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Monday, March 16, 2009

Ciao Cristina

This is a place in Toluca Lake, across from Warner Bros. It looks like it'd be cool. It has a lot of good imported draft beer, and a lot of flavors of gelato, plus it has a great smell of pizza inside. Something about it got my hopes up. I ordered their large cheese pizza which is 16 inches and it was after tax 17. A little expensive for what it was.

I visited this place within 3 weeks of it opening, so as to be expected there were some things that still needed some tweaking. Including the way they cook their pie. As stated by the owner below in the comments, they made some adjustments and the pizza that is pictured below is not what you are going to get, hopefully. The first time I ate it, as you can see, it was over cooked. As a result the crust became brittle and crunchy and dry. The sauce and the cheese both dried out. Despite it not being cooked right, it had good flavor and I could tell it had potential, so I was willing to give it another chance. I now bring you the new review of their current pizza.

This time the pizza was cooked just right. It was still very thin, and had a good crispiness to it but also had a good doughy middle, or gum line as the owner called it. The crust was light, chewy, doughy and crispy all at the same time, with good flavor. It's amazing the drastic difference when you just cook the pizza slightly less. This time I got the margherita pizza instead of the cheese. The difference is there are good amounts of fresh, pure mozzarella spots rather than a mixture of shredded and not as fresh mozzarella. Also, basil is on the margherita, which usually doesn't make a huge difference but they don't mess around with the basil. They bring it on full force. Whole basil leaves as big as dollar bills, 2 to a slice covered the pizza. Surprisingly though, I didn't find the basil flavor too over powering. Though I like basil so I didn't mind as much. Also perhaps the parmesan cheese that they add to the top might disguise some of the basil flavor.
The sauce was the same, though I could taste it more in the margherita style. It was a little chunky with great flavor. A little sweet but mixed with a lot of other rich flavors, that made it seem almost like a marinara sauce for pasta, which I am not usually a fan of for pizza but this time it worked.
This seems like it might be a genuine Italian place that anyone should be happy it is near by. It is something this area needs. I don't doubt the rest of the food is pretty good, and you can't go wrong with Gelato, or at least beer. Plus they have some great ginger ale and other sodas from Boylan's. This pizza was really flavorful, the crust was cooked close to perfection and everything tasted fresh and put together with care. Much improved from the beginning. I'd go back for sure.
The pizza pictured got a generous 3 rating. The new and improved pizza which I don't have a picture got a whole rank higher.

4201 W. Olive Toluca Lake
Price: $$
Overall:

Ciaocristina! on Urbanspoon

7 comments:

  1. We've eaten there once, and thought it was heaven. My whole family LOVED the pizza, and we're picky. We love thin crust, and the flavor was great. The owner also makes a lovely capuccino--no bitterness, great foam.

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  2. One of the worst pizza I have ever had. The manager and waiters are rude and despicable. Don't ever go to this dump ever!

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  3. I LOVE this place!!! They serve my favorite type of pizza and the bartender was fun and HOT!!! I don't think I met the manager, but the owner was really friendly and talked our ear off! Great gelato, too!!!

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  4. Ate there last week with my wife and friends and we loved it. Alan and Cristina are awesome and we wish them nothing but success. Try it, you'll like it!

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  5. We at the CiaoCistina! family are hearing what you are saying. The original dough formula was first made for a wood fired oven with a shorter bake. Since the review by JAB we have tweaked the dough a little to take out the hard bite and have switched cheese vendors, which, in our opinion, has made the pizza better. We are always striving to improve, in fact last week we changed the size of our 10" dough ball to make it thinner.
    Our pizza is a mix between Italian and New York style. In Northern Italian food moderation is key and we do not overdress our food.
    We appreciate and welcome your comments and I would invite you to give us another try. At the time of your review we had only been open 3 weeks.
    I am also confused how to post this but my email is alan@ciaocristina.com

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  7. The pizza at Ciao Christina is inconsistent. I've eaten there about five times total. When it's good it's absolutely amazing. But I've also had the pizza delivered warm/cold to the table. It may have been out on the counter while the rest of the food was being made for our table.

    Their salads alone are worth the trip. They have a salad that's like an East coast antipasto (I forget the name of it), but it's a show-stopper.

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