Here Comes A New Challenger! The Mouth-Watering, Delectable, Stunning Sourdough Neapolitan Pizzas of La Morra Pizzeria [Thoughts + Pics]

Having recently finished up a Pizza Journey, the last thing on my mind was wanting another slice of Pizza. It was just too many carbs, too many calories, and I needed something light and healthy. :sweat_smile:

But when the only reaction we get after the Pizza Journey from our favorite blue faced smiley avatar @ipsedixit is: “La Morra Pizzeria” I knew it was something we needed to try, even if the website stated that it was a Neapolitan style pie.

Full caveat: The traditional Neapolitan style Pizza (with a soupy center) is not one of my favorites. I fall into the @PorkyBelly camp of being not a fan, especially at the recent Hollywood branch of L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele.

It turns out La Morra Pizzeria is not a traditional soupy, pool of liquid in the center creation, but rather a Neo Neapolitan Pizza made with Sourdough.

La Morra Pizzeria is currently on a “permanent pop-up / residency” at Tabula Rasa Bar on Wednesdays.

Founded by Chef-Owner Zach Swemle (of SF’s Pizzeria Delfina) and Marlee Blodgett (who runs the front of the house), they have built a beautiful wood-burning oven on wheels(!), to cater special events and stay at their Wednesday residency until they find a permanent space.

La Morra Pizzeria’s dough is 100% naturally leavened sourdough. It is then fermented over the course of 48 hours according to their website. Sounds wonderful.

One advantage of having a long-term residency at Tabula Rasa is access to their bar (you can order any Pizzas and then chill and have a variety of drinks at the bar or tables at Tabula Rasa).

(Draft) Three Weavers - Sea Farer - German Style Kolsch (Inglewood, CA):

Refreshing, crisp, clean, not overly hoppy. Excellent to sip and enjoyable with the pies.

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

First of all, yes, the Napoli is a Cheese-less Pizza (but there’s an option to add Mozzarella di Bufala). However, there’s a reason Chef Swemle made it this way. Taking a bite:

There’s a soft chew of this Sourdough Neo Neapolitan Pizza crust, then you’re hit with this massive flavor explosion: The Anchovy, Garlic, Capers, Tomato, the herbal Oregano and Spring-like Basil, and a nice bit of heat from the Chilies. But there’s more: The Sourdough crust is incredible! :heart:

It’s got real umami, real depth of flavor. It’s not flavorless like some overhyped places around town, this is subtle, but also adds nuance and complexity. Excellent! :slight_smile:

Margherita Pizza (Tomato, Mozzarella di Bufala, Basil):

Classic flavors, I love La Morra’s Tomato Sauce balance (not overly sweet like some places, not overly tart either). Melty, delicious Mozzarella di Bufala, the hit of Basil, and that Sourdough crust, and no giant pool of liquid in the center (@PorkyBelly!). Their use of Almond Wood for their wood-burning oven imparts a gentle smokiness as well.

Outstanding! :heart:

Clam Pie (Littleneck Clams, Calabrian Chili, Pecorino, Parsley, Panna, Lemon):

I’ll let our East Coaster experts (@TheCookie and others) chime in on the authenticity of La Morra’s Clam Pie, but as a West Coaster, where Clam Pizzas were not the norm out here, I can only say:

Seriously.

A kiss of the ocean - plump, sweet, fresh, meaty morsels of Littleneck Clams - a nice undertone of funk from the quality Pecorino, some heat from the Calabrian Chilies, some brightness and acidity from the Lemon, the vegetal lightness from the Italian Parsley, and you get this lingering delicate tang from that amazing Sourdough base and crust! It engages your taste buds in ways not too often found around L.A.

One of the BEST Pizzas I’ve had in a long time! :heart: :blush: :heart:

So good! (@J_L @PorkyBelly @Ns1 @A5KOBE @JeetKuneBao @attran99 @Gr8pimpin @js76wisco and others.)

2nd Visit:

(Draft) MacLeod - Cutting Bracken - Brown Ale (Van Nuys, CA):

TMNT Pizza (Tomato, Mozzarella, Soppressata, Mushroom, Anchovy, Basil):

“TMNT” stands for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Yes, apparently Chef Zach is a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan and thought that if there was one Pizza that Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael would want to eat, it would be this. :sweat_smile:

I may not be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but after taking a bite of this, I know this is something I’d want to eat regularly. :smile: Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil are already a winning combination, but the addition of Mushrooms, with its earthy deliciousness, and crisped up Soppressata and its beautiful porky salinity, and that hit of ocean from the Anchovies, all on their beautiful lightly chewy Sourdough crust?

Totally excellent! :blush:

Calabrese Pizza ('Nduja, Spring Onion, Taleggio):

But then their Calabrese Pizza arrives.

Like their Clam Pie, there are those moments that you might be fortunate enough to enjoy during a meal, where a bite of food might hit all your taste buds in all the right ways, and bring a massive smile to your face, warming your heart and soul.

This was one of those times.

The 'Nduja Sausage is fragrant, spicy, with great porkiness, and it’s complemented beautifully by the Spring Onions, fragrant, lightly sweet, onion-y, and then the Taleggio Cheese which just matches this Pie so beautifully, and together with their amazing Sourdough Pizza crust flavor. Wow! :heart:

Must order if you see it on the menu! :blush:

3rd Visit:

Focaccia (Slice):

They sometimes have an Off Menu Focaccia dish (by the slice), and they had it on this visit. It looked wonderful.

Unfortunately, the bottom was charred black (really burnt), so each bite resulted in a deep bitterness that only burnt char can impart. It just overpowered the rest of the Focaccia. :frowning:

Love Grows Pizza (Pancetta, Rosemary, Red Onion, Fontina, Panna, Black Pepper, Chili):

Chef Swemle continues to show a mastery and good understanding of balance and great flavors with the Love Grows Pizza as a shining example. Upon the first bite, you might be wondering why this isn’t more prevalent around Pizza joints in L.A.: There’s an incredible porcine, fragrant, subtle lusciousness from the Pancetta, the Rosemary is perfect for elevating the Pizza even further, a nice kick from the Chilies, beautiful cheesy goodness from the Fontina, and the great Sourdough base.

So, so good! Must order! :heart:

Bianco e Verde Pizza (Lacinato Kale, Ricotta, Roasted Garlic, Caciocavallo, Chili, Lemon):

Initially this might look like one of those controversial “Salad Pizzas” that some of our esteemed FTC’ers took umbrage with, but this isn’t one of those creations. Here we have cooked down, softened Lacinato Kale (or Cavolo Nero) that is tender enough to enjoy in Pizza bites, providing a hearty, earthiness, balanced by Roasted Garlic, brightened by Lemon, and bathed in a creaminess from the Ricotta and Caciocavallo Cheeses. Delicious! :blush:

4th Visit:

We were so impressed with our first 3 visits, and after telling our friends about this place, we ended up coming back with them for this 4th visit to verify the consistency, and for the sake of FTC research. :wink:

Diavola (Tomato, 'Nduja, Calabrian Chili, Mozzarella, Oregano, Basil):

This had some surprising heat with the 'Nduja and the Calabrian Chilies. It still turned out to be another winner, with the Oregano, Basil, Tomato and Mozzarella to round things out.

Clam Pie (Littleneck Clams, Calabrian Chili, Pecorino, Parsley, Panna, Lemon):

Their Clam Pie was so good the first time, we wanted to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.

Nope, it wasn’t. :wink:

Clam Pies are rather rare here in L.A. I remember Pizzeria Mozza had one for a while, but it’s no longer on the menu. Suffice to say La Morra Pizzeria’s Clam Pie blows that one away: As beautiful as the first time, a lovely brininess from the plump Littleneck Clams, it’s got a little spicy from the Calabrian Chilies, lemony Italian Parsley, further accentuated from a squeeze of fresh Lemon and balanced by the Pecorino and Panna with the beautiful Sourdough crust. :heart: So good! :blush:

5th Visit:

We were visiting friends in Downtown, when I discovered that La Morra was doing a weekend pop-up at Hauser & Wirth in the Arts District! We excitedly made a detour. :slight_smile:

Note: Our order taker explains that outside of their permanent pop-up at Tabula Rasa, the other pop-ups and special events La Morra does features a slightly smaller (and cheaper) 10" Pie, for ease of faster turnaround.

Just Like Honey Pizza (Tomato, Mozzarella, Soppressata, Chili, Honey):

For those that can’t handle Honey with your Pizza, La Morra’s version is only barely sweet from the Honey, it’s judiciously used, and less sweet than Superfine’s version. It is sweet, spicy, savory, I loved the slightly crisped Soppressata. :slight_smile:

Bianco Pizza (Ricotta, Pickled Pepper, Shallot, Oregano):

The Bianco sounded rather basic on paper, but just look at how luscious and creamy this Pie turned out! :open_mouth: Taking a bite was even better:

Your mouth is hit with an initial pleasing tartness (and some tame heat) from the Pickled Peppers, there’s an inherent aroma from the Pickled Peppers that fills your senses next. You then get a pleasing wave of creamy Ricotta, some delicate Shallots and Oregano and the tang from the Sourdough.

It was incredible! :heart:

La Morra Pizzeria is one of the most exciting things to happen to the L.A. Pizza scene in a while (after Superfine, Il Romanista and Pizza Wagon of Brooklyn). :wink: With Chef Zach Swemle’s unique take Neo Neapolitan-style Pizzas, with this beautiful fermented Sourdough crust providing a beautiful canvas, L.A. is in a real Pizza renaissance with so many standouts around town.

I’m pulling for La Morra to lock in a brick and mortar store, but in the meantime, stop by their long-term pop-up, now at the Kettle Black space for the month of January 2020, or check their website / IG for updates on Weekend Pop-Ups and Special Events around town. (Thanks again @ipsedixit!)

Schedule:

  • Dates: January 9 - February 1, 2020
  • Thurs - Sat, 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.

La Morra Pizzeria (at former Kettle Black location)
3705 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel: (323) 250-3735

Update 1:

La Morra Pizzeria’s month-long extended residency at the former Kettle Black restaurant has begun! We had to swing by and see how La Morra might be working out in this new space.

Walking in, the former Kettle Black dining room is spacious, relaxed, with nice mood lighting. It was at 80% capacity when we arrived. You still order your food before sitting down (they have a cashier setup next to the bar).

Chef Zach Swemle and his crew seem to be settling in just fine using Kettle Black’s wood-burning oven, but I’d imagine his own custom-built oven is still more familiar. Marlee Blodgett keeps the front of the house well organized, orders are taken quickly and guests are able to easily find seating.

One huge advantage of having a month-long residency is the larger Pizza menu, with more options than the Wednesdays-Only pop-ups at Tabula Rasa. There were 6 Pizzas available on the menu.

Patate Pizza (Shaved Yukon Golds, Raclette, Rosemary, Parmigiano):

Normally, the idea of Potato on Pizza might make you think it’s too carb heavy, but Chef Swemle once again shows a great understanding of flavors and balance: The Patate Pizza is an exercise in subtlety and deliciousness! :blush:

The Shaved Yukon Gold Potatoes are thinly sliced, so as to not overwhelm the palate, add in the brilliant use of Rosemary, which lends such a beautiful bright, piney, refreshing quality that lightens up each bite, and it’s nicely bound together with Raclette and Parmigiano Cheeses, and once again that Sourdough base! Delicious. :heart:

Amatriciana Pizza (Tomato, Guanciale, Pecorino, Chili):

Where the Patate was a study of subtle deliciousness, the Amatriciana is the opposite: Total flavor explosion and a wild party on a plate. You are first hit with an excellent Tomato Sauce, not overly tart, nor too sweet. The chewy, mouth-watering Sourdough base enters the scene. Then the Guanciale: SO fragrant, deeply porcine flavors that pervades your senses, and you get the Pecorini and a little bit of spicy from the Chili.

It is INCREDIBLE! :heart: :blush: :heart:

(Secret Menu) Pepperoni Pizza:

La Morra is also featuring 1 Pizza not listed on the menu! Their secret menu item (so far) is a Pepperoni Pizza. Perhaps because it’s so “blue collar” or “OG basic,” but La Morra will make this Pizza if you ask for it. It’s just not listed. I was thinking of our FTC Pepperoni Lovers and knew this had to be ordered in the name of “research.” :wink:

First, the Pepperoni are slightly crisped, with some nice edges, although they are not the “grease chalices” that some of our FTC’ers might be seeking out in NY-style slices. But, it is very good nonetheless.

The slightly crisped Pepperoni have a good salinity and meatiness, combined with their excellent Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella, and the nice, soft chew from their Sourdough Neapolitan-style crust, and you have a great Classic Pepperoni Pie that is outstanding in its own right. :heart:

La Morra Pizza during this month-long residency will feature a Vegan Pizza each week as well. On this evening it was a Cavolo Rosso Pizza (Tomato, Kale, Garlic, Shallot, Oregano, Chili, Basil, Olive Oil). Their Bianco e Verde Pizza (also with Cavolo Nero Kale) was already outstanding, so I have no doubt this one would be just as good. We’ll try it next time. :wink:

Overall, La Morra Pizza despite being in a new (full) kitchen, with a new wood-burning oven feels like it’s already firing on all cylinders: The Patate Pizza (Shaved Yukon Golds, Raclette, Rosemary, Parmigiano) was brilliant in its unique balanced deliciousness. The Pepperoni Pizza has that classic taste, but just executed so much better compared to the majority of Pepperoni Pizzas around the city (it is easily our favorite Pepperoni Neapolitan-style Pie). :slight_smile:

But I’m dreaming about their Amatriciana Pizza still: That incredible burst of flavors, the Guanciale (Pork Jowl) is what all Pizzerias should be using after tasting how fragrant and porky it is, the balanced Tomato Sauce, with the Pecorino and Chili. So good!

We can’t wait to see what La Morra might rotate in this week.

Schedule:

  • Dates: January 9 - February 1, 2020
  • Thurs - Sat, 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.

La Morra Pizzeria (at former Kettle Black location)
3705 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel: (323) 250-3735

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Wow I need this in my life

Also whoever is booking food for Tabula Rosa seems to be killin it

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Did you do these 5 visits, in successive weeks?

So you go to a place, then do you take notes or write a review? And then just don’t post it until you’ve been there three or four times? It’s very impressive.

This looks really amazing!!! I’m drooling so badly right now lol.

Thanks so much for the fantastic report (as always).

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Hi @Gr8pimpin,

Thanks. :slight_smile: We try to give most places multiple visits. In the past, I’d try to revisit any place at least 3 times, but given budget constraints, time, and sometimes utter failure / disappointment, recently we might not be able to go to a place that many times (or just don’t want to ever return). But generally yah. :slight_smile:

For La Morra Pizzeria, after the 1st visit it was already stunning. I could see why @ipsedixit recommended this place. But consistency is important, so we went back again, and again, and each time there was just something more amazing. I would’ve written something up sooner but the holidays / busy-ness hit.

I think you’d like it @Gr8pimpin, hopefully you get a chance soon. :blush:

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As always thank you for the epic reviews but based on your emojis I think I have to order one of everything

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Hi @JeetKuneBao,

:smile: Thanks. That actually reminds me:

La Morra Pizzeria rotates through the various flavors each week (probably due to limited space, and lack of a permanent kitchen), so they usually offer 4 - 5 different Pizzas at a time, so that was another reason we ended up visiting a few times (that and it was delicious). :slight_smile:

I think the Margherita and Napoli are the 2 flavors that are always on the menu.

Enjoy!

Thanks for the reviews, as always @Chowseeker1999. I’ve been trying to get to La Morra to no avail because of the location and schedule, but it looks like I need to try harder.

PSA: From their IG, it looks like they’ll be at Tabula Rasa this Saturday (1/4) from 2pm - 7pm.

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So glad you got to try la morra it is our favorite neo neopolitan in the city! Thanks for your copious reviews and research.

The Bianco looks amazing will have to try that one the next time if its offered

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Been dying to try this. I’m a huge fan of the bar and go a few times a year, but always on weekends. It’s such a great spot.

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Great stuff but not exactly new. Only the oven is Neapolitan-style, the pizza’s one of the best of the modern California hybrids, up there with Delfina and Mozza. Excellent value, too, though my bar tab always more than makes up for that (not that I’m complaining, I love Tabula Rasa).

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What’s the price per pie?

$15-20 and the pies are big enough for two people.

2 regular people or 2 FTC people?

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If you usually order two individual-size Neapolitan pies, you might want one of these for yourself.

I would say one pie per person min, I could eat two easily

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Hi @NYCtoLA,

Thanks! :slight_smile: Yah their limited hours makes it challenging, but hopefully they get a brick and mortar location soon (or add a 2nd day a week to a long-term pop-up)… Thanks for the heads up on this Saturday (today)! Looks like they are switching things up (and Saturday is much more convenient).

Hi @hungryhungryhippos,

Thanks! After @ipsedixit, I saw your posts as well and that helped. We fell in love with La Morra after our first visit, so good! :slight_smile:

Do you like their Clam Pie as well? What’s your favorite of the ones you’ve tried so far? (And yes the Bianco is amazing.)

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Hi @js76wisco,

As robert said, these are bigger than many standard pies (e.g., it’s bigger than Pizzeria Mozza’s pies). If you’re at Tabula Rasa, a nice craft beer on tap and 1 pizza is pretty solid. But I could see some of our FTC’ers polishing off 2 pies. :wink:

I think once they get a long term place and introducing some nice sides / starters would help balance out a meal with just 1 pie.

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Darn, finally doing it on a Saturday, but it’s a bar, so I likely can’t bring my offspring… Maybe I’ll stack the kids on top of each other and go with the long trench coat disguise.

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I’ve never had the clam. But that looks amazing. I’ve only had one clam pie in my life not being an east coaster so I definitely hope to catch them offering that.

Our favorites in no particular order are margherita, the njuda with onions, foraged mushroom, and their sun gold tomato pizza bursting with tomato-ey goodness.

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