Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Great Pizza--Found!

I've been decrying the lack of quality pizza in LA for a while now but, to be fair, I hadn't been to perhaps the two most lauded local dough tossers: Pizzeria Mozza and Tomato Pie. I doubt I'll go to Pizzeria Mozza, at least not on my dime, as it appears to be exactly like A16 or Pizzeria Delfina and I bet dollars to doughnuts that Mozza will be no better and probably worse. High-profile restaurant openings and food quality tend to be inversely related. But if someone wants to change my mind and buy me a Mozza pizza, hit me up. I ain't hidin'.

I did hit up Tomato Pie last weekend with Brother Noah who, contrary to how his name sounds, is not in the Nation of Islam nor does he brew beer in Belgium.

Tomato Pie, for those who don't know, was one of only two LA pizza parlors to make it on GQ editor Alan Richman's list of the nation's best. I wasn't able to get a full pie, so this isn't a full evaluation, but the two slices I got were easily the best I've had in LA. Most notably, the crust was crisp without being burnt, holding its shape despite being New York thin. I'll be curious to see if this holds up on a full pie, as the second cooking that pizza by the slice undergoes can go a long way to crisp up the crust.

First slice was the signature "Grandma," the same pizza Richman swooned over (didn't know that at the time). Hot, fresh-tasting crushed tomatoes and fresh garlic topped with a fistful of Italian herbs and pecorino cheese. Simple but still flavorful and full-bodied.

Second slice was the "Syracuse," a sort of "hot wing" pizza with grilled chicken, wing sauce, spices, red onion, and ranch. This one rocked. The spicy sauce set off the slightly bland crust well and the chicken was amazingly not overcooked. The crust was pooled with olive oil (in a good way) that didn't soak through the crisp crust. I don't like greasy pizzas, but I love oily ones if the oil's good. This slice really kicked the ass of its Two Boots analogue, the "Bird."

I was impressed by the balance of toppings, quality of the crust, and Buddhist Middle-Way distribution of cheese. From a menu standpoint, the mix of traditional pizzas like the "Grandma" with more adventurous options was refreshing. It was neither the uber-refined pretention of a high-end Mozza rip-off or the hipster pretention of a Two Boots; it was simply good honest pizza at a fair $3 a slice (cheaper than Two Boots).

Complaints? Yes. Still not enough salt in the crust (the edge tasted a bit like an Italian restaurant breadstick) and I could even go with something a little froofy in the crust like a tiny bit of red pepper or oregano. But that wouldn't be very New York.

It's too bad they don't deliver to my neighborhood as they're a good step above the (still quite tasty) Purgatory Pizza and a whole lot better than Rocket Pizza.

So there we have it, Tomato Pie is the first pizzeria in LA to get the full 100% HFF Seal of Approval. I'll have the seals printed up right quick.

Tomato Pie
2457 Hyperion Ave.
Los Angeles, Ca 90027

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