“Football and Pizza Wagon.”
You know if I could just have the pizza bones from that 'za, and a glass of wine or a beer? I’d be a happy gal. Hope it was as awesome as it looked!
“Football and Pizza Wagon.”
You know if I could just have the pizza bones from that 'za, and a glass of wine or a beer? I’d be a happy gal. Hope it was as awesome as it looked!
Bro, not fair to post these ridiculous photos from our favorite pizzeria…my mouth is watering uncontrollably…too bad for Anthony the Giants got slammed!
So I made it into il Romanista today. No photos but I did pig out and it was awesome. But I had a talk with the owner, and he told me that triple beam opened a second location in Echo Park? On sunset?
Yes it’s been several months.
Nice! So glad you liked Il Romanista! Which flavors did you try and what were your favorites today?
I wish I had written down the descriptions! I’m Stealing your descriptions, @Chowseeker1999 (for the audience) where possible because I just did not take notes. Picking someone up at the airport with the “kid” and thought it was a perfect time to go, but was in a rush.
La Bandiera (Mozzarella, Roasted Zucchini, Roasted Bell Peppers, Pecorino Romano DOP, Ricotta, Spinach)
Palatino (Mozzarella, Mushrooms, Provolone, Porcini Mushrooms, Parsley)
Calabrese (Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Spicy Soppressata)
Carbonara with the egg, pecorino.
Don’t know the names but one with red sauce, sausage, peppers and one with cherry tomatoes, red chili flakes.
I will dream of that Palatino and the Bandiero. But the carbonara was compelling. It would really be hard to pick a favorite cause I really just love them all. New York and Roman style are the only pizza types for me.
Really great airy crust with a great crisp, but not too crunchy. Great flavors. I told him my dream would be having 3-4 of these whole pies surrounding me on football Sunday.
He was so nice as was the gentleman who served us. Talked pizza. All types, he tried to help me figure out what I had in Rome grabbing his phone and showing me photos. (Plane was late so suddenly had time for a chat)
Yeah. If I had this in my area along with pizza wagon… I’d never leave home except when I needed my Brent’s fix LOL!
I love the Palatino and Bandiera as well. Il Romanista has such a great crust and the flavors! The staff was friendly during our visits as well. Hope you get a chance to go back.
Has anyone tried Luzzo’s - BK on Tujunga in Studio City? Guess they are an offshoot of a place in Brooklyn.
(Photos courtesy of Yelp)
I had sworn off Pizza after going on the Pizza Journey (above), but of course our FTC’ers had to go and start talking about a bunch of other Pizza places to try, so after much resisting and a break as long as possible, off we went on another adventure.
We had bookmarked Apollonia’s for awhile now, due to a mention that they were serving some pretty good square slices.
We decided to try a basic slice first, to see how it might turn out.
Margherita Pizza (Slice):
I wished I took a picture of my friend’s face as she went slightly bug-eyed in disbelief: Apollonia’s “Margherita” Pizza was basically a Cheese Pizza with Raw Tomatoes and Basil thrown on top.
It tasted about as good as it sounded and looked. A generic Cheese Pizza slice, biting into flavorfless Raw Tomatoes and accented by a little bit of Basil. Probably the worst Margherita slice we’ve had in L.A. since I can remember. Avoid @lapizzamaven @PorkyBelly and others.
They had 3 choices for their Square Pizzas: Cheese, Pepperoni, and for a “bargain” $8 a slice (+ tax & tip), you could get one with Ricotta and Truffle Oil. We could see why @Nemroz would be upset
getting 2 slices and a drink would set you back about $20 for that.
Pepperoni (Square) Pizza:
First, the biggest travesty was that they burnt the Pepperoni. That’s not slight char, that’s burnt. The square slice had some slight Cheese “lattice edge” like what a Detroit-style Pizza is supposed to be like from the discussions on our board.
It’s more bready, had a decent crunch, but for $7 a slice (these were much smaller than, say, Il Romanista’s slices) it felt too precious for what you got and the quality.
5176 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: (323) 937-2823
Since we were exploring square slices, there were discussions that Purgatory Pizza was making Detroit-style Pizza as well, so we decided to stop by and see how they compared with Apollonia’s. When you enter, you realize they actually offer about 9 different Thin-Crust (Round) Pizzas by the slice, along with their Square Pizzas.
Gordon Bombay (Rectangular, Pan-Baked’ Pizza with Garlic Olive Oil Base, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Hand Crushed Tomato, Pesto Drizzle, and Shredded Parmesan & Romano):
The order taker clarified that even though they had 3 or 4 Square Pizzas, they weren’t Detroit-style Pizzas. They had 1 specific menu item called “Detroit Style” that was their interpretation of Detroit Pizza. So this Gordon Bombay was rectangular, thicker than an average slice here in L.A., and a bit more Bread-like with a firm enough bottom.
The actual flavor of the Gordon Bombay was tasty though: We liked the overall flavor and taste of the crust more than Apollonia’s. Pesto, Mozzarella, Garlic & Olive Oil is hard to screw up for a flavor combination.
Abuela Mala (Purgatory’s take on a Long Island Classic Grandma, Fresh Mozzarella, Margherita Sauce Stripes, Romano, Basil):
Similar flavors to those found a Margherita Pizza, their Abuela Mala was a tasty square, the Basil and Margherita Tomato Sauce was well incorporated in every bite.
Their Pepperoni Square looked promising: Notice the Pepperoni crisping up and having nice crisped edges. Taking a bite, this was delicious. I loved the contrast of crisped-edge Pepperoni with the cheesy, soft Bread-like base (with a slight crunch on the very bottom).
Terrestrial Pizza (House Basil Almond Pesto, Cherry Tomato, Ricotta, Romano, Shredded Parmesan):
I love a good Pesto, but the Terrestrial, while fragrant, was a bit too heavy and oil-laden for my tastes. Our friends agreed that they liked other Pesto Pizzas we had previously better. For their Thin Crust (Round) Pizza slices, it was a softer base compared to the squares, being more pliant and foldable.
Detroit Style Pizza (Baked in Detroit Style Pans, with Mozzarella, Pizza Sauce on Top, and a Crispy Cheesy Crust):
Their Detroit Style indeed looked and tasted different from their other Square Pizzas. It was thicker, had a distinct “lattice work” Cheese crust / edge. This tasted like a Focaccia Bread topped with Pizza Toppings and baked until crisped up. It’s nowhere near as thick and overwhelming as a Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza, but it did taste a bit too bready for me. It was fine, but it wasn’t something I found myself wanting to return for.
One interesting note for vegetarians and vegans out there: Purgatory Pizza offers a whopping 12 different Vegan Pizzas, which almost matches the number of regular Non-Vegan Pizzas (13). Curious (and for research for my vegan friends), we ordered:
Jersey Devil (House Vegan Sausage, Green Bell Peppers, Red Onions, Splashed Marinara, Sesame Seeds):
The Pizza crust was a bit pale, but the actual flavors were pleasing: It’s hard to go wrong with Red Onions, Bell Peppers, Housemade Marinara Sauce, and the Sesame Seeds added a light nuttiness to each bite. The Housemade Vegan Sausage was a bit sparse, but added some “meaty” taste to the pie.
Overall, Purgatory Pizza isn’t one of L.A.'s finest, but if you were in the neighborhood, and were craving some Pizza, their Pepperoni Square or the Abuela Mala (Long Island Grandma), might be worth a try.
1326 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Tel: (323) 262-5310
It was time to head south, in search of another place reportedly doing Detroit-style Pizza. Steel Pan Pizza is located inside the 4th Street Market, featuring more distinct, quality offerings than many standard food courts in L.A.
Looking over the menu, Steel Pan Pizza is indeed all about Detroit-Style Pizzas (they don’t serve the more common round versions). They are also only sold as individual-sized pies, but baked fresh to order.
Classic Detroit Pizza (1/2) (Red Sauce. Mozzarella. Extra Stripes of Marinara.) + Nuts and Bolts Pizza (1/2) (Red Sauce. Mozzarella. Pepperoni. Sausage. Mushrooms. Bell Peppers. Red Onions. Olives.):
Taking a bite of the Classic Detroit Pizza, and I think we all suddenly had an epiphany of why some folks may love this style: Imagine freshly-baked Focaccia Bread, fluffy, airy, with a crisp-crunch on the bottom, topped with Mozzarella Cheese, Steel Pan’s Marinara Sauce with golden crisped edges of melted Mozzarella Cheese. It’s delicious!
The Nuts and Bolts half of the Pizza is still pretty good, but a bit less successful: It’s just too crowded, piled high with a generous portion of toppings. Perhaps it was our fault for each of us ordering our own “halves”, but it feels like the sheer amount of toppings - the Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Olives, Onions, Sausage and Pepperoni - would’ve been more enjoyable with more surface area, so perhaps over a larger Pizza.
Cuppy 'Roni (Pepperoni Pizza with Crispy, Cupped Pepperoni, Red Sauce, Mozzarella):
Their Cuppy 'Roni (Pepperoni Pizza) reminded us of the pictures @Ns1 posted of the “grease chalices” for proper Pepperoni Pizza. And while their Classic Detroit was a respectable bite, the Cuppy 'Roni was simply delicious!
Crispy-edged Pepperoni cups, porky, salty, and just a classic match with Mozzarella and their House Red Sauce. It’s not a traditional “Pepperoni Pizza”, but for a “Pepperoni Pizza-like Focaccia Bread with a crisped bottom, crisped Mozzarella Cheese edges and crisped Pepperoni grease chalices”? Yah, this is pretty wonderful. (@PorkyBelly @lapizzamaven @Gr8pimpin @A5KOBE and others.)
Steel Pan (and the 4th Street Market) is located in a rather throwback, cozy “old town” feel in Santa Ana. On this 2nd visit, they were holding a rollerblading competition, with lots of families and hardcore skaters cheering on the competitors, taking pictures, etc.
The Vegan Pizza (Red Sauce. Housemade Cashew Cheese. Mushrooms. Grilled Broccolini. Bell Peppers. Red Onion.):
We had to order their Vegan Pizza for research for my vegan friends; especially since Steel Pan makes their own Cashew Cheese for this Pizza (a nice touch). Taking a bite: They somehow managed to still create the crisp-crunchy sensation of their regular Detroit-style Pizzas, even with the crisped edges with their Vegan Cashew Cheese preparation. This was actually tasty (I generally love some veggies on my Pizza anyways), and a nice alternative for any vegans or vegetarians craving Detroit-style Pizza.
Steel Pan Style (White Sauce. Mozzarella. Grilled Chicken. Pecan Wood Smoked Bacon. Mushrooms. On a White Pizza finished with Arugula & Parmesan):
I loved the rich, savory, deep flavors from the Roasted Mushrooms, the porky, salty blasts from the Pecan Wood Smoked Bacon, and the Mozzarella and crisp-crunchy Focaccia-like base was fine. It was a touch salty, though, probably from the Parmesan, White Sauce and Bacon, compared to the other flavors they have. The Arugula added some needed bitterness to counter the rest of the pizza.
We’re not experts on Detroit-style Pizza, but of all the places in So Cal we’ve tried for this style, Steel Pan was easily our favorite (our friends unanimously chose Steel Pan as well). It’s much better than Apollonia’s (and much cheaper @Nemroz) ;), better than Purgatory, and even if it’s not a traditional Pizza we might be used to, I’d be glad to go back for their Cuppy 'Roni (Pepperoni Pizza) and Classic Detroit.
Steel Pan Pizza
(inside 4th Street Market)
201 E. 4th St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Even though Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza is not really one of our favorite types of pies to order, we had Blackbird Pizza Shop bookmarked for awhile and figured we had enough people to finish off 1 Chicago-style Pizza right?
Organic Greens (Hot House Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes, Parmesan, Lemon Vinaigrette):
This was a generous, massive Salad for only $6. Unfortunately some of the Mixed Greens were rotting.
Balls Deep Pizza (Our Signature Deep Dish with our Signature Meatballs):
Even though this was the Small (9") Pizza, because of the Chicago-style nature, it was still thick with a ton of toppings. Thankfully(?), it was only about ~50% of the thickness of a Lou Malnati’s or Gino’s East Pizza, but even then, it was a lot of food.
It starts with their super stretchy Mozzarella:
Questionable menu name aside, their signature Chicago-style Deep Dish was cheesy, with a tart Red Sauce, Fresh Basil, and the Housemade Beef Meatballs were zesty and tender enough. I liked a bit of the Cornmeal Crust as well.
However as many of our FTC’ers have noted (@lapizzamaven @Gr8pimpin and others), it’s just too much: We had 5 of us, and we couldn’t finish the 6 slices of this “Small” Chicago Pizza. It didn’t help that we were all partially tapped out from eating Pizza on this journey, but it’s just a giant glob of melted Mozzarella, Red Sauce, some Meatballs, and a thick Cornmeal Crust. I think half of a slice would be just right… maybe?
If you’re in the mood for Chicago-style Pizza and on Melrose, Blackbird Pizza Shop might be worth a stop. Otherwise, keep driving down a few blocks east to the corner of Melrose & Highland for tastier Pizza that won’t wipe you out with one slice.
Blackbird Pizza Shop
7459 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Tel: (323) 424-7184
Since we were in the area, and to help put our new Pizza places on this journey into perspective, we had to finish things off with a revisit to our favorite Pizza places around L.A. First stop, Chef-Owner Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza.
DOP San Marzano Tomato, Fior di Latte, Basil & Extra Virgin Olive Oil Pizza:
A new Seasonal Pizza, this sounded intriguing, like Mozza’s take on a traditional Neapolitan Margherita. The result? Not so good; at least for people who don’t want a totally soupy, soggy center. It was definitely not like other Mozza pies, this one had so much liquid it was off-putting. The crust was still Mozza’s signature crunchiness, but the entire center was like a traditional Neapolitan.
Flavor-wise, the special DOP San Marzano Tomatoes they were using didn’t really stand out, mainly tart-acidic, tasty, but otherwise not really a standout. Same for the Fior di Latte, a tender chew, melty, but that’s about it. It was a solid Margherita, but not worth the markup for this Special ($29).
Brussels Sprouts, Guanciale, Red Onion & Mozzarella Pizza:
I still have dreams about the amazing Fresh English Peas & Guanciale Pizza that Mozza had a couple years ago, so seeing this variation was a must order. First off, this was back to the normal Mozza pies, so there’s no soggy center like the Special DOP San Marzano (Margherita) Pizza. Taking a bite:
Your palate is hit with this incredible, mouth-watering, fragrant porcine flavor from the Guanciale! This is so far beyond adding Bacon (which is tasty in its own right), it’s savory and permeates throughout the Pizza. The Brussels Sprouts are cooked just right (not overcooked), so it’s got some density and vegetal notes, but not acrid like overcooked Brussels Sprouts can get. It works beautifully with their Housemade White Sauce, Mozzarella, Red Onions and the Guanciale, and that wonderful crunchy crust.
Pizzeria Mozza (O.G.)
641 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: (323) 297-0101
Time for Il Romanista’s Roman-style Pizza!
Peperonata Pizza (Tomato Sauce, Bell Peppers, Sausage, Oregano, Mozzarella, Basil):
After trying a bunch of Detroit-style Pizzas, taking a bite into Il Romanista’s Roman-style square slices was the perfect reminder of what makes Il Romanista so good: Nowhere near as thick as Detroit-style, their daily special Peperonata was incredible! Piping hot, melted Mozzarella, balanced Tomato Sauce, aromatic Bell Peppers, with Oregano and Basil, and their Pork Sausage added just the right amount of salinity, all on top of that crunchy crust!
Palatino Pizza (Mozzarella, Mushrooms, Provolone, Porcini Mushrooms, Parsley):
One of the best flavor bombs on this Pizza Journey so far! The 2 types of Mushrooms, Spring-like Parsley, beautiful melting Mozzarella and Provolone, piping hot on the crunchy crust? Outstanding!
La Bandiera Pizza (Mozzarella, Roasted Zucchini, Roasted Bell Peppers, Pecorino Romano DOP, Ricotta, Spinach):
Probably the lightest (non-heavy) Pizza on this journey, I loved the combination of the Roasted Zucchini, Roasted Bell Peppers, Pecorino Romano DOP, Mozzarella, Ricotta and Spinach on the same great crust again.
Il Romanista continues to be consistently great, delivering some incredible flavors on a square wonderfully crunchy crust. It says something that even though I’m so Pizza’d out, when writing about Il Romanista, I suddenly have the craving to stop by again. Now. (Thanks again attran99 @aaqjr @JeetKuneBao @js76wisco @Bigmouth and others!)
829 North Douglas St.
El Segundo, CA 90245
Tel: (310) 616-3111
Spinach Roll (Sauteed Spinach, Mozzarella):
One of the surprises from our first few visits to Pizza Wagon of Brooklyn were their Spinach Rolls. We had to order another one just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke:
Nope. It wasn’t.
It sounds rather basic or boring, perhaps, but Pizza Wagon’s Spinach Rolls are packed with flavor: Tender, cooked Spinach, melted Mozzarella, wrapped up in a toasty outer pocket of dough. Somehow it works, offering a tasty, melting bite of happiness that’s a good way to get your serving of Vegetables.
Whole 16" Pizza - Half Pesto + Half Pepperoni:
Biting into a slice of the Pepperoni Pizza at Pizza Wagon feels like you’re biting into a slice of history. It tastes like something made with decades of experience (and it is with Anthony’s (owner) years of working at the OG Pizza Wagon back East with his uncle and brother).
The Pepperoni cups are wonderful grease chalices (thanks @Ns1) and it’s a foldable, sturdy but pliant crust, and the classic flavor combination of melted Mozzarella, their Tomato Sauce and the porky Pepperoni cups. Delicious!
But their Pesto Pizza might give the Pepperoni a run for its money: Beautifully herbal, aromatic, I love this Pesto, Ricotta and melting Mozzarella combination!
Pizza Wagon of Brooklyn
14522 1/2 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Tel: (818) 616-1492
It is still baffling how this little Takeout Only operation (with a few tables next to the window) with an electric oven is able to churn out Pizza this good. Then again, with a pedigree like Chef-Owner Steve Samson, of Sotto and Rossoblu fame, you can see why it could succeed (although, as noted before, Superfine doesn’t make Neapolitan Pizzas like what Sotto did, it’s something totally different).
Veganissima Pizza (Tomato, Garlic, Rapini, Capers, Oregano, Chilies, Mint, Parsley, Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil):
Thoughtful, incredible explosion of flavors! Their Tomato Sauce, Capers, Rapini, Chilies, Mint, Parsley, Basil, Garlic, and a quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and you combine that with a wonderful crispy, lightly crunchy crust and it’s just an outstanding slice!
And it doesn’t even need meat to pack this much flavor. So good!
Pepperoni Pizza (Tomato, Cheese, Pepperoni):
As great as the Veganissima is, Superfine’s Pepperoni is where it’s at: Simple, elemental, but each component is so excellent, it truly combines into something greater than its parts. It begins with the perfectly balanced Housemade Red Sauce: Not too acidic-tart, just enough sweetness and a nice savoriness with the Tomato flavor coming through, the wonderful cheesy funk and balance of melted Mozzarella, Provolone and Grana Padano Cheese, and of course the wonderful Pepperoni cups that are crisped on the edges, giving you a beautiful porky textural contrast, all on a crisped-crunch of a crust on the edges and more pliant in the middle.
It is stupid good!
Superfine Pizza has quickly become one of our favorite Pizza joints in the city, putting out their version of a cross between a Neapolitan and a Brooklyn-style pie. Whether Whole or by the Slice (which is arguably even better than a whole Pizza because of a 2nd heating crisping up the ingredients even more), Superfine is well worth a visit for some of the best Pizza in L.A.
1101 San Pedro St., Unit F
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel: (323) 698-5677
This was another satisfying, fun Pizza Journey. I’m glad we were able to explore a bit of what Detroit-style Pizza might be like, and revisit some of our favorite joints in L.A. If you’re ever in the O.C., Steel Pan Pizza is worth a visit for their Pepperoni Detroit-Style Pizza, with intriguing crispy Mozzarella Cheese edges. It’s a tasty bite even if you’re more of a fan of the traditional round Pizza.
And revisiting our favorites on this trip, Pizzeria Mozza’s new seasonal Brussels Sprouts with Guanciale Pizza is ridiculous! Il Romanista’s Roman-style squares are consistently delicious (try the new Peperonata with Sausage, Basil, Oregano, Mozzarella, Bell Peppers and Tomato Sauce), and Pizza Wagon of Brooklyn’s Pepperoni and Pesto pies are incredible!
And of course Superfine Pizza’s own style of Pizza, and their crisped up Pepperoni cups, blend of 3 quality Cheeses, balanced Tomato Sauce and incredible crust might just be our favorite Pepperoni Pizza in L.A. at the moment. Thanks again to all our FTC’ers for the suggestions!
Thank you again for an excellent report!!
As soon as I saw “Il Romanista” I started salivating, as well. That mushroom slice is so good!
I wish they weren’t closed weekends .
Steel Pan is now on my list.
Glad you enjoy Pizza Wagon. I think I now like the pesto slice better than pepperoni (forgive me, Lord).
I think it’s so cool they’ll do a half pep half pesto pie like that! Never thought to ask! Maybe a Sicilian version of that would be good. Love this place!!
Geno’s East is opening in Sherman Oaks, within the week. They are currently training. I may give Chicago style another shot. I’ll just stop at Costco first for bulk buy Pepto.
Amazing report; good pix too. Makes me wish I lived in L.A. We hope to make it to some of those places when we visit.
I really need to just suck it up and make the drive to Pizza Wagon
Bang bang with Shin
Thanks. Yah I wish Il Romanista opened on weekends as well, but I’m glad we at least have that option on weekdays, and it’s a great stop if you have to drop off or pick up people from LAX.
I think you’ll like Steel Pan. You have tried Superfine already right?
Yah the folks at Pizza Wagon of Brooklyn are nice; I’m glad they allowed that as well!
I have not. Downtown once and thought of them but bummed they weren’t open yet, as you knew they don’t open until late afternoon.
Someday. It does look damn tasty!
I’ve been trying to find a reason to drive from the OC to the valley just to make a pit stop at Pizza Wagon.
Superfine is the best NY style pizza I’ve had in LA (see above). Big bummer that they open at 5pm. I was in DTLA a few weekends ago during the day and wanted to bring a pie home for dinner. Had to settle for Prime Pizza which is still better than OC pizza but not as good as Superfine.
I can’t believe I still haven’t made it here. We have cooled on the 4th St Market in general. A lot of turnover of some of our favorite vendors although Portola is reason enough to make a trip.
Thanks. Hopefully you get a chance to try some of these places when you visit next.
Not sure it’s worth the drive all the way from OC just for that, but if you mix in a bang x bang or 4, like what @moonboy403 said, that’ll be fine.
If you take the 405 S on the way back, you can swing by Huckleberry and get yourself their amazing Turkey Meatball Sandwich.
And/or swing by Gjusta and get a few more of their amazing things like their Italian Sandwich or Prime Rib Butcher (or Smoked Seafood plate).
That sucks about Apollonia’s Margherita. I usually don’t like margherita pizza for the very reason and look of the pizza you posted. I’m not a big basil fan and the raw tomatoes usually turn watery in the oven. BUT! I used to their margherita. They sliced the toppings really thin then swirled a dose of olive oil over it before putting in the oven. Everything just melted into the cheese and sauce like it was one. Then they started tossing uncooked basil on top and now that tomato! Just No. Unfortunately, your square pizza doesn’t look as good as their first efforts either. Yep, they start out strong then fizzle. It’s a problem.
Mizlala is nearby. Sherman Oaks through studio city is also Sushi Row and there’s Daichan. Milo and Olive would be closer than driving to Huckleberry.