By Courtney Walsh, West Coast Editor
While New York and Chicago fight over who serves the best slice, a number of Los Angeles based restaurants have been quietly serving up pizzas with fresh, seasonal ingredients that would impress even the staunchest critics. From fast casual to white tablecloth dining - here is our round up of the top five pizza serving establishments in LA.
If Los Angeles had to pick one pizza to pit against the best pizzas around the world, that pizza would have to come from Sotto. Opened by Steve Samson and Zach Pollack, Sotto serves up a number of other Southern Italian inspired dishes, but it is their Neapolitan pizzas that steal the show. With a special dough recipe developed by Pollack, the pizzas are cooked in the restaurant’s specialty wood-burning oven, the first of its kind in LA that was built onsite by craftsmen hailing straight from Naples.
Perfectly charred while still maintaining a light, fluffy crust, the pizzas feature fresh, seasonal ingredients alongside Italian staples. Highlights include the classic Margherita pizza as well as the more cutting edge Guanciale pizza, served with house cured pork cheek, ricotta cheese, scallions and fennel pollen.
Pizzeria Il Fico
Operated by Sommelier John Tierney and Master Chef Nicola Mastronardi, Pizzeria Il Fico is a small neighborhood restaurant that focuses on serving a number of regional dishes from Chef Mastronardi’s hometown of Bari, located in Italy’s Puglia region. While small, the restaurant has already received much critical acclaim and was recently featured on the Food Network’s series Chopped, where the restaurant took the top prize.
And while Il Fico offers patrons a cozy dining environment, it also provides a delivery service, allowing locals to receive the restaurant’s elevated pizza delivered straight to their door. Some of the house specialty pizzas include the La Pugliese, a pizza topped with rapini, sausage, roasted tomatoes and a mix of mozzarella, burrata, and caciocavallo cheeses, an ultra-indulgent gorgonzola, fig and prosciutto pizza, and the spicy La Diavola pizza.
Blaze has been making headlines for their tailor-made, DIY style pizza concept that allows patrons to construct their own pies in a Subway-like fashion. Started by Chef Bradford Kent, known familiarly as “The Pizza Whisperer," the fast-casual chain offers fresh, made-from-scratch dough that can be customized with a number of healthy, artisanal ingredients in assembly line fashion. Blaze also offers a number of gluten-free and vegan offerings and all pizzas are packaged with eco-friendly, recyclable materials.
Another of LA’s assembly line pizza joints, 800 Degrees is a fast-casual concept introduced by Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman. Here, patrons chose from a number of high-quality toppings with which to build their own personalized pizza. Open until 2 am, serving up cheap, delicious pizza in record time, 800 Degrees caters specifically to a younger crowd but while the eats are cheap, they are prepared with only the freshest sourced ingredients, honoring both classic Italian flavors as well highlighting local California produce.
We would be remiss to not include a by-the-slice pizza option and Downtown LA’s own Pizzanista is a worthy choice. Taking inspiration from a variety of classic pizza offerings, Pizzanista serves up thin-crust, New York style pizza slices, made fresh daily using 200-year old sourdough cultures from Naples and hand-milled marinara sauce from California tomatoes. They strive to only serve fresh, locally grown produce and humanely-raised meats and offer a number of classic offerings alongside some more playful options. Whether it be fun choices like the Meats Jesus pizza, the Rise & Shine breakfast pizza or the house specialty Mac-N-Cheese pizza, Pizzanista’s delicious pizza offerings are no joke.