THE UP­PER CRUST

SOME OF L.A.’S BEST CHEFS ARE PAINSTAK­INGLY PER­FECT­ING THEIR… PIZZA DOUGH? IT’S A MOVE­MENT EVEN THE CITY’S HEALTH OB­SESSED CAN’T DENY.

Los Angeles Confidential - - Contents - BY KATHRYN ROMEYN

Some of LA’s best chefs are painstak­ingly per­fect­ing their… pizza dough?

It turns out An­ge­lenos do eat carbs—at least in the form of ex­pertly crafted Neapoli­tan pizza. With top-se­cret-recipe doughs de­signed to be lighter and more eas­ily di­gested, as well as ex­quis­ite top­pings, LA pizza has spawned a city-wide craze—and a few new places to en­joy a pie this year. Sure, Sotto’s per­fect margherita, the bur­rata-topped “LA Woman” at Jon & Vinny’s, and Nancy Sil­ver­ton’s much-loved Mozza piz­zas are not go­ing any­where, but the city’s in­creas­ing out­put is rais­ing the bar. “It’s like the sky’s the limit,” says Piz­zana co­founder Can­dace Nel­son. “In LA we don’t have the his­tory of pizza like in Chicago or New York, so it’s free­ing—we can play with it.”

Piz­zana (11712 San Vi­cente Blvd., LA, 310-481-7108; piz­zana .com) is a prod­uct of kismet. Ac­tor Chris O’Don­nell and his wife, Caro­line, hired sought-af­ter Ital­ian-bred piz­zaiolo Daniele Uditi to make pies for their fa­mous Sun­day pizza par­ties; when Sprin­kles founders Can­dace and Charles Nel­son at­tended, a business was born. “We talked about what makes the per­fect cupcake; Daniele talked about what makes the per­fect dough—it’s all in the de­tails,” says Can­dace Nel­son. The quin­tet’s bright, in­ti­mate Brent­wood eatery makes “slow dough” (which rises and proofs over two days) for its neo-Neapoli­tan pies such as Uditi’s ca­cio e pepe and “Mes­si­cana” twists on tra­di­tion.

“IF THE PIZZA IS MADE WELL, WITH

HIGH-QUAL­ITY IN­GRE­DI­ENTS, AN­GE­LENOS

ARE RE­ALLY RE­CEP­TIVE. THE IN­DUL­GENCE

HAS TO BE WORTH IT.”—scott co­nant

Also fos­ter­ing a neigh­bor­hood vibe with cheesy­chic cre­ations is Scott Co­nant, of the late Scar­petta, who is pro­duc­ing pizza for the first time in LA at WeHo’s The Ponte Ris­torante (8265 W. Bev­erly Blvd., LA, 323746-5130; the­p­on­tela.com). He’s riff­ing on classics— atop a fine-tuned crust made from Ca­puto dou­ble-zero flour, sea salt, ice wa­ter, and fresh yeast—with cool-luxe com­bos such as squash blos­som with an­chovy but­ter and pickled Fresno chilies. Says Co­nant, “If the pizza is made well, with high-qual­ity in­gre­di­ents that have been thought­fully sourced, An­ge­lenos are re­ally re­cep­tive. The in­dul­gence needs to be worth it.”

The calo­ries are well spent, too, at Lodge Bread (11918 Wash­ing­ton Blvd., LA, 424-384-5097; lodge­bread.com), where de­mand for the bak­ery’s week­end pizza par­ties ne­ces­si­tated a full-time menu. Now, in its ex­panded West­side space, own­ers Alex Pha­neuf and Or Am­salam (2017 James Beard semi­fi­nal­ists) are pro­duc­ing five dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties daily, in­clud­ing their cult-fa­vorite mush­room, whose crust is made with an or­ganic sour­dough starter. “It’s a big, airy, blown-out crust that melts in the mouth,” says Pha­neuf.

Dough is some­thing chef Evan Funke of Ab­bot Kin­ney’s new Felix (1023 Ab­bot Kin­ney Blvd., Venice, 424-387-8622; fe­lixla.com) takes se­ri­ously, too—he spent time in Naples, and con­tin­ues to per­fect his cor­ni­cione (crust) us­ing a mix of Ital­ian and Amer­i­can flours. He’s chas­ing “airi­ness—I want it to be light as a feather.” Funke talks of the al­limpor­tant mixed-by-hand recipe with rev­er­ence, and con­sid­ers the margherita a bench­mark for all other pizza out­put. “It’s the dough and three in­gre­di­ents—it’s very hard to hide be­hind that. Any­thing be­yond is just win­dow dress­ing.”

At his months-old Cosa Buona in Echo Park

(2100 W. Sun­set Blvd., LA, 213-908-5211; cos­abuona .com), for­mer Sotto part­ner Zach Pol­lack (also of Ali­mento) is on a mis­sion to com­bine the best of con­ven­tional and ar­ti­sanal pizza styles for a re­sult he says is “very rec­og­niz­able and per­plex­ingly, stag­ger­ingly good.” The se­cre­trecipe dough is fer­mented and hy­drated to give the chewy, lightly blis­tered crust enough body to stand up to es­sen­tial top­pings like spinach and ri­cotta or Cana­dian ba­con and pineap­ple. “Over­all the taste should re­mind of the piz­zas of one’s youth— on steroids,” he says. Buon ap­petito to that.

Slices of heaven: At LA’s di­vine-est din­ing spots, the spot­light is on pizza with a big dose of piz­zazz, in­clud­ing Zach Pol­lack’s tra­di­tional fa­vorites “on steroids” at his new Cosa Buona in Echo Park (here) and classics with a twist at the West­side’s Piz­zana (be­low) and Felix (bot­tom).

James Beard semi­fi­nal­ists

Alex Pha­neuf and Or Am­salam pro­duce five dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of pizza per­fec­tion a day at their ex­panded eatery, Lodge

Bread, in­clud­ing their pop­u­lar English pea and bur­rata pie. be­low: Celeb

chef Scott Co­nant’s buzzy/idyl­lic The Ponte.

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