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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

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