delicious as our first few times trying it. They are a touch on the greasy side (just a touch), but still tasty nonetheless.

It is endearing to see a small operation like Steel Pan Pizza bounce back from shutting down during much of 2020, to find a new home and still churn out some of the best Detroit-Style Pizzas locally. It begins with their incredible airy, light, crisp-crunchy Pizza Crust, much lighter and more enjoyable than some of the breadier versions around town, and continues on to the delicious Veggie and Vegan Pizzas.

But the star on their menu is their incomparable Pepperoni Pizza (Detroit-Style), which was the lightest, crispest Pepperoni Pizza square we tried on this journey.

Steel Pan Pizza
(inside Rodeo 39 Public Market)
12885 Beach Blvd.
Stanton, CA 90680

Superfine Pizza

One of the great losses during the pandemic was the fall of Superfine Pizza. The Takeout Only window from Chef-Owner Steve Samson (of Sotto and Rossoblu fame), Superfine specializes in a hybrid New York-Neapolitan-style Pizza baked in an electric oven.

During the early days, Superfine Pizza quickly launched to be one of L.A.'s top Pizza specialists, putting out some sublime Pies. However during the first visit during the pandemic, we noticed their entire staff had changed. The 2 familiar Pizzaiolos were gone, and it was a whole new staff.

The taste confirmed our fears unfortunately, with their Pizza being completely different from before: Poorly made, flabby, soggy Pizza, lacking any crispness that the OG Superfine had. Asking their staff, they confirmed that the OG Pizzaiolos had left, and one of the staff we spoke with even admitted that they were still learning.

We tried to give them another try with equally abysmal results. :sob: But holding out hope, we wanted to see if they improved a few months later, so here we were again, with a…

3rd Visit During Pandemic (~15th Visit overall):

Pepperoni Slice:

The first 2 visits during the pandemic (after the Pizzaiolos left) were so bad that even the slices were flabby and soggy. This time, the Pepperoni Slice (reheated) came out slightly crisped(!). Which was a huge improvement from the previous 2 visits with the new staff.

However as can be seen in the pics (above), the Pepperoni were slightly charred (the OG Pizzaiolos never had this problem), and for taste? It was tasty, and slightly crisped on the crust, but the ratio of Cheese and Sauce felt off. Still this was decent and actually edible now.

Spinach On White Slice:

This used to be a very good Pizza at Superfine, but on this visit with the new staff, the Spinach On White is a disappointment: Clumpy cheese (look at how leaden the congealed Cheese looks), :frowning: the Ricotta is drowned out and buried beneath the other 3 Cheeses, whereas before the Ricotta’s light creaminess was allowed to shine. The Spinach is also buried in grease and even as a slice (reheated) it wasn’t crisped like the Pepperoni slice was. :frowning:

Still the fact that their Pepperoni slice was crisped up gave us hope that perhaps the new staff were improving, so a few weeks later we returned for a:

4th Visit During Pandemic (16th Visit overall):

As with the other visits, Superfine is being run by an all-new staff of youngsters.

Spinach On White Slice:

We saw the Spinach On White (through the window) and noticed it looked much better than the last visit, so we ordered a slice to see how this one would turn out. Sadly, the taste was still off: It just lacked the balance of the 4 Cheeses and delicate touch that the OG version at Superfine had. The Ricotta was able to be more prominent here (nice), but overall it still felt stodgy and underwhelming compared to the original version. The crust was slightly crisped though.

Veganissima Pizza (Tomato, Garlic, Rapini, Capers, Oregano, Chilies, Mint, Parsley, Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil):

Their Veganissima Pizza was a surprise highlight at Superfine back in the day: Despite it being Vegan, it had an incredible array of flavors that made it standout as a great Pizza even without meat. Today’s version by the new staff was solid: Not as light nor as well-executed as the original Pizzaiolos, but definitely enjoyable. This was a pleasant surprise. :slight_smile:

Pepperoni Slice:

Today’s Pepperoni Slice arrived with a slightly crisped crust again (2 out of 4 now), so that was a relief. The Pepperoni was tasty, but there was still too much Cheese and the ratio felt slightly off. However, as a Pepperoni Slice (reheated), this was getting back to respectability. Not bad.

Whole 18" Pizza - (Half) Queen Margherita + Sausage Pizza (Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil) + (Half) Pepperoni Pizza (Tomato, Cheese, Pepperoni):

The moment of truth: We ordered an entire 18" Pizza to see if the new staff had improved and could execute a whole Pie properly. Initially it looked delicious (above). But then taking a closer look, it was obvious that they had not improved at all:

Attempting to pick up a slice and our fears came true: The Pepperoni and Cheese just slid off the slice. The Pizza crust / slice was completely soggy and oil laden. :sob: Look closely at the pics and you can see the Pizza is swimming in a pool of oil, Sauce and Cheese. :frowning:

And we showed up a good 10 minutes early and the Pizza was handed to us immediately after coming out of the oven (no sitting around to steam in a box).

(Half) Queen Margherita + Sausage Pizza (Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil):

The Queen Margherita with Sausage side was just as bad: Trying to pick up a slice yielded the same results, with the entire slice being floppy and soggy, the Pizza crust was too thin and not cooked enough either. :cry:

The entire Pizza was flat out a huge disappointment. :frowning: It is clear that the new staff haven’t improved much at all, and that only by reheating a flabby slice (so ordering by the Slice) do they partially redeem themselves and are able to get some crispness that the OG Superfine staff executed perfectly on Whole Pizzas and by the Slice, every single time.

I feel for Superfine Pizza. We may never know why the original, brilliant Pizzailolos left Superfine during the start of the pandemic (hopefully they are safe), but Superfine Pizza has suffered greatly because of it. With the new staff, even nearly a year later, Superfine is a shadow of its former greatness. Their Pepperoni Slice and Veganissima Slice seem to be decent and have a bit of crispness, but avoid ordering a whole Pie from them, and for Pepperoni in general there are better options.

Superfine Pizza
1101 San Pedro St., Unit F
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel: (323) 698-5677

Pizzeria Mozza / Mozza 2 Go

Pizzeria Mozza, the standout specialist from Chef-Owner Nancy Silverton, remained one of L.A.'s top Pizzerias since it’s debut for a reason. Some food critics have even called it one of the best Pizzerias in the country. With the pandemic hitting, Chef Silverton had to close down all 3 of her restaurants (Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza and Chi Spacca) for months, and only later on, did they pivot to open up a small outdoor parking lot section for outdoor dining.

But mainly the Mozza group has been surviving by helping out Restaurant Industry workers in need (she offered Free Meals to Restaurant Industry workers that needed it) and by doing a Takeout Menu via Mozza 2 Go.

During a previous Mozza 2 Go visit a few months ago, the vaunted, legendary Pizzeria Mozza Pizzas paled in comparison to their original form (dining in at Pizzeria Mozza, fresh from the wood-burning oven). But we were hoping they might’ve improved over time, so we stopped by during this Pizza Journey for another visit.

Brussels Sprouts Pizza (Brussels Sprouts, Guanciale, Red Onion & Mozzarella):

This new seasonal Pizza sounded like a wonderful combination. Chef Silverton and staff have used Guanciale (Cured Pork Jowl) to great effect in previous years.

We arrived a few minutes early to make sure to minimize any steaming that might happen in the To-Go Box. And this worked out well for the texture:

Lightly crunchy(!), this was almost like the crunchy texture when eating in at Pizzeria Mozza in the Before Times. But it was just a touch denser than before.

However, the unfortunate side effect was the stench from the Roasted Brussels Sprouts. :frowning: Those who’ve cooked Brussels Sprouts at home might have experienced this, with the natural reaction from cooking the vegetables. Usually Chefs are able to mollify the funk with various other ingredients (e.g., Balsamic Vinegar, etc.). But on this new Seasonal Pizza, the Brussels Sprouts are presented naked, as is, and while it does celebrate the Vegetable and the season, it’s unfortunate that the natural odor is so prominent in each bite.

The Guanciale also lacks the deep porcine flavors of Pizzeria Mozza’s previous Guanciale from pre-COVID-19 times (perhaps a different supplier?).

Fennel Sausage Pizza (Fennel Sausage Made In-House, Panna (Cream Base), Red Onion, & Scallions):

One of Pizzeria Mozza’s signature Pizzas from their OG days, the Fennel Sausage Pizza was one of our all-time favorites. Today’s To-Go version is better than the previous visit: There is a slight crunchiness in the crust again (wonderful!), although not as airy and crackling as the dine-in version.

The Pizza is smaller than before, and the Housemade Fennel Sausage is fragrant from the Fennel, but tastes a bit more straightforward than before. Also, the Cheese and Panna combination feels more clumpy than the dine-in version.

Still, with the crust retaining some crunchy texture, this has made for a decent Pie To-Go, but it is nowhere near as good as Pizzeria Mozza dine-in from before COVID.

Pizzeria Mozza / Mozza 2 Go
6610 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tel: (323) 297-1130

Little Coyote

Another pleasant surprise during the pandemic was the opening of Little Coyote. A new Pizzeria helmed by co-owners Jonathan Strader and Jack Leahy, they both met while working at Hatchet Hall. Chef Leahy became Chef de Cuisine at Hatchet Hall and then moved on to be Executive Chef at L&E Oyster Bar.

Pepperoni Pizza (Pepperoni, Mozzarella, Crushed Tomato):

As with our previous visits (this was our 6th visit overall), Little Coyote makes a New York-style Pizza, and they cold ferment their dough. The Pepperoni Cups are beautiful looking. Taking a bite, the Pepperoni remains on the salty side (Little Coyote’s Pepperoni are some of the saltiest versions we’ve had recently), but the Tomato Sauce, and lightly toasted crust (that’s foldable in parts) balances things out. :slight_smile: This is a tasty Pepperoni Slice.

Meatball Sandwich (50/50 Beef & Pork, Crushed Tomato, Mozzarella):

As with our previous visits, the first bite is a breakthrough of lightly crusty Bread from Little Brothers Bakery (Gardena), you get some creamy, luscious melted Mozzarella and their Crushed Tomato Sauce, but then you get a bite of their Housemade 50/50 Beef & Pork Meatballs.

Moist, tender, balanced, not overly salty, really meaty and the total combination is outstanding! :heart:

This remains one of the best Meatball Sandwiches in L.A. right now! :blush:

Whole Pizza - (Half) Veggie Supremo + (Half) Papa Joe:

Veggie Supremo Pizza (Roasted Peppers, Red Onion, Olive, Mushrooms, Mozzarella, Crushed Tomato):

Excellent! :blush: There is something wonderful about having Roasted Peppers, Red Onions, Olives, Mushrooms baked together with melty, luscious Mozzarella and a good Tomato Sauce on a New York-style Pizza crust. There’s a natural sweetness and wonderful aroma from the veggies, and it’s flat out delicious. :heart:

Papa Joe Pizza (Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, Mozzarella, Crushed Tomato):

The Papa Joe Pizza is just as delicious as our previous visits! :heart: Their Italian Sausage and Mushrooms are a classic combination, and the Italian Sausage is much less salty than the Pepperoni. The Mushrooms add a nice earthiness and that delicious savoriness that only Mushrooms can impart. These work better with the Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella.

Little Coyote continues to run a smooth and consistent operation during the pandemic, and their New York-style Pizzas continue to be a highlight for the neighborhood. While we prefer other Pepperoni offerings, Little Coyote’s version is still quite enjoyable. But their Veggie Supremo is a real standout Pizza, as is their Papa Joe. And don’t forget about their Meatball Sub, quite possibly one of the best Meatball Sandwiches in the city right now.

Little Coyote
2118 E. 4th St.
Long Beach, CA 90814
Tel: (562) 434-2009

Gra Pizza

Another newcomer to the L.A. Pizza scene, Gra Pizza surprised us with their Organic Sourdough Pizzas right before the pandemic hit. Thankfully, they are still open (for Takeout Only), situated next door to Clark Street Bread in Echo Park, and we were hopeful their Pizzas were as consistent as before.

Fennel Sausage & Broccolini Pizza (Farmers Market Crumbled Pork Sausage, Cream, Garlic, Shallot Base, Parmesan):

One bite of Gra Pizza’s new seasonal offering and you realize the breadth and depth of the dish known as “Pizza.” On this journey, we started with huge, monster square slices. The thickness and heft of a Prince Street Pepperoni Square Pizza Slice makes the slice of Organic Sourdough Fennel Sausage Pizza from Gra seem like an Amuse-Bouche in comparison. :sweat_smile: It is that different.

Just like our visit to Gra in the early days (pre-COVID), the Organic Sourdough Pizza is by far the lightest and airiest Pizza on this journey. It almost feels “empty” at times (like you’re biting into the toppings with almost no Pizza crust)(!). But there’s a real light tang from the Sourdough base, and a real dainty, delicate quality.

And most importantly, it’s delicious. :blush:

The Fennel Sausage isn’t as herbal as we would’ve liked, tasting mainly like Pork Sausage, but it works well with the Garlic, Shallot, Parmesan and Cream base.

Pepperoni Pizza (Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Pepperoni):

Today’s Pepperoni was a bit rushed it seems. The Pepperoni were charred / burnt on the edges, and there were more burnt marks along the Pizza than our previous visit (which was perfect). Still, even as is, the Pepperoni and Organic Sourdough Crust yielded a wonderful flavor combination, with some of the Pepperoni having a crispy quality to the edges, and a balanced porky flavor (not overly salty, nor greasy). And the Organic Sourdough taste balanced each bite. :slight_smile:

Gra Pizza feels like it’s on the cusp of being great: Their Organic Sourdough Pizzas are by far the thinnest / lightest Pizzas on this journey, and you don’t feel weighed down or heavy after a meal at Gra. If they can sort out their Pepperoni inconsistencies, Gra Pizza feels like a place that would be great for an Appetizer, Salad and Pizza, enjoying a glass of one of their Natural Wines and feel like you had a perfectly light meal in the process.

Grá Pizza
1524 Pizarro St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

https://grá.com/

La Morra Pizzeria

While we recently wrote about La Morra Pizzeria, this larger Pizza Journey would not be complete without a mention and visit to one of L.A.'s shining stars. Helmed by Chef-Owner Zach Swemle and Co-Owner Marlee Blodgett (who runs the front of the house), La Morra was one of the great losses of 2020, having shutdown its pop-up operation and disappearing for months. They changed to doing Frozen Pizzas for delivery to survive, but have now found a new, permanent home to begin baking fresh, hot Sourdough Pizzas to enjoy again. :slight_smile:

Some of their highlights are:

Napoli Pizza (Tomato, Anchovy, Caper, Garlic, Oregano, Chili, Basil, Olive Oil):

Stunning! Ignore the fact that this is a Cheese-less Pizza, as the explosion of flavors are so prominent and delicious that you don’t miss it: Fragrant Roasted Garlic, the wonderfully balanced Housemade Tomato Sauce, a beautiful brininess from the Anchovies, the hit of piquant from the Capers to balance things, and then the aroma of Oregano and Basil, all on the incredible Sourdough Crust! :heart:

There’s a reason the Napoli Pizza has remained as one of La Morra’s permanent Pizzas on their menu since their pop-up days. It is wonderful!

Bianco Pizza (Ricotta, Pickled Guindilla Peppers, Oregano, Garlic, Shallot, Panna):

I still dream about their Bianco Pizza: One of our all-time favorites from their early pop-up days, Chef Swemle’s Bianco is better than ever! The first bite is a beautiful creaminess from the Ricotta and Panna, then a nice slow-burning, tart heat from the Guindilla Peppers, rounded out by Roasted Garlic and Shallots, and that incredible Sourdough Pizza Crust! :heart: :blush: :heart:

One of La Morra’s highlights and one of the best Pizzas in the city!

For this follow-up 3rd Visit to the new location:

Cavolo Rosso Pizza (Tomato, Kale, Garlic, Shallot, Oregano, Chili, Basil, Olive Oil) (Vegan):

Don’t let the fact that this Pizza is Vegan dissuade you. Taking a bite, and you get this incredible burst of flavors: First, the slightly crisped, Roasted Kale (yes, some of it is burnt, but it’s still quite vegetal, and the burnt parts somehow add a smoky bitterness (slight)), then you get this excellent balanced Tomato Sauce, the Garlic, Shallots, Basil and Oregano, some slight heat and tartness from the Pickled Chilies, and quality Olive Oil.

And then you tear into the outstanding Sourdough Neo-Neapolitan crust, with a great light chew, good flavor, and it is magic! :heart:

(Complimentary) Garlic Sauce:

La Morra is now serving their Pizzas with a free side of their Housemade Garlic Dipping Sauce and Pickled Peppers. The Garlic Sauce is ridiculous! Pure Roasted Garlic flavor, concentrated and entrancing. :slight_smile:

(Special) Burrata and Black Truffle Pizza:

Chef Swemle has always talked about a possible Truffle Pizza when the timing and ingredients were right. And while 2020 threw a wrench in La Morra’s original plans, it looks like Chef Swemle was able to finally feature a Black Truffle Pizza, just in time for Valentine’s Day. :slight_smile:

Opening up the To-Go box, and the unmistakable aroma of quality Italian Black Truffles hits your senses. It is wonderfully fragrant and the first bite just adds to the enjoyment:

There’s a good intense scent from the Italian Black Truffles, and it pairs beautifully with the Fresh Burrata Cheese cracked open on the Pizza. The creaminess of the Burrata and the delicate Black Truffles are a great match, and you have the light tang from La Morra’s Housemade Sourdough Pizza Crust.

Absolutely wonderful! :heart:

La Morra Pizzeria has barely settled in to its new home (with a large wood burning oven), but Chef Zach Swemle and Marlee Blodgett are delivering some of the best Neo-Neapolitan Pizzas in the city already. For La Morra to be able to offer many of their OG Pizza menu, and for it to be executed at the same level as the Before Times is a win. The fact that they’re delivering specials now and Chef Zach is able to create new flavors like the sublime Burrata & Black Truffle Pizza is even more encouraging. Hopefully there are even greater, new flavor combinations to come!

La Morra Pizzeria
8022 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, California 90048

And so our Pizza Journey has come to an end. It was fun to be able to see what Chefs and Restaurants are doing with one of America’s favorite comfort foods. The Detroit-Style / Square Pizza trend hitting So Cal is interesting. While Chicago-Style Pizza was found to be too overwhelming by many, Detroit-Style, which is also quite hefty, seems to be welcomed with open arms. :sweat_smile:

Of the square slices, our favorite remains Steel Pan Pizza, which is the lightest and crispest of the various offerings, with Quarter Sheets being the runner-up. Of course, we still mourn the loss of the OG square love that was Il Romanista (Roman-style rectangular slice), or else that would’ve been our top pick.

And for round Pizza, our favorite would be La Morra Pizzeria, finally returned from a long 2020 shutdown in a new home. Their Sourdough Neo-Neapolitan Pies are worth celebrating, and a beacon of hope for other restaurants that might have had to shutter in 2020: That they might be able to return to business as well.

Update 1: Roca Pizza (Revisit without Chef Luigi), U Street Pizza, La Bella Pinseria, Quarter Sheets (Revisit), Steel Pan (Revisit), Pizzeria Sei and more!

Update 2: Japanese Neapolitan-Style at Pizzeria Sei (revisit), DeSano’s tasty Carnevale Pizza, La Morra Pizzeria Pop-up!

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Thank you for the very thorough round-up! It certainly helps me target the ones that were on my list. I am truly (madly) looking forward to La Morra now even more. The only Detroit-ish pizza I have had here so far was Steel Pan and thought they executed quite nicely as well. I may be a fan of thicker pepperoni cups than you, but I thought all their textures were quite nice in the two pies I had. And their fries were nice! The pies and temperament of Quarter Sheets look right up my alley, will try that one next.

If it is of any consolation, the Prince Street Pizza owners in NY were recently outed as the bigots they are… I never lined up on Prince Street either just because I’m not about lines unless they are filled with non-white people (sorry I am somewhat of a bigot too!), haha…

How many people are usually in your eating group? You go through so much food :star_struck:

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Hi @EattheWorldLA,

Thanks! :slight_smile: I think you’d like La Morra. Looking forward to your report if you get a chance to visit.

I’m glad you liked Steel Pan. And that’s totally cool that you like thick Pepperoni! :slight_smile: Definitely give Quarter Sheets a try.

That’s terrible hearing about Prince Street Pizza’s owners. :frowning: As for how many people, it depends on the journey. Prior to the pandemic we’d sometimes have friends of friends and just have a fun excuse to drive around, meet and hang out with lots of people and enjoy food. :wink: That seems like a foreign idea nowadays. :sweat_smile: For this journey we usually had four of us (the other two have been in stay-at-home mode and we socially distanced, split the orders with gloves (or sometimes asked the restaurant to do it) and ate separately in our cars).

I need to try that meatball sub. It’s one of my favorite sandwiches.

Thanks for the heads up!

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Hi @ipsedixit,

Thank you for all the great recs as well. :slight_smile: I hope you enjoy the Meatball Sub.

Oh and I should’ve mentioned “the @ipsedixit effect” happened again:

La Morra was sold out of the Funghi Pizza this weekend! :frowning: They still had plenty of the Black Truffle & Burrata, and all other pies, but not the Funghi. Clearly this is because you recommended it and look what happened! :wink: :stuck_out_tongue: :slight_smile:

Forgive me.

I will learn to keep my mouth shut in the future. :wink:

LOL, no no! j/k. :slight_smile:

We need your recommendations more than ever right now! :blush:

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One of the greatest sentences I’ve read in recent memory.

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Thanks @digga, you are too kind. :slight_smile: Just hoping folks might find something useful from the post.

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Hi @Chowseeker1999 that is a nice round up of pizza! I really enjoy Steel Pan for the square pies. I recently had the square pizza at Prime Pizza in Little Tokyo and thought it was pretty darn tasty. It was no il Romanista, however tasty in it’s own right.

Need to try that meatball sandwich at Little Coyote.

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Hi @A5KOBE,

Thanks. :slight_smile: Yah Steel Pan is definitely a standout. Glad to hear Prime Pizza’s square at their Little Tokyo branch is good these days. They seem to be inconsistent at times, but we haven’t been back since the pandemic started. I’ll have to try it again. :slight_smile:

Definitely try the Meatball Sandwich at Little Coyote. :slight_smile:

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@Chowseeker1999 was Little Coyote doing any outdoor seating when you went? I know LA/LB just went to red tier recently. We loved the pizza at Little Coyote but haven’t been back since they shut down their outdoor seating. The pizza seems more consistent than Superfine based on a lot of reports and Pizza Wagon is too far for us.

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Hi @js76wisco,

Yes! :slight_smile: Little Coyote’s outdoor seating is back. :slight_smile:

And definitely Little Coyote is far better than Superfine currently (which is really sad to hear). We’ve given them 4 additional tries since they went downhill and it’s not really improving (except some Slices that they reheat). The loss of their OG Pizzaiolos really hurt.

If you find yourself in Mid-City LA, consider stopping by La Morra Pizzeria as well (on 3rd Street near Fairfax). :slight_smile:

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Finally went this past weekend! Delicious (we had the bianca). The confection store next isn’t bad (but a bit pricey). The gluten-free cookies are pretty good; skip the pop tart. The cake’s texture is good, but, again, a bit $$$.

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Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

So glad you liked it! :blush: There are a bunch of other flavors at La Morra you need to try next time, but the Bianca was one of my favorites. So good right? :slight_smile:

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Update:

There were some newcomers and new changes for our local Pizzaiolos, so it was time for another Pizza journey. :slight_smile:

Roca Pizza (Revisit)

When Roca Pizza debuted during the pandemic, it marked a joyous time as it was the return of Pizzaiolo Luigi Roditis (Chef-Owner of Il Romanista fame) who had to close his legendary Roman-style Pizza joint due to the lockdown of 2020. But that joy soon turned to sadness as we heard that Luigi had suddenly departed from the new Roca Pizza venture just 1 month after the Grand Opening! :frowning:

We wanted to see how Roca was holding up after his departure.

As before, you walk up and can order by the slice, whatever flavors catch your fancy.

Italian Sausage & Cremini Mushroom Pizza (Housemade Italian Sausage, Cremini Mushrooms, Parmigiano Reggiano, Mozzarella, Red Onion):

pizza3_016

This is still delicious. The flavor combination was pretty faithful to OG Pizzaiolo Luigi’s recipe. A nice balance of porky Housemade Italian Sausage, and the Cremini Mushrooms are a classic combination. The Parmigiano Reggiano and Mozzarella with Red Onions just binds it all together.

The crust was good, but not the perfection that was Chef Luigi’s signature crispy-crunchy back at Il Romanista and during the Grand Opening period when he was making the pies.

Mixed Mushroom Pizza (Cremini, Porcini, Provolone, Mozzarella, Parsley):

One of our other favorites from Chef Luigi before he left, this time it was still fragrant and aromatic from the Porcini and Cremini Mushrooms, but it felt like it was missing the extra touch and balance.

Porcini Mushroom & Potato Pizza (Porcini Mushrooms, Mozzarella, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Parsley):

This was tasty, a bit more on the earthy side with the Yukon Gold Potatoes. The crust was still good, but not great (some crunchiness, but not as sublime as before).

Soppressata & Burrata Pizza (Tomato Sauce, Soppressata, Mozzarella, Di Stefano Burrata, Basil, Parmigiano Oil):

Some nice flavor ideas here, but unbalanced. You can see that the ingredients were a bit more haphazard without Luigi in the kitchen.

Bell Pepper Pizza (Vegan) (Tomato Sauce, Roasted Red & Yellow Bell Peppers, Balsamic Glaze, Basil, EVOO):

Back at Il Romanista, Chef Luigi made some fantastic Vegan Pizza options (no faux meat), and this Bell Pepper Pizza was one of his original creations. This was still pretty close to his recipe, but the crust again was good, but not great.

Pepperoni Pizza (Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Pepperoni):

A classic flavor combination, but interpreted for the Roman-style Square Pizzas here. This was fine.

Asparagus & Goat Cheese Pizza (Asparagus Puree, Asparagus Spears, Mozzarella, Laura Chanel Goat Cheese, Red Onion, Mint, EVOO):

This was tasty, but the Mint didn’t add anything as it was all burnt (see above). This perhaps hinted at the rift between Pizzaiolo Luigi and the new owners of Roca.

Ultimately, our visit to Roca Pizza after Chef Luigi Roditis left showed that he taught their staff well, and they were able to make a reasonble facsimile of Chef Luigi’s legendary Roman squares. They are good, (in fact all of these places we visited were far better than the disaster that is Mother Wolf), but there was a noticeable decline without Luigi in the kitchen.

The biggest difference was in the crust. OG Hounds in the know remember Chef Luigi and Il Romanista’s crispy-crunchy perfection that were in his Roman squares. Roca Pizza without Luigi? About ~75% of the quality that we experienced when he was there. The crust wasn’t as crispy-crunchy, and it felt a touch more dense. Some of the Pizzas felt like the ingredients were unbalanced, some haphazardly thrown on. (@js76wisco @ipsedixit @A5KOBE @paranoidgarliclover @attran99 and all)

And the latest menu has additions that are clearly from the new owners pedigree (as former owners of California Pizza Kitchen), with a BBQ Chicken Pizza and a Thai Chicken Pizza. Knowing that Chef Luigi did not have an amicable split and left this new venture (FYI, he’s currently “retired” from the restaurant business), further sours our experience here at Roca. I can’t really support this restaurant in good conscience and will mourn the loss of one of L.A.'s great Roman Pizzaiolos in Luigi Roditis. :frowning:

Roca Pizza
(Inside the Americana mall at Brand)
769 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210
Tel: (818) 396-5055

U Street Pizza

One of our good friends in Pasadena had recommended we try U Street Pizza, which was the latest endeavor from the same group that runs Union Restaurant (next door). According to our server, U Street Pizza is Executive Chef Chris Keyser’s take on New York-style Pizza, but through California’s produce lens.

Braised Meatballs (Tomato Passata, Ricotta, Fiscalini, Sourdough):

These were hefty, huge Italian Meatballs. The Sourdough helped create a crusty, heartier exterior. These were tasty, but a touch salty.

A-A-RoN Pizza (Provolone, Mozzarella, Guanciale, Red Onion, Mushroom, Oregano, Roasted Garlic):

The ingredients list was drool worthy. The end result? Tasty, but most Pizzas fresh out of the oven, piping hot have an inherent deliciousness factor that’s hard to overlook. :wink: The Guanciale wasn’t as fragrant, nor as deeply porcine as the best Guanciale we’ve had. It was fine. The Mushrooms, Red Onion and Garlic are a great flavor combination, and these all worked great with the Guanciale.

The Provolone and Mozzarella blend felt a bit heavy. The crust on the pizza was a bit straightforward (not as tasteless as Pizzana, but similar): It doesn’t support the ingredients on the pie in the same way our favorite Pizzas do.

2nd Visit:

During Lunch hours, U Street Pizza serves specialty Square Pizzas by the slice, so we were curious how these would turn out.

Juan Carlos Pizza (Black Olives Mushrooms, Fermented Jalapenos, Red Bell Peppers, Muscatel Ranch) (No Ranch):

I asked for one modification - No Ranch Sauce - because I am not a fan of Ranch and seeing it slathered on Pizza? I couldn’t fathom that. :wink: :sweat_smile:

The Juan Carlos square slice was decent. The crust is a bit stodgy. It’s not a Detroit-style square (which is all the rage across So Cal still), but it wasn’t a Roman-style square either, like Il Romanista / Roca, etc. The Fermented Jalapeno still had plenty of kick, adding some tartness as well.

Cheese with Sausage (Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Basil, Sausage, Bell Peppers):

This was also a bit underwhelming. U Street’s reheated square slices don’t fare as well as other places’ reheated slices. The crust comes across as a bit more heavy, stodgy.

Overall, U Street Pizza’s strength are definitely their round pizzas over their squares. The round pies were solid, but the core crust was the weak link, not bad, but not rising to the level of complementing and accentuating the toppings. If we were craving Pizza in the area, we’d consider going back, but not a drive across town for.

U Street Pizza
33 Union St.
Pasadena, CA 91103
Tel: (626) 605-0340

https://ustreetpizza.com/

Little Coyote (Revisit)

One item we’ve never been able to get at Little Coyote in all all our visits is their Square Pizza (Slice). Their official pictures always look so appetizing, but they were generally offered only on weekdays, and usually from mid-afternoon and on. But they made the switch to offering them permanently on their regular menu, so we had to make a visit. :slight_smile:

Grandma Squares (Sicilian Style, Focaccia Pie, Pepperoni):

This was merely OK. It certainly wasn’t “bad” at all, and rather tasty, but in the world of Square Pizzas / Slices around town, the competition is fierce, and other places just execute a better version. It probably starts with Little Coyote’s Pepperoni, which we’ve always found to be much saltier than our favorites around town. It’s just an inherently saltier product and they are generous with their Pepperoni toppings, so it just makes their Pepperoni Pizzas that much saltier. The same ends up here on the Grandma Slice. And we appreciate the reheated slice being able to crisp up the Pepperoni Cups

Also it’s a massive slice! :open_mouth: You certainly get your money’s worth, but the whole thing feels too heavy, too thick, and you start to get a similar feeling to when you tackle a Chicago-style Pizza monstrosity (but obviously not as gigantic).

(Special) Mr. French Pizza (Bechamel, Burrata, Pancetta, Arugula, Parm, Lemon):

One of Little Coyote’s Specials they rotate in and out, Mr. French sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, the Pizza turned out a bit clumpy, with the Bechamel and Burrata congealed together (see pics above). :frowning: I don’t know if they let it sit (we were waiting and had to wait an extra 20 minutes for the pie), but the end result was a warm Pizza and the Pancetta could’ve also been a bit more crisped up. Decent.

Veggie Supremo Pizza (Roasted Peppers, Red Onion, Olive, Mushroom, Mozzarella, Red Sauce):

Veggie toppings are some of my favorite adds to a Pizza, whether all Vegetarian or in a “Supreme” Pie, etc. Little Coyote’s Veggie Supremo never disappoints. The Roasted Red Peppers, Olives, Mushrooms, Red Onions with Mozzarella is a great combination. :slight_smile:

Meatball Sub (50/50 Beef & Pork, Crushed Tomato, Mozzarella):

On this visit, Little Coyote’s Meatball Sub was thankfully as consistent and good as before. Succulent Housemade Meatballs with a 50/50 mix of Beef & Pork, they were moist and meaty, and nicely balanced. Their House Red Sauce, melted Mozzarella just binds the Sub together. One of the better ones in the city. :blush:

Little Coyote
2118 E. 4th Street
Long Beach, CA 90814
Tel: (562) 434-2009

La Bella Pinseria Romana

I’ve never had Pinsa before, but according to the new Pinsa specialist, La Bella, it originated from Italy and is a lighter version of Pizza:

"Pinsa dough consists of a blend of four flours: soy flour, rice flour, wheat flour and dry sourdough.

It also ferments longer, contains up to 80% water and requires less flour. This allows for a lighter crust which is lower in calories, carbs, starch, gluten, sugar and fats."

La Bella Salad (Arugula, Honey Gem, Radicchio, Apple, Fennel, Candied Walnut, Cherry Tomato, Ricotta Salata, Champagne Vinaigrette):

A respectable Salad, with a classic combination of ingredients. It was a touch overdressed, however, but otherwise, a nice start to the meal.

Boquerones Pinsa (White Anchovies, San Marzano Sauce, Taggiasca Olives, Salsa Verde, Roasted Fresno Chiles):

The Pinsa looked stunning with the golden crust and the beautiful White Anchovies on top. Taking a bite:

Surprisingly dry and cracker-like. For all the rhetoric (from their website and from our server) about how light and airy Pinsa dough is compared to Pizza dough, we were expecting something light, airy, soft and pliable perhaps. But for this first Boquerones Pinsa, the crust was definitely thin and not as “heavy” (weight) as a traditional Pizza crust, but the taste and mouthfeel was like a giant, thicker Saltine cracker, dry. :frowning:

The toppings were tasty, the White Anchovies tasted of quality, but the overall flavor combination with that dry, cracker-like crust? Not that appealing.

Tagliatelle Pasta (Colorado Lamb Ragu, Saffron, Parsley, Bread Crumbs, Capra Sarda):

This was fine; not great. I love Lamb meat, but this Lamb Ragu with Saffron just didn’t have the depth of flavor, the deep unctuousness and slow cooking taste to elevate it to great comfort food realm. The fresh Pasta had a decent mouthfeel.

Carbonara Pinsa (Bacon, Guanciale, Pecorino, Black Pepper, Egg Yolk, Bottarga):

Another gorgeous-looking presentation, it looks like breakfast on a plate. Unfortunately, this Carbonara Pinsa suffered the same issues as the previous one: The Pinsa crust was like a desiccant, sucking the moisture out of your mouth. As before, reminiscent of a giant Saltine cracker in many ways. And that really undermined the rest of the ingredients and overall enjoyment. :frowning:

The rest of the Carbonara pie did evoke a bit of a Carbonara Pasta, eggy, bits of cured Pork, peppery.

The idea behind La Bella Pinseria seems fine: Having an Italian Pinsa specialist to make it stand out from the glut of Pizza options around town. But at least on this visit (during their Grand Opening period), the much talked about Pinsa dough and crust was the worst thing about the dish. It was certainly thinner and lighter than most Pizza crusts, but when it’s like a giant, dried out Saltine cracker? I’m not sure that elevates each Pinsa to its full potential, but maybe that is the style?

La Bella Pinseria Romana
309 N. Central Ave., #4
Glendale, CA 91203
Tel: (818) 646-8599

Quarter Sheets Pizza Club (Revisit)

From our previous visits to Quarter Sheets Pizza Club, Chef Aaron Lindell was already one of our favorite Pizzaiolos making one of L.A. proper’s best Detroit-style Pizzas. Originally starting as a Pop-Up, it seems enough people embraced Chef Lindell’s excellent square pies to help him and Pastry Chef Hannah Ziskin (who makes all the Desserts) to launch into a full brick and mortar store(!). :slight_smile:

Pepperoni Pizza (Pepperoni, Mozzarella, Red Sauce, Grana):

As with previous visits, Chef Lindell’s “least authentic Detroit-style” pies are at their peak when you order a whole Pizza. The Pepperoni Detroit-style Pizza was outstanding! Crunchy exterior crust, this fluffy Focaccia-like crust and base. The Red Sauce is balanced, tart and sweet, the Pepperoni turn into that eye catching “cup” shape and crisp up nicely. The Mozzarella and Grana provide enough pleasing melty and funky happiness to each bite. :heart:

Sicilian Pizza (Basil, Tomato, Mozzarella, Calabrian Chilies, Thin Crust):

Fragrant, tasty, and the thinner crust helped, but I think we preferred their fluffier Focaccia OG crust.

(Special) Bianca Pizza (Sungold & Flame Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Cream, Garlic, Calabrian Chili, Opal Basil & Grana) + (Spicy Fennel Sausage):

First, when they say “Spicy Fennel Sausage,” they mean it! This was really spicy (by my weak Chili eating standards). :sweat_smile: But beyond that, this was a tasty Special they featured. Quarter Sheets has some fun and rotates in a Special Pizza every week. The Tomatoes were sweet-tart, bursting with a good umami flavor, and the Opal Basil infused every slice with a delicate floral-herb aroma. That fresh-baked “least authentic Detroit-style crust” from Chef Lindell continues to shine here. :blush:

Slab Cake Dessert (Olive Oil Chiffon, Lemon Verbena Custard, Slow Roasted Peaches, Whipped Honey Labneh):

The Slab Cake from Pastry Chef Ziskin was also pretty fantastic. She rotates in whatever’s fresh and in-season, and her Olive Oil Chiffon Cake is so light, delicate and airy.

And, Quarter Sheets Pizza Club had a Soft Opening a while back in Echo Park. Time to see the new restaurant!

It’s charming in that low-key, retro vibe, that Quarter Sheets decided to have a nondescript sign that simply read “Pizza”. :sweat_smile:

The one major advantage of Quarter Sheets Pizza Club now in a permanent brick and mortar store (vs. a Pop-Up) is that you can now stop by anytime and just grab a single slice (square), instead of committing to an entire Detroit-style Pizza, and fight for the limited reservations slots (Chef Lindell was baking out of his home and had limited capacity to bake).

How would the individual slices turn out? One way to find out…

Red Top Pizza (Mozzarella, Red Sauce, Basil, Grana):

This reheated pretty well, the Red Top arriving piping hot, the crust was still crunchy and toasty. But It did taste just a touch more dense / stodgy compared to eating Chef Lindell’s Red Top from a whole, freshly baked Pizza. Still, the flavors were spot on and tasty! :blush:

Pepperoni Pizza (Mozzarella, Red Sauce, Grana, Pepperoni):

The Pepperoni by the slice also held up reasonably well reheated. Nice crisp-crunchy texture, the Pepperoni cups crisped up nicely on the reheat and overall, it was a great slice. However, (being very nitpicky to talk about Slice vs. Whole Pie here) Chef Lindell’s freshly baked Pepperoni Whole Pizza, made to order, is the best way to experience the magic of Quarter Sheets Pizza Club. This reheated slice is probably ~80 - 90% of the greatness of the Whole Pizza version that’s freshly baked (which means it’s still delicious). :slight_smile:

Strawberry Slab Cake (Olive Oil Sponge, Strawberry, Marsala, Mascarpone):

First, it should be noted Pastry Chef Ziskin’s Slab Cake slices are huge! Enough to feed 2 - 3 people easily. :slight_smile: The Strawberry Slab Cake on this visit was wonderful as usual. Moist, delicate Olive Oil Chiffon Cake, the Strawberries are in season right now and so fragrant, sweet and exuding Strawberry essence.

Another Visit:

At this point, Quarter Sheets has a couple tables inside (the rest is still being remodeled), and some outdoor standing tables. Our server mentioned they should be close to fully opening up the inside with extra tables soon.

Tomato Pie (Vegan) (Capers, Red Onion, Tomato, Garlic, Calabrian Chili, Arugula & Ranch (Vegan)):

This felt a little like a Salad on Pizza (which some of our Hounds used to complain about). :wink: But it worked. Capers, Red Onion, Tomato and Garlic, Calabrian Chili… just a great flavor combination, and on top of Chef Lindell’s tasty Focaccia-like Pizza crust. The Raw Arugula really counterbalances it all, offering some crisp, cool, refreshing bites. The one thing that is a bit… suspect is the Vegan Ranch. Caveat: I am not a Ranch fan in general, but in this case, it did give this slice some needed creamy / “cheesy” aspect. But I’d rather they use a good Vegan Cheese instead. Still, a nice slice. :slight_smile:

Foggy Notion Pizza (Spicy Sausage, Ligurian Olives, Mozzarella, Tomato, Ricotta, Rapini, Oregano, Chili, & Pecorino):

Really enjoyed the Spicy Sausage with Ligurian Olives with Oregano. The triple Cheese combo mostly worked, adding layered pungency and cheesiness, and there was noticeable light burning heat. Fun slice. :slight_smile:

Princess Cake (Vanilla Bean Chiffon, Mascarpone, Raspberry Preserves, Almond Marzipan):

Another delicious creation from Pastry Chef Hannah Ziskin. The Almond Marzipan with Vanilla Bean Chiffon was the highlight, and the Raspberry Preserves helped balance out the sweetness.

Pimento Grove Pizza (Vodka Sauce, Castelvetrano Olives, 'Nduja, Mozzarella, Roasted Red Pepper, Oregano, Provolone):

Excellent Pizza! :slight_smile: Chef Lindell’s flavor combo of the 'Nduja with Vodka Sauce, the Castelvetrano Olives, Roasted Red Pepper, Mozzarella, Oregano just works. Since we ordered a Whole Pie, it arrived piping hot, freshly baked out of the oven and the “least authentic Detroit-style Pizza” crust was wonderfully crisp-crunchy, it was airy and pillowy in the middle, and just a winner. :heart:

Now that Quarter Sheets Pizza Club has moved into their new permanent, brick and mortar location, with a full commercial kitchen, it’s great to see Chef Aaron Lindell continue the excellence from his Pop-Up days. The “least authentic Detroit-style Pizzas” are still as great as before, and remain our favorite in L.A. County. It’s great to have the option to buy it by the slice, but if you can commit to it, their whole pizzas are the way to go.

The crust is just perfect and truly at the height of maximum crunchiness and airiness the first time out of the oven. The slices reheat well, but lose some of the luster in the process; still tasty, but not as good as a fresh-baked whole pie. Either way, though, it’s worth a visit, along with trying some of Pastry Chef Hannah Ziskin’s delicious Desserts (various Cakes by the Slice).

Quarter Sheets Pizza Club
1305 Portia St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

https://www.instagram.com/quartersheets/

Steel Pan Pizza (Revisit)

And after enjoying Quarter Sheets Pizza Club, it was time for a revisit to Steel Pan Pizza as well, our reigning favorite Detroit-style Pizza place in So Cal.

(New) Tiki Torch Pizza (Hawaiian Pizza with Canadian Bacon, Roasted Pineapple and Jalapenos on a Red Sauce Pie):

I know some people who consider it the ultimate sacrilege to have Pineapple on a Pizza. I am not one of those people. :slight_smile: But, I grew up enjoying Pizzas of all types, and Hawaiian Pizzas were just a thing that my family bought once in a while, and I had no problems with the flavors. But it’s actually been a long time since I’ve had a Hawaiian Pizza, so it was a fun, nostalgia trip to try Steel Pan’s new Tiki Torch Pizza.

While I would’ve preferred the Canadian Bacon to be a bit more crisped up / cooked into the Pizza, the flavors otherwise were a lot of nostalgic fun. Roasted Pineapples provided that tang and sweetness, the Canadian Bacon provided the salinity and porkiness, and the Jalapenos gave it sufficient heat. The star was still their amazing crust, though. Just truly crispy-crunchy, airy, and just the right balance. :blush:

Cuppy 'Roni Pizza (Pepperoni Pizza with Crisped Cupped Pepperoni):

But at the end of the day, if you can only get one Pizza at Steel Pan, it better be the Cuppy 'Roni. The team at Steel Pan continues to hit perfection here: Just look at the pictures! Perfectly crisped up, delicious Pepperoni Cups (not overly salty like some places), with the perfect ratio of Cheese and Crust. And their crust! Golden, toasted up, with Cheese roasted edges.

Taking a bite: Crispy-crunchy, cloud-like, airy, not too heavy. The flavor and balance is incredible! :heart: As much as I like Quarter Sheets and other Detroit-style Pizza places, Steel Pan remains our favorite by far.

Steel Pan Pizza
(inside Rodeo 39 Public Market)
12975 Beach Blvd.
Stanton, CA 90680

Pizzeria Sei

What happens when a former Chef who worked at Providence, Ronan and Pizzana decides to open up his own Pizzeria focused on his love of Japanese Neapolitan-style Pizzas? You’d get Pizzeria Sei.

As we sat down to order, it turned out the person we were speaking with was Chef-Owner William Joo, who was busy making every pie during our 1st visit. He mentioned how he worked at places like Pizzana and Providence, but then the conversation turned to how he liked making Pizzas, in a homage to Japanese-style Pizzas, where he’d pinch the crust as he was making each pie. This allowed for it to be chewier like in Japan. He also mentioned how his Pizzas had higher hydration, so it was airier.

Chef Joo uses Almond Wood to bake each of his Pies. One our first visit, we started with:

Tricolore Salad (Arugula, Radicchio, Endive, Parmigiano Reggiano, Preserved Lemon Dressing):

A refreshing, bright burst of citrus, and a great Salad to start the meal. :slight_smile:

Funghi Pizza (Fior di Latte, Shaved Mushroom, Roasted Garlic, Pecorino, Oregano, Fresh Thyme, Extra Virgin Olive Oil):

This was pretty incredible. Chef Joo’s Funghi Pizza was first alluring with the just out-of-the-oven, fresh baked goodness. The scent of Roasted Mushrooms right out of the oven is already fantastic, but Roasted Garlic, Fresh Thyme, Oregano, and the Fior di Latte… superb.

But it was the crust that was the star! Chef Joo’s words turned out to be truth: This truly was airier, lighter and fluffier than regular Neapolitan Pizzas. Wow. :open_mouth: :heart: It also had real flavor in the dough, not empty, bland, white carbs (a la Pizzana). This was standout! :heart:

Napoletana Pizza (Tomato, Basil, Anchovy, Olive, Garlic, Capers, Oregano, Extra Virgin Olive Oil):

Chef Joo personally recommended this Pie as one to try, so how could we turn it down? :slight_smile: And he was right! The Tomato, Olives, Capers, Garlic were a beautiful match, salty, briny, umami, but then you add in the Anchovies for that beautiful oceanic wave, fragrant, floral Basil, and a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

The pinched crust was just as airy and light as the last one, pillowy and still moist / soft. This was flat-out delicious! :heart:

2nd Visit:

The Pizzas were so good that we had to make a return visit soon after, just to make sure of the consistency.

When we sat down, we noticed a new assistant manning the stoves. When we asked where Chef Joo was, the server said he was in the back working on something else.

Bianca Pizza (Fior di Latte, Preserved Lemon, Basil, Pecorino, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt):

The first thing we noticed was that the crust was more uniform and circular (see pics above) compared to our 1st visit when Chef Joo was personally making them. The Pizza from his new assistant seemed less pinched (not as jaggy / puffed in parts). Taking a bite:

Our suspicions were confirmed. The Pizza crust itself was OK, but definitely tasted more mundane. Nowhere near as airy and light as our 1st visit. :frowning: The flavors of the Bianca itself were enjoyable. I really liked the Preserved Lemon citrus notes, the salty, funky Pecorino, with the melty Fior di Latte and aromatic Basil. This was also way more wet and gloopy, like a traditional Neapolitan, compared to the 1st visit.

Diavola Pizza (Tomato, Fior di Latte, Basil, Soppressata, Chili Flakes, Olive, Parmigiano Reggiano, Extra Virgin Olive Oil):

The flavor combination was good, what’s not to like about Soppressata, Tomato, Basil, Olives and Parmigiano Reggiano? :slight_smile: The Chili Flakes added a nice kick, but nothing too overwhelming. However, once again, with the new assistant making the Pies, it was clear he was a notch below and needed more training. The Pizza crust tasted stodgier, heavier, more typical than when Chef Joo made them personally during our 1st visit. As a result, that airy, light, fluffier crust was gone. And it made a huge difference.

In the end, what is Pizzeria Sei going to be? I think it hinges on how often Chef William Joo will be making the Pies personally, or how well his new assistant can improve to match what Chef Joo is doing. During our 1st visit, when our Pizzas were personally made by Chef Joo, it was incredible! Truly a distinct, airier, lighter crust. It was still sufficiently moist and nicely cooked with only light leopard spotting. The flavors were able to sing on this cloud crust as a result.

The 2nd visit, when it was Chef Joo’s new assistant making all the Pies? Disappointing. :frowning: The crust was nowhere near as pinched, resulting in a heavier, typical Pizza dough & crust. It was more charred, and the whole Pie fell down into the realm of “OK” with quality ingredients.

L.A. has too many great Pizzerias these days. If Pizzeria Sei is more like our 2nd experience as Chef Joo is busy with other endeavors or doing R&D in the kitchen, and we’re in the hands of his new assistant? Then Pizzeria Sei isn’t worth going out of your way for… If it’s more like when Chef Joo is making each Pie? This is a new destination worth a visit.

Pizzeria Sei
8781 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Tel: (424) 279-9800

https://www.pizzeriasei.com/

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Casa Bianca Pizza Pie: Eagle Rock:

Thin crust pizza

Homey environment

Many customers have been going for more than 30 years–still long waiting lines on weekends

Google for 915 pictures!

Ray

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That olive pizza at sei looks amazing great review

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Great report and comparisons!

I just learned about Pinsa last week from an acquaintance from Rome (whose wife’s family runs several notable restaurants in Italy, Michelin-starred not pizza admittedly) - he recommended Oste on W 3rd. I haven’t been yet but am looking forward to trying it. I have become accustomed to the texture of Neapolitan pizza dough, however, and I understand that Pinsa crust may have quite a different bite.

For comparison, this was the margherita pizza I had at Pizza Studio Tamaki (PST) in Tokyo. Pie was made by Tamaki-san at the counter. He definitely did pinch the “cornichione.” Notably, I really enjoyed the airy crust and good moisture on the top. Yes, they do pour quite a bit of olive oil on top to finish, but the tomato sauce had nice moisture in not being dried out, and the buffalo mozzarella and basil being cooked nicely, too. I forget the fermentation time, but I believe it was quite long.

Of course there’s Savoy and Seirinkan, which I will try on my next trip to Tokyo, but where I really want to try for Japanese style Neapolitan pizza is BACAR in Okinawa.

Sei looks delicious and hoping they get consistency sorted out!

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I really need to try their meatball sub before the weather gets too hot.

Meatball subs and hot weather go together like anchovies and ice cream.

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