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Monday, March 30, 2009

Bossa Nova

"Perhaps this is the way Brazilians do it."
Here is yet another place that doesn't specialize in pizza, and yet another place that my girlfriend Kelly would tell me not to bother with. Not because it isn't good, I have eaten there more times than not, and it is a great place. It just isn't strictly about pizza, even though they have more than 20 different toppings combinations. Which in my opinion, are some of the best topping a place can have. The place as you can see is labeled brazilian cuisine, which seems to be similar to Italian except with more skirt steak and hummus. This of course is a very laymen observation on culinary culture. I only know pizza, and pizza is Italian, or greek as some people say. Anyway...
Like I said, they have many different toppings, that all sound appealing. I ordered a simple prosciutto, mozzarella and oregano on half, the other half Margherita. The large 16'', is between 15 and 20 dollars depending on what you get.
The pizza I always remembered being pretty good here. Perhaps being in a restaurant setting especially one that does not specialize in pizza, makes you think of pizza differently almost out of context from other great pizzas. You expect something different or perhaps you expect nothing at all. Today I picked up a pizza like I have with every other place, and I expected everything. Unfortunately I was let down.
I could tell there was something wrong when he handed me the box. I had to hold it with 2 hands because it so was heavy. The reason of course, as you can see was the cheese. It was put on heavy, really heavy. I have to say the cheese was fresh and milky tasting and tasted very good, just way, way too much of it. Then you throw the prosciutto on top and the whole thing is a mess, the floppy thin crust can't support the rest of the pizza. Luckily after 10 minutes the cheese gets pulled off when you grab a slice and the crust doesn't need to support the cheese because it already fell off. The crust is the same story, very dense and bready, not crispy at all. This was cooked in a wood fired oven, even. Again the crust tasted pretty good and wasn't dry, so it was enjoyable to eat, but to thick in the back and too flimsy in the middle. The sauce between these two monsters was barely tastable. Even the strong basil leaves had trouble staying afloat and reaching your taste buds with all the cheese.

So unfortunately, when you stack it up to the others it isn't any better than average. The ingredients are fresh but the ratio and overall style and technique are off. Perhaps this is the way the Brazilians do it. I love the place I love the food and one day when I am eating there I'll probably order the pizza again, but I won't ever look at it the same way. (It is like the pizza cheated on me...)

Bossa Nova - 7181 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood (reviewed location)
212 S. Beverly Drive Beverly hills
685 N. Robertson Blvd West Hollywood
10982 W. Pico Blvd. West LA
Price: $$

Bossa Nova on Urbanspoon
Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine on Urbanspoon
Bossa Nova on Urbanspoon

Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine in Los Angeles

Michelangelo Ristorante

"Perhaps I should not even waste my time with places that don't specialize in pizza..."

I don't know why it is, but Italian Restaurants don't usually have great pizza.  This of course is from my experience ordering pizza from Italian restaurants which have been few, but that is what I have found.  I guess pizza, for as simple as it is, takes a wealth of knowledge to be able to do it right.  Is it possible that spinach and ricotta ravioli or an antipasti salad are easier to make than a pizza?  

Anyway, I guess there is no surprise here that I was not impressed with Michelangelo's pizza.  Perhaps I should not even waste my time with places that don't specialize in pizza, like my girlfriend Kelly would tell me. 

I don't think it is fair to judge the rest of the food like I judged the pizza.  So for all I know the other food is to die for, I have heard.  However I will say this, if you go there do not order the pizza, not because the pizza is horrible ('cause its not) but because the other dishes should be better and if they are not better than the pizza, then nobody should be going there at all.  
So with that I'm not even going to bother breaking down the pizza.  It was almost $12 for a 16 inch which is pretty good.  Other than that is was just so average.  It was very thin and chewy and I ate the whole thing so not too filling.  Lots of basil as you can see.  
The bottom line, don't go there for the pizza.  If you need any more reasons why, here is the biggest one of all, Nicky D's is next door.  Right next door.  This is not the best pizza in L.A. as some people say, but it is really good.  So there you go, thats all you need to know about the pizza at Michelangelo's.  Buona Sera !

Michelangelo Ristorante - 2427 Rowena Ave. 90039
Price: $

Michelangelo on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cheech's Pizza

Cheech's Pizza is a place in Los Feliz down the street from another devilish pizza place.  This one is more experienced.  It has been there for about 15 years.  I'm not sure why it is called Cheech's,  perhaps at some point there was some guy who was named Cheech or maybe they put a lot of weed in their pizza.  It is you typical run of the mill pizza joint.  Not dressed up in any fancy way like Lucifers.  The price is right too.  It says 2 for 1 on the menu, so Im guessing you can get 2 large pizzas (15'') for 18$.  I just got one, it was 10.  Cheese, as usual.

It always surprises me when I get a pizza that is different from the others.  How can such a simple food after hundreds of different places, still have a unique taste.  But it does.  Cheech's,  another place that I thought would be just like the rest, again stands out as a different pizza than any other. 
The pizza may have been only 15 inches, but it was very filling.  The crust is a thick and heavy, doughy, buttery crust.  The middle of course is a thinner crust.  But as the crust moves to the outer edge,  it gets really thick really quick.  Now I don't prefer a thick crust like this, but the dough itself tasted really fresh and good.  Really a unique texture, so doughy it was almost raw tasting, in a good way.  But then it was browned pretty good on top.  Despite being cooked hard on top, the nature of the crust did not allow it to get crispy at all.  
The cheese and sauce worked well together, good amounts of both.  The sauce again had a unique flavor.  It was heavy on the spices, but still managed to be light and sweet. 
(I don't know why this picture is rotated this way.  But I figured, pizza is round so it doesn't matter which way the picture goes.)
Anyway, the pizza overall to me, was just about average.  If you like a lot of good tasting dough then maybe this is the place for you.  Everything tasted good, definitely unique, but nothing here to write home about.  

Cheech's Pizza - 2116 N. Hillhurst Ave. Los Feliz
Price: $

Cheech's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lucifer's Pizza

Lucifers definitely has an original theme going for it.  Devil inspired, it looks more like a club from the outside than a pizza joint.  Plus it has "Damned good pizza" or so they say.  Also to go with the theme they will spice up the pizza with hot sauce I think.  You can choose your level of chilli's.  A few things they claim are: flame cooked, I guess opposed to microwave cooked.  Also they say they get their dough delivered from N.Y., so how fresh can it be ?  The place opened about 5 months ago, it appears they are a place that will be known for their toppings.  Lots of crazy combinations, including pumpkin and prosciutto with garlic, basil and spinach.  I got that.
NBC is a critic now I guess.  
Anyway I still had to stick with the basic cheese pizza, so I got half cheese and half pumpkin/prosciutto.  It was 16 inches, which for a cheese would have been 13 dollars.  The half and half came to 17.  
It looked pretty good when it came out.  Large crust bubbles, everyone loves those.  I popped them all by myself.  The crust was on the thick side, very doughy.  It was not crispy at all, not on the bottom or on the edge, just bready.  It was a light, good tasting dough however  Even coming all the way from NY it tasted fresh.  The sauce was pretty tasty as well, I would say the highlight.  It was a very light, sweet and tomatoey sauce.  The cheese was good and fresh too, however a little too much of it.   
Here is a close up on the pumpkin/prosciutto/garlic/basil/spinach pizza.  I will say the flavors worked pretty well together.  The pumpkin was a subtle sweet flavor that worked with the tomatoes and offset the strong garlic taste and the salty taste of the meat I enjoyed the toppings a lot.  
Overall I'd say this pizza is definitely a quality pie, with quality ingredients and crazy toppings.  It is no NY style slice, my preferred variety.  It is the more filling thicker variety that is common across the nation.  Nevertheless, very tasty.     

Here is a crazy video of my venture:

Lucifers - 1958 Hillhurst Ave Los Feliz 
Prices: $

Lucifers Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Greenwich Village Pizzeria

To my surprise I found a small pizza joint tucked in between a coffee bean and a gay bar in West Hollywood. I had no idea it was there. It's actually a pretty cool place, with outside seating. I ordered a 14 inch cheese for 14 dollars. Actually it was half jalapenos. I didn't plan on ordering it but the guy on the phone kept saying jalapenos every time I asked him what the sizes of pizzas were, so finally I caved and decided that jalapenos were a good idea. I have to say I am a sucker for jalapenos on pizza.

Turns out they were not such a good idea. It was about 100 degrees today and those peppers were so spicy, as I sat in my car I was just dripping sweat. So that's pretty appetizing, huh?
Anyway the pizza wasn't half bad. It was very oily on top. The crust was very thin and had a good doughy texture and a crispy texture on the outside. The dough was pretty buttery and flakey. Not the freshest dough in town, no doubt. The sauce was kind of a thicker, spicier sauce that was just subtly sweet. It had a lot of other spices going on. The cheese was kind of generic and greasy, but overall it didn't taste to bad. Definitely a heavier, greasier taste similar to Two Boots. Not quite up to par on quality however. But satisfying. Especially after the bars.
I didn't mention the jalapenos. I guess thats because they were pretty standard. The heat level was up there pretty high, but I think they put on the right amount. They were cooked in with the sauce and cheese pretty well.

Here is a video of my experience:

Greenwich Village Pizzeria - 8937 Santa Monica Blvd. W.Hollywood 90069

Greenwich Village Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Endings Bar

Happy Endings is not a pizza joint nor is it a restaurant. First and foremost it is a bar. A bar that is loud and annoying, in my experience. I would never go there if they didn't have a lot of well positioned TV's for football watching at 10 in the morning. When I go there to watch football, I often end up getting the food. Which isn't all that bad. For what it is, bar food, it is dressed up to be a little fancier, and with that comes: over priced.
Regardless, I have managed to catch glimpses of the pizza as it went by, and have eaten a slice or two here and there. I always discounted the pizza, because it is a bar and because I don't like the place. However, recently I had a slice and thought I should review it, because it is in fact not that bad.
I ordered what I was told was 16 inches, it actually was closer to 18 inches, and the price was about 16 dollars. So not too bad.
Initially I was pretty impressed with this pizza. It has a light sweet tomato sauce, with a good amount of cheese, and a fairly crispy crust. Of course after I got deeper into it, I realized it didn't have all that much flavor. Just kind of greasy and salty from the cheese. Thats about it, the dough didn't have anything to it and the sauce was just there. The amount of sauce and cheese and the overall structure of the dough was all right and good. It just didn't wow me. The cooler the pizza got, the less I wanted any. Plus the crust wasn't really crispy enough, and it got pretty chewy as the minutes ticked by.

9 times out of 10 the people eating this pizza will have been drinking, therefore their rational thinking would make them believe that the pizza was amazing. Of course I don't doubt that completely sober people might think this too. I wish it was better, but it's just above average. Of course I'd be happy to eat it after several beers.
Happy Endings - 7038 Sunset Blvd. Hollywood
Price: $$

Happy Ending Bar on Urbanspoon

Philly Pizza & Grill

Today I took a drive down to small place in a strip mall that advertises Philly Pizza.  I don't know if there is such a thing, but if there is I don't think this was it.  This place is also known for their cheese steaks, so the manager lady said.  I am very interested in what it would taste like, but thats another review for another blog.  Besides, if it was anything like their pizza it probably isn't worth the drive.  
I ordered a small 12 inch cheese.  I had just eaten a pizza from Greenwich Village Pizza, so I really didn't need any more.  The pizza was about  9 dollars, which isn't as cheap as I thought it would be.  The pizza was your basic, every-town, generic, filling pie.  Out of this grouping of pizza however it wasn't that bad.  The crust was thinner than most, and it wasn't as greasy as others are.  The cheese was put on thick, but the sauce was light and had a very fresh tomato taste.  Not too much flavor.  The crust was on the thin side but still mostly doughy.    

There isn't much to say about this, that hasn't already been said about a ton of other places.  It's your typical delivery pizza.  Probably better than domino's, but this is L.A. not Middleburg,  Missouri.  We don't need to settle for average.  Will you be satisfied, sure.  Will it be an experience you will want to do again and again until your doctor says you should switch to salads, no not at all.  In fact you will probably be willing to eat more salads if this is what you ate everyday.  

Philly Pizza & Grill - 8500 W. Olympic Blvd.  90035
in Beverly Hills? (the sketchiest part of Beverly hills)
Price: $

Philly Pizza & Grill on Urbanspoon

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: $$

Ciaocristina! on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Casa Bianca

Finally I went to a little place called Casa Bianca.  It is a pretty cool Italian restaurant inside, a nice cozy interior.  This is a fairly highly rated pizza.  Hailed as one of the best pizzas in LA.  It is not the pizza place itself that is saying this, it is the actual customers, for once.  I ordered my usual, a large cheese.  It was 16 inches 15 dollars.   

The first thing I noticed when I opened the box, was that it had a sloppy appearance.  Sauce and cheese swirling around with no direction.  Also the cuts of the pizza, the slices, seemed to be every which way.  The man with the pizza cutter went on a wild rampage.  After looking closer, there was a system to it.  They didn't cut all the way to the center, instead they cut smaller pieces around the perimeter, leaving diamond shaped pieces in the center, with no outer crust.  This might appeal to people who don't like the naked crust.  I feel like that part is somewhat necessary to the experience.  No complaints their however, since I was the only one eating it, I ate all the crust pieces.     
The next thing you notice is how flat the crust is.  It is extremely thin and stays thin all the way to the edge.  The thin crust can barely hold the weight of the sauce and cheese.  Anyway, I can see why people like it.  It has a great, full flavor with hints of basil and oregano, yet still having a sweet tomato base.  Everything works together, there is the right amount of cheese on the right amount of sauce, on a thin crispy crust.  The cheese isn't all that amazing, it is just there.  My main complaint was the crust, as it is usually.  The outer edge was good, crispy and slightly charred.  But the rest, while thin, didn't get all that crispy.  It had a strange texture to it, similar to cardboard.  It instead was chewy and tough with a bland taste.        
This pizza is good don't get me wrong.  I just don't think it is worth all the hype, and it is certainly not worth a 30 minute drive.  There are 2 other notable places in this area, Folliero's and Brownstone.  Brownstone is a very similar style to Casa Bianca, where as Follier'os is a thicker, heftier pie, both are just as good as the White House.

here is a video of my review if you wish:

Also a few thing that you might want to know.  It is cash only, and there can be quite a wait on the weekends.  

Casa Bianca - 1650 Colorado Blvd. Eagle Rock 90041
Price: $

Casa Bianca Pizza Pie on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 9, 2009

Palermo Ristorante Italiano

Today I went to Palermo an Italian restaurant, which I don't usually include in my reviews but I was driving by and I had heard good things.  These good things were of the pasta however, not the pizza.  I ordered a large cheese Pizza.  It was 16 inches for 15 dollars.    
It seemed like a cool place to go eat, lots of different wine on display when you walk in.  The pizza looked pretty good initially, a little cheesy and greasy.  
It was indeed cheesy.  Really, really cheesy.  The cheese tasted pretty good, pure mozzarella.  Just way too much of it.  I couldn't even taste the sauce because of all the cheese.  I feel like the sauce was a little heavy, like a pasta sauce and not sweet enough but who could tell with all the cheese.  The crust was a whole other story.  A little too thick and doughy.  It gradually got thicker as you went out to the edge.  The texture was different, kind of flakey and light on the outside, not necessarily crispy.  Kind of like some kind of pastry.  It had cornmeal on the bottom.  The crust tasted pretty good along with the cheese, it just had the wrong amount and texture of both.  
The bottom line is another pizza place, Il Capriccio is basically across the street, if you need pizza and you live in this area, go there.  Palermo is for a sit down Italian dinner, not pizza.

Here is a video exploration of Palermo Restaurant if you really want more

Palermo Ristorante Italiano - 1858 N. Vermont Ave.  Los Feliz
Price: $

Palermo Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon

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