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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shakey's Pizza Parlor

So if you are from Southern California you know Shakey's and I don't have to tell you. This is for the people who relocated here and wonder what this place is all about. It's a hard place to describe. It's a chain, so it's clean, big, and somewhat generic in the food department. Comfort food in the form of mainly pizza. Though pizza is pretty comfortable no matter where you go. Everything is by the book and done to perfection, corporate franchise style. For example they weigh every ingredient on the pizza. So every pizza has the exact amount of shredded cheese on top. It of course is so much more than a pizzeria, it has potatoes in every form, wings, and a buffet with a salad bar. It has games for the kids in the form of a Chuck E. Cheese's, but not nearly as impressive. It also has beer and big TVs. So since 1954 it has been specializing in food, family and fun in that order.

Now to the pizza. Like every place else, they have specialty pizzas and regular pizzas in 3 sizes. S, M and L, which is 16 inches. They also have two styles, thin crust and and pan pizza. I got a straight up large cheese pizza, it was $18.

Now those people from the east coast who have a different sense of what pizza is all about, let me warn you this is no east coast or NY style pizza. Of course I'm not convinced this is California style either. People have said this is what Southern California pizza is, along with Round Table and a place called Me and Ed's. Im not sure what it is that makes it California style, other than the fact that these place originated here. This is similar to the other belief that Cali style are rare and interesting topping combinations. Is the fact that the BBQ chicken pizza originated here enough to dub it as a California style, even if I can get that same pizza topping in NY. I am skeptical of these labels, but I digress.
While I waited for the pizza to come out I was offered one of the slices that was sitting on the buffet. The Firehouse. It had spicy sausage and pepperoni with red onions, diced tomatoes and basil. It was pretty good I have to admit. Though I was hungry. Finally I got my cheese pizza.
It supposedly had basil on it but I didn't see any. The crust was unique. It was ultra thin and very crispy, yet moist and somewhere there was a doughy center, I swear - but I couldn't see it. There were bubbles, 3 slices wide. The dough rolled up and down in giant craters through the whole pizza.
So I have the say the crust wasn't what I'm used to but it wasn't too bad. The cheese was, as expected, put on very heavy. It was cheap, generic cheese. The sauce was nicely spiced and sweet, but didn't taste fresh or that amazing really. The pizza tasted cheap even though the price really wasn't. Their specialty pizzas are definitely the way to go, it takes the cheese and sauce out of the equation and leaves you with a filling meal laid out on their crispy crust which is the best part of the pie. Which isn't saying too much.

7001 Santa Monica Blvd.
Price: $$

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Caruso's Italian Restaurant

Way up in Sylmar is a Italian restaurant that has been run by the same family for over 35 years. It is a pretty cool place with a big dinning area and a bar in the back. They have a great lunch special: a buffet with all kinds of food, from lasagna to sausage and everything in between, even pizza. It is all for around 10 dollars.
For the long trip I brought a friend, connoisseur of anything edible.

We didn't want a pizza that had been sitting around on the buffet so we ordered our very own cheese pizza. It was a medium 14 inch for about 13 dollars. Though ours was part of the buffet so it was included.
As you can see it was a very crispy crust. The waitress apologized for the overly cooked pizza, but I didn't think it was too overly done. Definitely on the crispy side though, but a very thin and chewy crust with a good dough flavor. It had cornmeal on the bottom which helped with the crispiness. I actually thought it tasted like it was in a wood fired oven. It wasn't, just a regular deck oven. The cheese was a good cheese, not too oily, but put on a touch to heavily, or rather the sauce was put on a little too lightly. There was very little flavor coming from the sauce because there just wasn't enough to taste it. When I did get a mouthful of it, I tasted a ton of spices. It was a thicker, spiced and cooked sauce that would probably be good with their pasta but not right for pizza.

Overall I'd say the pizza wasn't bad, in fact very above average. Good quality ingredients, and all put together fairly well. The sauce to cheese ratio was a little off. Plus after a couple slices it cooled down quicker than most, which made it less desirable. There wasn't anything about it that really made you love it and made you keep eating until you were way past your stomach's limit. It didn't have that "mmm..." factor as my friend said.
An average pizza but with good ingredients, in a good environment for a good price.

Check out the VIDEO review:

Caruso's Italian Restaurant
13737 Foothill Blvd. Sylmar 91342
Price: $

Caruso's Italian Food on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lucky Devils

This is a pretty cool place with great beer, and good reasonably priced food. Mainly a BBQ place I guess but they have lots of different things including pizza. This is not a pizza place. I shouldn't even waste my time talking about it, but I went there and of course couldn't resist the pizza and now I feel I have to share it with the masses.

If a pizza is called Margherita, that really does it for me. For some reason when you call it that instead of a cheese pizza it makes you believe that the pizza will be better, more legitimate. Smart marketing. On top of that Luck Devils says their pizza is grilled. So I can't say no to a grilled Margherita pizza. They also boasted that it was big and made a claim that I might have trouble finishing it. They of course did not know who they were dealing with. The pizza was oblong in shape. It came out on a wooden board and I'd say it was about 5 in x 15 in or so, maybe bigger. I had no trouble finishing it and let it be known I had a bowl of soup and a few beers before hand.
( Sorry for the terrible pics)
The pizza was indeed grilled, based on most obviously, the charred lines on the bottom. It tasted grilled too. The crust was light, crispy and thin and had good flavor to it. It also had a firm chewiness to it. I'd say the crust was the highlight, though not perfect, it was a little dry. The cheese and sauce were put on in good amounts and in good proportion to each other. Not oily at all, everything tasted fresh. The cheese didn't blow me away but was satisfying. The sauce was what let me down mostly. It was fresh, but a little too much plain tomato flavor. It wasn't spiced really that much, and it's not like the tomatoes were San Marzano ones either. The other weird thing was I thought they said there would be basil, as there should have been but instead there were green specs of some other plant, that was definitely not basil. As crazy as it seems I think it was parsley. Either way you couldn't taste it.
I liked the size, it was just enough to eat and the price was about 10 or 11 dollars I think. I liked that it wasn't too wide and the pizza was cut in strips so you could actually fold each strip in half and eat it like you would a NY slice. Other than that, a decent pizza from a place that doesn't "do" pizza, but certainly not the best in LA.

Lucky Devils
6613 Hollywood Blvd. 90028
Price: $$

Lucky Devils on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NY & C Pizzeria and Bar

Finally some good pizza in Santa Monica. This place is open late, sells slices, and has a good grouping of beers on tap. Not to mention a few good slice and beer/soda deals. They only have one size, 20 inch large pizza. This is a couple inches larger than your traditional large. So we got half cheese, half sausage and green peppers. It was $ 22 with tax. We did not get any Chicago style pizza, seeing as I dont know anything about that style. So this is a NY review only
It is a small cozy place with one side decorated in NY pictures and the table w/ NY times articles, the other side has Chicago items in similar fashion.
Just by looking at it, you know it is going to be good.

A thin crust, that was cooked nice and crispy with a little chewiness to it, also it had great flavor. The cheese and sauce were put on in good amounts. The sauce had a light, fresh, sweet taste to it with just the right amount of spices. It of course wasn't perfect. The main problem I had was that the size of the pizza created a soggy and floppy texture to the crust on half of every slice. What also added to this problem was the amount of grease that oozed from the sauce and cheese. I like a little grease, so this wasn't too bad to me. Though it didn't help with the sloppy center of the pizza. That being said, the crust was tough enough to hold together. It did not fall apart, it just drooped a little.
Overall it was a pretty classic pizza, very NY style. It wasn't the best but it had good flavor and was satisfying and filling and I had a good time eating it. Which is all I can ask for.

1120 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica 90401
Price: $$

NY & C on UrbanspoonNY & C Pizzeria in Los Angeles

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tomato Pie

I recently returned to Tomato Pie Pizza Joint, on Melrose. One of their 2 locations.

I heard their grandma Pie was the best, so I felt I needed to be in the loop.
So if you wish read my update for Tomato Pie.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Marcelino's Italian Kitchen

There are 2 of these in the same town, Sherman Oaks. One is more of a take out place - the one on Burbank Blvd. is for eating in. It's a pretty typical Italian restaurant, with salads, sandwiches, pastas and calzones. It seems very family oriented, maybe its the children's drawings on the tables or the actual child who took my drink order.

Me and a friend ordered a large pizza, it was about 16 inches for 13 dollars. Very reasonable. They have two sizes bigger, Family and Jumbo which are probably 18 and 20 inch pizzas.
It was definitely a decent pie. Simple, not too many spices, a light sweet sauce with good cheese and a thin and crispy crust. The crust had a corn meal bottom which I believe kept it crispy. It wasn't as thin as i could have been. It had the same thickness from the outer edge all the way to the middle. So it was the middle that could have thinned out a bit. The opposite of what the outer edge could have been. The crust was kind of tasteless and a little dry as well. Though this is all overly critical. It is a cheap pizza that seems high quality and tastes good. The place is what a pizzeria should be as well: easy going, no glitz or excessive decor and it had a sense of family which always makes a pizza taste better.
Anyway, they have a great van so they are ok in my book.
Marcelino's Italian Kitchen
13646 Burbank Blvd. Sherman Oaks 91401
818 989 0855
12910 Magnolia Blvd. Sherman Oaks 91423
818 505 1111
Price: $
Marcelino's Italian Kitchen on UrbanspoonMarcelino's Pizza Connection on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

San Gennaro Cafe

This is another Italian restaurant down the street form a slightly more casual Maria's Italian Kitchen in Brentwood Village. This place represents the Italian heritage pretty hard, it goes further than just New York, it is San Gennaro. It is one of the few places where it seemed most people working were actually Italian. Not that this makes it genuine. In fact it hypes it up more to be possibly let down. It seems like a great place to eat though, it is known for a great selection of cheap wine and apparently some good deals on pizza and happy hour. Though I don't think I got that 25% off when I went. It was after 4 on a weekday.
I got a large cheese, 18 inches for $13. Which is a pretty good price already. Their other dishes are on the pricey side but if it is pizza and wine you order, you are all set.

Notice the vibrant red color of the sauce. This is not only the first thing you notice when you look at it but also the first thing you taste.
The sauce is extremely sweet with just a pure tamato taste. It is a little to thick for me, but I was really loving the sauce. Though after one slice or two it gets to be a little too sweet. If there was less of it on the pizza it might be ok, but it got to be too much sugar. The cheese tasted pretty good nothing special. The crust was thin, but a little too bready. It would have been better had they cooked it a little longer. Perhaps it was just sitting in the box too long. When I warmed up an old slice a few hours later in the oven the crust was crispy and perfect. The dough was just pure good tasting dough. Not too much butter or oil or salt or sugar. Just good bread. A really good pie. Just not quite crispy enough and too sweet.
They have some other great toppings and specialty pizzas as well as a gluten free version. Also they offer a thicker crust for you people craving Dominos.
140 Barrington Place Brentwood Village
Price: $

San Gennaro Cafe on Urbanspoon

Maria's Italian Kitchen

Here is a common Italian restaurant, Maria's Italian Kitchen. It has been open since 1945 and since then has opened about 7 other places all over the LA area. This is the one in Brentwood. They are all run and owned by women, supposedly. It is a nice little place, thats not too fancy but not too casual.
I ordered a large cheese pizza, and I asked for basil. Basil does not come on the pizza by default I don't think, so they may have charged extra I'm not sure. Either way it came to about 18 dollars, for about a 16 inch which is a little pricy.

This pizza tasted great at first, mainly because I was hungry. It had a pretty decent thin and crispy crust, though as a result it was kind of dried out. The cheese and sauce were put on in good amounts. The sauce had a rich flavor of spices though it didn't really stand out. One slice was pretty good, but after that it was too salty and oily and dry. Perhaps I am being a bit too hard on it. The basil was good, but a little too much of it.
It was a decent pizza worthy of calling it NY style. Just not perfect, but alas I seem to have become a pizza snob.

11723 Barrington Place. Brentwood Village
Price: $$

Maria's Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Essex Public House

There is a new place in Hollywood called the Essex House. It sits on Hollywood Blvd. down around Vine. The place is pretty great. It is a low key bar with a lot of TV's for football watching. It has a pretty good menu with everything sounding good. It also has some great beers that aren't found everywhere. The happy hour is pretty great too. Outside of happy hour things are a little pricey but thats what you get when you want to hang out in a trendy place.
They have a few different pizzas. I got the Buffalo Mozz and Basil Pizza. It had roasted dried tomatoes on it, under the cheese. It was a generous 11 inches for $13. Though for happy hour, it's half off.

The big thing here was the pizza was grilled. They apparently grill the dough then put it in the oven for the second half of the cooking. It was pretty crunchy on the bottom and definitely lightly charred and crunchy on the edge. Did it make the crust any better? Yes, I think it would not have been as crunchy otherwise. Though the crust didn't have any light doughiness to it. The cheese was good but put on pretty heavy. The sauce was just average. Though the dried tomatoes really helped with the bland sauce. So did the basil.
It's not a bad pizza. I wouldn't go there specifically for it, but then again its not a pizza place it's a bar. If you happen to order the pizza you wouldn't be unsatisfied.

Price: $$
Essex Public House on Urbanspoon

Kosher Pizza

So I am not Jewish and I don't really know anything about Kosher and what it means to be Kosher or what Kosher should taste like. My understanding is Kosher just means at the most blessed food that follows any sort of rules that the religion might have. At the very least it means a place where Jews can go to be amongst other Jews.

Either way, there a quite a few of these places that specialize in pizza. I don't know if I covered them all but I feel it probably is the majority of them. For the most part they don't really hold up to my standards, but perhaps they do to yours. Though there are a couple that I feel are really good. Here are the places I have been to in order from best to worst.


So a pretty well known place amongst Kosher eateries is this one on Pico, Nagila. It is 2 places combined with a little courtyard, if you want to call it that, in the middle. One side is called the Meating Place, which is burgers and chicken and things like that, the other is pizza, no meat just dairy and veggies. It is similar in setup to some place in a food court, no specific decor. You pick up your food from the counter in multi-colored lunch trays. They have pizza by the slice which is nice. While I waited for my medium cheese pizza I was told about one of their more popular pizzas.

It was the mushroom and cheese stuffed crust pizza. On top were roasted red peppers, garlic and basil. Some younger kids were there and described it to me in a different series of praising moans, rather than complimenting words. I guess it was just too good for words. So I got it, despite the fact I don't like mushrooms. It was a pretty awesome slice of pizza. The combination of 3 of my favorite toppings. It really was divine. Then when you get to the end of what I learned to be a pretty bread-y finish you are struck with a mouthful of cheesy mushroom goodness, if you like mushrooms. I took one bite and remembered that yeah, I still don't like mushrooms. Half way through my slice my medium cheese pie was ready and so I looked like a freak that liked pizza way too much.
The downfall to the slice: it was 4.66. It was on the big side and yes it was stuffed, but come on. Too expensive.
They have some other interesting toppings as well, one with a sea of black olives, one with slices of eggplant, and many others. Of course I stuck with the cheese. A roughly 15 inch pizza for under $14. Getting a whole pie is much more cost efficient.
So it looked good as most pizzas do fresh out of the oven. I had to wait quite a while for it to cool. It had a ton of cheese on it. The sauce was put on generously as well and the crust was also a bit excessive in thickness. Overall it was a pretty heavy and filling pizza. The crust tasted pretty good, it had a somewhat crunchy bottom and was leaving a mess of cornmeal all over the place. It was just too thick and doughy for me. The sauce was pretty decent, it tasted fresh and had a strong flavor of oregano and pepper. The cheese was decent too and low on the oil and grease. It wasn't too salty either. It just had too much of everything on it for me. Other than that I would say it is pretty good pizza if thats what you are looking for.
Hav'a Nagila Day !

Nagila Pizza
9411 West Pico Blvd. LA
Price: Slice $$$ Pie: $

Nagila Kosher Pizza & Salads on Urbanspoon

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