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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pizza World

This place some how escaped me.  I though it had been closed down for awhile but I guess that was just a couple of weeks for remodeling.  Now it is open.  So I went there and learned it was a kosher place.  One of the few that isn't obviously kosher.  This has now been my 4th kosher pizza, along with Shalom Pizza, Pizza Mayven, and La Pizza.  Of course there are many more.  

I ordered a medium, 14 inch cheese pizza for 13 dollars.  It looked pretty good.  A little greasy but thats good.  The crust was crispy on the outside but not too crispy on the bottom.  It had a nice puff to it and was a little charred.  Overall the crust was a little on the thick and gooey side but had a pretty good taste.  It had a cornmeal bottom. The cheese was pretty typical, it had a good amount of it and was lightly browned.   


The main problem here was the sauce, or the lack of it.  The cheese melted almost directly to the dough.  The little sauce that was there, dried up almost completely and just left you with some good cheesy bread.  It wasn't too dry of a pizza it just didn't have near enough sauce or sauce flavor.  
It seems like a fun place to go and bring the kids.  There is some kind of food for everyone, they do it all, from pizza to Mexican food and Jewish food as well.  I'd stick to the Jewish food, although Canters is down the street.  All I know is there is a pretty good Mexican spot right next door so I'd skip that too.  The pizza, was average.  As far as kosher pizza goes, La Pizza (kosher) beats it by a mile.  

365 S. Farifax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036 
323-653-2896
Price: $$
Overall:
Pizza World on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Make Your Own Pizza


After all my pizza experiences, the one thing  I had yet to do was make my own pizza.  So the other night, my girlfriend and I planned a pizza cooking night.  When it comes to pizza I am pretty picky and I know what I like.  When it comes to cooking, I don't know much and can't always create what I like.  So I was a bit skeptical of making my own, but it was something I had to do, to really understand what it takes.  I learned it takes a lot.  

It is not as easy as it seems.  Anyone can make an average pizza, but to make a really good pizza it can take years of experience.  I actually learned that before I even started to make the pizza, when I looked at a site called Varasano's Pizza Recipe.  This site has the most in depth instructions for making pizza on the internet.  Mr. Varasano has been in a cycle of trial and error with pizza for a long, long time.  His site is very informative and just reading it made me realize how many variables and intricacies making pizza has.
For starters, it is all about heat.  Most good pizzas are cooked in an oven that can reach at least 800 degrees, which is usually a coal or wood fired brick oven, or a deck oven.  With high temperatures, a pizza only needs to cook for a couple minutes; the dough stays moist and light while getting crispy on the outside, and the cheese doesn't burn.  I, of course, had your normal convectional oven.  Which goes to a weak 525.  I was already at a disadvantage to how good my pizza could be.  Not off to a great start.  As an alternative, you can jimmy your oven in such a way to trick it into getting hotter, but I skipped that part, for safety reasons.  
The next step, which I also skipped, was making the dough.  Although it seems pretty easy to do, you just need to plan ahead.  Instead I bought a pre-made dough at Trader Joes.  Not a cooked dough like those pre-formed Boboli's at your big grocery store.  This was a wet, uncooked dough, which actually tasted pretty good.  We proceeded to stretch out the dough into a somewhat round and flat shape on our pizza stone.  This was supposed to be the part that was the most fun and easiest.  However, the dough was not as pliable as it should have been.  Every time we stretched part of it, it would spring back.  Then, of course, we stretched it too thin, putting several holes in it right away.  After 20 minutes, we finally got it to about 12 inches.  Of course at this point we had handled it way too much and the flour was mostly gone making it stick to the stone.  Moving on...   
For the sauce I had taken down a list of Mr. Varasano's top brands and found Cento (San Marizano), which is a brand of whole Italian plum tomatoes from Italy.  I shook the can, like he said, checking for too much liquid.  Then I tasted it to make sure it was not too bitter.  I didn't think it was, but I really just didn't want to go through the process of rinsing the sauce to get rid of some of the bitter taste.  In a bowl, I crushed the whole tomatoes with my hands, then I took a potato masher to them, crushing them into a finer sauce that I sprinkled with a touch of salt, oregano and pepper. We spread the sauce on thick, making sure to not get too close to the edges.   
For cheese, I experimented with two kinds of Mozzarella One dry, Polly-O which I was pretty impressed with, and one wet fresh mozzarella.  This I liked a bit better.  It melted in more and just had a creamier taste.  Although the Polly-O was a lot better than I thought it would be.
Then with a few leaves of basil, we put it all in the 525 pre-heated oven.   

In about 10 minutes the cheese started to burn a little so we took it out.  It looked pretty great.  The crust was a golden brown and puffy and the cheese was melted nicely.
The combination of the lack of flour and the too thin crust at parts made it stick to the stone, and when I tried to scrape it off with the pizza cutter it ripped at some points.  It did not turn into a disaster though, we managed to get the slices to our plates in one piece.  So we had to use our knife and fork a little, so what.  It tasted great.  The cheese, as I said, was slightly better with the wet mozzarella.  The sauce was a little chunky, but not too much in my opinion, though I think there might have been a little too much of it, because it made parts of the crust soggy.  Of course the crust was also just too thin in parts.  Pretty good flavor, though it could have been a touch sweeter.  The crust also tasted good, but was too thin in the middle and too thick at the ends.  The thickness was pretty dense and doughy, and the outside didn't really get that crispy.  Kelly thought there was too much of a flour taste and not enough basil.  Overall though I didn't think it was that bad.  Good flavor. It was satisfying to make my own for once and I learned a lot.  Next time it will be better.  

Berardi/DiStefano Pizza
Kelly's Overall Rating:                John's Overall Rating:
                                       

Friday, April 24, 2009

Andiamo

I found this place the other day, it is kind of tucked inside a little collection of businesses. It has some interesting decor inside with a collection of antique chairs and tables, and some interesting wall paper it is a little like your grandmothers dinning room. Kind of a cool spot.

I ordered a medium cheese pizza, 14'' it was $13. When i opened the box it was an interesting sight.
The first thing you notice is the huge matte of cheese on top. This is a big problem for me. The cheese was mainly bland tasting not that creamy, either it was a low grade mozzarella or it was a low fat kind. On top of the sub par cheese there was a lot of it. The sauce continued with the theme of low quality. Again kind of bland, but very sweet. Similar to a generic tomato paste. The crust too wasn't quite right, as you can see it was cooked pretty well, it was nice and crispy on the bottom and edge.
However, it was too thick and didn't have and spring back in the edge. It was simply charred on the bottom and gooey and doughy on the inside.
This last picture looks like a pizza murder doesn't it. Don't worry the pizza was not harmed. In fact I flipped it back on the right side with out it being deformed at all. This in fact, is not normal. You can criticize all the elements of the pizza for pages and pages, not being fresh, not being cooked right, not enough of one, too much of the other, but what it comes down to is the overall taste and enjoyment and how well all the elements work together. This is why, to me, this pizza is no good. The cheese, sauce and crust didn't work together. They didn't meld together into one bite of pizza. The cheese just sat on top like it was uncomfortable and slid off after taking a bite. The sauce didn't penetrate the crust or the cheese in any way. It stayed separate. The crust, same as the rest did not mingle with the cheese and sauce. It was like each ingredient was meant for a different pie. None of it complimented each other or fit together in the same puzzle. Overall the experience was not too pleasurable, and just didn't work for me. The crispy crust was a plus but even that was not pliable, it just cracked and crumbled. So really there wasn't a whole lot to like about this pizza, unfortunately.

2815 sunset Blvd. Silverlake, CA 90026
213-483-7070
Price: $$
Overall:

Andiamo on Urbanspoon
Andiamo in Los Angeles

Thursday, April 23, 2009

La Pizza (Kosher)


I could write a whole blog on kosher pizza.  There seems to be a lot of it.  Places I didn't even know were Jewish neighborhoods are.  I went to Ameci Pizza on Burbank and Whitsett (Valley Village) and down the street I spotted a place called La Pizza.  I put kosher in parentheses to differentiate it from just LA Pizza in general.  Like the name of my blog.  So kosher is not part of it's name, I don't think, but it is kosher pizza.  The man that made my pizza told me about one of the greatest kosher pizza spots down near 3rd street and La Brea, which doesn't exist anymore.  It was called La Kosher Nostra.  What a great name.  Anyway this place had a little fame around it too.  Awhile back there was some high praise over this pizza.  The praise seems to have subsided now, people may have forgotten, but the pizza is still good.   


Other kosher pizza joints I have visited are Shalom Pizza, Pizza Mayven, and Pizza World.   

I ordered a medium pizza about 14'' it was about 15 dollars.  A little pricey.  It was pretty delicious however.  The crust was really key here.  A light and airy crust with a real crispy edge, not too crispy on the bottom but pretty good.  The sauce and cheese were just average but had good amounts of both.  Really a good crust makes a world of difference.  The crust was a bit on the thicker side, but good.  I won't go into this pizza too much, mainly because I don't remember to much of it, it was a week ago.  I know the crust was legit and kosher as well.  I can see why people had said it was good.  Kind of under the radar but I recommend it.  Not the best pizza I have had.  But I was surprised at how good it was.   

La Pizza (Kosher)
12515 Burbank Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91607
(818) 760-8198
Price: $
Overall:


La Pizza Lc on Urbanspoon

Ameci Pizza

Ameci Pizza is possibly the biggest local chain in Los Angeles.  They have about 50 locations in the greater LA area.  I have to say it tastes like a chain.  It is cheap which is what these places have going for it.  Regular price for a 14'' is $10.  Who really ever pays regular price though, other than me.  Certain days the pizza $7, and I'm sure there is a book of coupons that can be used.  According to the sign they have a 2.99 lunch special, which I have no idea what that includes.
Like I said the pizza tastes like a mass produced generic pie.  Anything that comes out of a conveyor oven is probably going to stink.  It wasn't all bad.  As I have said many times, bad pizza is usually still satisfying.  The crust was surprisingly crispy and thin, which isn't to say it was crispy or thin just more so than I expected.  The sauce was actually very tasty.  Extremely sweet. The cheese was pretty basic but had a good amount to go with the sauce.  Of all the cheap, conveyor pizzas this might be one of the best.  Again that is saying almost nothing. 
You need to be aware of the type of pizza you are getting into, before going. Don't be fooled by thinking it might be some buried treasure from N.Y. that nobody has heard of.  If you want cheap pizza and don't care about quality, Ameci is the place.  

12450 Burbank Blvd # HNorth HollywoodCA (reviewed)
(818) 509-1666
Price: $
Overall:
Ameci Pizza & Pasta on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Coachella Pizza 2009


Well  it's that time of year again.  Festival time.  The first in the lineup is Coachella.  I went to it for the first time last year.  So now, as a veteran I can shed some light on the pizza.  Some great music.  Franz Ferdinand is great, and The Killers rocked the house.  People watching is always the best here.  Last year it was all about the Raybans and head bands.  This year it was more of the same, but louder and bigger colors, crazier glasses and clothing. Crazy mustaches was a thing, it seemed.  

The food was the same.  As to be expected there are pizza vendors everywhere.  Returning from last year, was "I (heart) Spicy Pie" a great place where you can get  jalapeno's on the pizza.  For the full review of this place and last Coachella 2008 check out my other posting.
I got a slice from I (heart) Spicy Pie again, because I can not say no to jalapenos.  It was a bit disappointing this time, perhaps I was not drunk enough.  Of course the big thing about festival pizza is consistency.  The time of day you go can mean the difference between a fresh well cooked pizza or a cold dried out pizza.  Unfortunately I went at the wrong time, because it was not as good this time.  The was practically no cheese, dried up tomato sauce and only 2 pieces of  jalapenos. I made the girl working put more on top, but these were uncooked ones and did not give the same effect.
 
 
However later in the weekend I found another pizza stand.  Maybe this was there last year too, I am not sure.  On the front they just have a sign that says NY PIZZA SLICES, very simple.  The name of the business is actually "Pie for the People"  I only know that because I asked.  This pizza was unbelievably good.  Again maybe the circumstances were different for this one.  Perhaps I drank more than I thought I did, or perhaps I managed to get one right out of the oven.  They were flying pizza of the counter so fast, I think everyone got a fresh slice.  


The crust was great.  Thin and crispy, and a big slice too.  I don't usually like "the big slice" but when you pay 7 dollars for it you want a big slice.  They had, I guess you could say more sophisticated pies.  I got one with pesto, tomato mozzarella and goat cheese? or was it feta, probably feta.  They had several different kinds.  With every bite you got a wonderful flavor of pesto and tomatoes and cheese on a nice crispy crust.  It was superb.  Again, maybe this is the alcohol talking, but I think it was as good as any of the best places in LA and maybe even some in N.Y.  It made me wish I didn't spend my money on that Spicy Pie.  So next time you are at a festival look for pie for the people.  I think they are going to be at Bonnaroo for anyone who goes to that.  


Pie for the People - Festivals around CA  
Price: normally $$$$$  outrageous  (for a festival $$)
Overall:

Happy 1 year Anniversary to ME !

I don't really remember dates so this is not an official anniversary.  But it has been roughly a year since I started this blog, I have compiled a data base of roughly 120 different pies.  I spent about $1,700 last year on pizza alone.  I wasted who knows how many hours writing this stuff and probably gained an extra 20 pounds.  Actually I don't think I gained anything, I still think pizza is healthy. 


Anyway I want to thank everyone out there for visiting my site and an extra thanks if this is the second time you were here.  I hope to continue this project forever or at least another year.  I hope to get all the pizza in the city catalogued and hopefully it can become the main data base for pizza in LA. Pick your style of pizza or your location and decide the best pizza for you and who knows maybe be able to look at a menu and order the pizza right from my site.  This is the dream and I hope you are all with me, 'cause then I'm on to other cities, if I'm not dead by then, from all the cholesterol.

I am only one man and can not do all this alone however.  So I continue to urge you all to post comments on your views of the pizza and of any ideas or ways I can make the site better or more useful.  I am not too web savvy so if anyone knows how to tame the internet I could use you.  And if you want to donate to the greater cause I will except, money that is.  Of course you won't do that, so I guess thats rhetorical.   

Thanks for the hits - Good luck, there is a lot of bad pizza out there, but I eat the bad pizza, so you don't have to.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

D'amores Pizza

The UCLA campus has a lot of kids who like pizza, so naturally there are a lot of pizza joints to fill their mouths. There is a little area called Westwood Village just south of the campus, where you can find many college aged kids, thus many pizza places, including,  Enzo's,  Lamonica's, and D'Amores.  This is what I call the UCLA big 3.... I guess.   I hit them all up at once.  After some smaller ones like, Italian Express, and Angelino's I went to D'Amore's Famous Pizza.  Using a page out of Famous Rays book.  In fact it's kind of like Ray's because there are many names for it, D'Amore's Famous Pizza, D'Amore's Pizza Connection, or just plain D'Amore's.  Either way I think they are all the same owner.  
D'amore's actually has pizza by the slice, which is rare out here.  In N.Y. they would have a sign especially to say they DON'T have slices.  So once again, L.A. the opposite of N.Y.  Of course in this neighborhood it might be the trend, I believe Lamonica's and Enzo's both have slices too.  
D'Amore's has many locations.  Soon to be 7, I believe.  So how does the slice hold up from one to the next is something for a whole other blog.  For now I will assume that this location is the same as the rest.  
I ordered a medium I believe it was 14'' for 16$ but I can't quite remember.  It was a cheese and this is what it looked like:

It actually wasn't too bad.  The sauce was pretty light and sweet.  The cheese was light as well.  The flavor over all was kind of bland tasting.  There was some spice sprinkled on the top but it didn't seem to have much effect.  There was one flavor however, that was throwing me off.  Something that just seemed a little unusual about it.  I couldn't put my finger on it and I couldn't really say that I liked it.  So it wasn't completely bland.  The crust was extra thin and extra crispy.  It had a cornmeal bottom. 
(I want to make an observation here and someone can tell me if I am wrong, but I feel like every time the crust has cornmeal on the bottom, it is crispy.  Probably this is just coincidence, but is it possible that the crust cooks differently with cornmeal than it does with flour?) 
Anyway the crust was pretty good, a little too thin and crispy for my liking, it lacked a chewy or doughy texture to it.  It was just crunchy all the way through.  It had a little substance in between, not like Stone Fire Pizza, which is my go to, overly thin and crispy crust.

So bottom line is that the pizza is not the best by any means and a little pricey too I have to say. However, it does stand out from Enzo's and Lamonica's and even Italian Express which is something some people may enjoy.  Enzo's is a similarly bland pizza but much greasier and heavier than D'Amore's.  Lamonica's is the only place that claims N.Y. style pizza and is really the farthest from it out of the 3.  With a thicker buttery crust.  So thats the low down in Westwood Village.  I won't say what's better, I'll let you decided which style you like.

For other pizza in this area click here

*VIDEO COMING SOON


1136 Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles (reviewed location) 310-209-1212
7137 Winnetka ave Canoga Park -- 22601 PCH Malibu -- 2869 E Thousand Oaks Blvd Thousand Oaks 
300 N Lantana, Camarillo -- 18663 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana -- Coming SOON 3rd Street Hollywood
Price: $$
Overall:


D'Amore's Pizza on UrbanspoonD'Amore's Pizza on UrbanspoonD'Amore's Pizza on UrbanspoonD'Amore's Pizza Connection on UrbanspoonD'Amore's Pizza Connection on Urbanspoon

Angelino's Cafe

The UCLA campus has a lot of kids who like pizza, so naturally there are a lot of pizza joints to fill their mouths. There is a little area called Westwood Village just south of the campus, where you can find many college aged kids, thus many pizza places, including Enzo's, Lamonica's and D'Amore's. I hit them all up at once. After Italian Express, I went to another small unknown place called Angelino's. Known on google as La Subs & Pizza.

The store front looks like a fancy Italian restaurant. However, inside it is anything but. It is just a counter and a few tables. With 2 older gentlemen inside, one doing the cooking and the other doing the sit down and relax job. I was told they were not going to be there long, the business was going to relocate to Pasadena.
They have 2 sizes. Medium and mini. Thats the sizes, medium which was only 10 inches and mini which was get this, 4 inches. Bite sized almost. So I got the 10 inch for 9$. A bit pricy for the size. They asked me if I wanted cheese or Margherita, I was confused by the question they said basil comes on the margherita, I like basil so thats what I got. There was a lot of it.
Despite the amount of basil on top it wasn't that strong a flavor. The cheese was a huge part of it. Tons and tons of cheese. It was a good tasting creamy cheese but just too much for me. Amazingly with all the cheese you could still taste the sauce, which wasn't all that bad. The crust though was no good. It was just soft and dough, it had zero texture wasn't chewy or crispy. Just cooked, floppy, soggy dough. It looks like it was made with a lot of care, which I respect, the crust was braided together nicely. But it just wasn't that good.

For other pizza in this area click here

*VIDEO COMING SOON

Angelino's Cafe - 310-443-1918
10874 Kinross Ave.
Westwood, CA 90024
Open:
Mon-Fri 11am-9pm Sat: 11:30-7:30 Sunday: Closed
Price: $
Overall:

Angelino's in Los Angeles

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