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.
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 semifinalistsAlex Phaneuf and Or Amsalam produce five different varieties of pizza perfection a day at their expanded eatery, LodgeBread, including their popular English pea and burrata pie. below: Celebchef Scott Conant’s buzzy/idyllic The Ponte.