Classic Napoletana Pizza. That's what this is, not Middle-America pizza, not deep dish, not even N.Y. style. It is the original pizza, same recipe right from Italy. In fact this place even has some seal of approval from the Italian Pizza Gods. It is as genuine a pizza as you will find in the West, I'm sure.
NOTE: "some seal of approval" is actually called the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association. There is a link to the American division if you care to read more about it. There are actually two other places in CA with the seal. Along with many others across the country. Antica was the first in the U.S. to get the seal. Here is the seal:
Nevertheless, this does not mean the pizza is good.
It is surprising that this place has such a respected pizza. The place has a fresh clean look of something like an Apple Bee's and it is in the middle of a big mall in Marina Del Rey. So quite an unlikely place to find such great pizza. However, it is no Apple Bee's. The people working and owners are straight from Italy as is the flour and the tomatoes they use. Although I think sometimes they get their tomatoes from California. Their mozzarella cheese is made fresh in the restaurant. Their pizza is cooked in a wood fired brick oven. It is as fresh and legit as you can get.
I sat down in the place and ordered a classic Margherita pizza that comes in one individual size - 10 inches, though it seemed a generous 10 inches. It was 11 dollars.
It was a great site to see when it came to the table. The cheese was amazing, so fresh and creamy, it melted in your mouth. They were very generous with the cheese too. The sauce very light and simple. In fact I don't believe it was seasoned at all, just a simple sweet tomato taste. The crust was a major part of the pie. Probably a third to a quarter of the pizza was bare crust with no sauce or cheese on it. It had great texture to it. Crispy and chewy with a doughy inside. It all worked well, and it left me wanting more for the rest of the day. I almost stopped by another place on the way back for one more slice. I didn't want to leave a bad taste in my mouth though, so I didn't stop.
It was really great pizza, definitely the only one of its kind in L.A. If I had to complain I can compare it to Lombardi's in NY, which is a similar style, it was not as good as that. It could have used more sauce on the pizza, and it wouldn't have hurt to put a little more into the tomatoes to spice it up. There was just too much bare crust for me. Although the crust was close to perfect, it was too much. A touch dry and mostly flavorless. The cheese was the best part for me. There was a few pieces of basil that helped bring the flavors together, but mostly is was a very simple pie.
This is not my preferred style of pizza, I am more of a NY style (Joe's or Vito's) kind of guy. So out of my own preference I still hold those above this one. Next on the list though, has got to be Antica.
UPDATE: I went back recently and got the prosciutto and arugula pizza. I also got the margherita again. The prosciutto doesn't come with sauce on the pizza. In fact a lot of their specialty pizzas do not have tomato sauce. I asked if we could get it on anyway, they said yes but then brought a bowl of sauce on the side, said it would be better that way. This was fine except the sauce they brought was a marinara sauce not the same sauce that was on the margherita. This was a bit disappointing. The service was also disappointing.
The pizza was pretty similar, but this time the dough was not as crispy and had thinner and soggier middle and a doughier inside. It still had a slightly charred bottom and tasted great. If you get anything but cheese and sauce on the pizza don't expect to be able to pick it up. The bottom is too thin to support any kind of toppings. You might need the knife and fork, true Italian style. I wasn't as happy with my experience this time, but it is still a pretty good tasting pizza. Still better than Bottega Louie. I won't change anything.
Antica Pizzeria - 13455 Maxella Ave. 2nd Fl - Marina Del Rey