Wednesday, July 28, 2010

LA: The Sequel

I unclogged my bathroom sink today. Hooray.

In other more appetizing news:

Two LA slice joints had the dubious honor of my bum in their seats.

Tomato Pie is a kinda hole-in-the-wall greasy slice joint. It's cramped, with bar seating around the circumference, and seemingly without air conditioning. It the kind of place that could be a hive of scum and villainy (and I mean that in the best way).  While it ain't gonna be the origin of a pizza revolution, they churn out some very decent slices.

The Sunny Los Angeles Exterior

On the left we have their Margherita slice. On the right we have a slice of their Tomato Pie.
I sampled their simplest offerings. The Margherita was pretty straight forward tomato cheese and basil, while the tomato pie offered a marinara with a kick, sprinkled with some parsley and romano. 

While the undersides revealed themselves to be on the golden-brown side of things, they were pleasantly crisp without being crackery. The winner here is the tomato pie, which might be described as a grandma-style (or nonna-style), with an olive oil-infused, pan-baked crust, and a sauce that's tart, sweet, and spicy.

For dessert I went to Vito's and tried their margherita-esque slice featuring globs of fresh mozz and a uniformly super-thin crust:

Whoever the architect of this slice was, did not really think things all the way through. Vito's thin crust does not have the kind of structural integrity required to hold the weight of cuts of cheese that thick and and fresh tomato slice. So really, I ended up eating some cheese, then some tomato, then some crust, more cheese, and more crust. Disjointed is my best description. Also the slice was over $5.

Given that I ended up eating most of the components individually, I can say the cheese was rich and creamy—exactly what I look for in a fresh mozzarella; the tomato sauce was fine, but a little too thick and pasty; the tomato slice was your standard grocery store beefsteak slice, which isn't ever going to win me over; and the crust, while nicely charred, was dry with little-to-no rise on the edge.

Conclusions: Tomato Pie named their establishment after the right kinda pizza... though also, if they'd named it Sausage and Mushroom Pie, it maybe wouldn't have the same kinda marketing pull. I give it six and a half Mulligans. Vito's was overpriced and medicore for an upscale "sliceria." If I end up in LA again, I wouldn't go back.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tales of LA: A Moon Landing

There's a water problem in Los Angeles. It's so bad that bottles of the stuff now cost up to $9. This is true. At least the $9 part. To be fair it was the water in my parent's hotel room at the W Hollywood, which has a nightclub on the first floor and the second floor, and apparently is also stocked with naked men to appear in hallways at odd hours of the night.
From the mini-bar:

yes, 200 ml of vodka is $33

My base of operations (facing the celebrity center for the Church of Scientology... the street was guarded by security with guns... on bicycles):

Think the apartment complex in the Karate Kid, but nicer

Also street traffic is now so bad they've instituted public blimps:

At least the pizza situation is under control.

First stop: Mozza

Squash blossoms, tomato & burrata
Margherita with mozzarella, tomato & basil
Coach farm goat cheese, leeks, scallions, garlic & bacon
Abita! Root beer!
Blond, yet crisp.

Big and crunchy on the outside, soft and airy on the inside.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the pizzas Mozza's volleying out.

  • The tomato sauce on the Margherita was rich and piquant.
  • An incredibly creamy burrata with a delicate flavor similar to egg whites.
  • The puffy edge, which maybe appeared to be little much—almost showy—but turned out to be light and flavorful. I'd be happy to finish any slice with an edge as nice.
In all, I wasn't blown away by the pizzas at Mozza. They were very good, but in some cases it seemed they were concerned with appearances over palate. The squash blossoms for instance—as far as I could tell—didn't have any flavor at all, though they looked beautiful, especially with the mounds of bright white burrata floating on top of them. Also $23 for a 12" pizza is a bit pricey. UPN could get away with it, but they were serving arguably the best pizza in the country.

This is also one of the few instances were a blond crust was actually very good. It was crisp, but not crackery. And it held it's own against the weight and wetness of those burrata mounds. They also get some bonus points for being a fancy joint that also serves root beer.

Rating: five-and-a-half mulligans out of eight.

Further pizza adventures TK.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Culinarily speaking...

First point of business: Portobello now offers pizza to go (other parts of the linked report are false). So now you don't have to wait 45 minutes for table.

* * *


So when I've said in the past that there are no good slices in Portland, I was wrong. Give Pizza A Chance actually does some pretty solid work. When I originally tried their wares when I first moved here, it was toward the end of the day and the slices available were limited and had likely been sitting out for quite a while. I failed to take this into account in my thinking. After dropping by there for lunch this afternoon, I can say that their slices are better than most NYC slice options. They certainly blow Escape from NY out of the water.

I tried the margherita and the sausage and mushroom. The former was crisp and pliant, with dots of char on the underside. The mozzarella and basil used were fresh along with a couple of thin wedges of roma tomatoes. A mildly seasoned tomato sauce was there too, hiding under the mozz. The crust has some whole wheat in it to add a little extra depth of flavor (it adds a little bit of weight and chew as well, but it's a minor compromise in this case).

The sausage and mushroom slice was a little more pedestrian. The crust wasn't quite as well baked and the grease from the sausage soaked through a little bit. But it was plenty satisfying with Carlton Farms pork sausage and aged mozzarella.

I followed that up with ¡¡BEIGNETS!! from The Swamp Shack.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


BIG BANG BIG BOOM - the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.
Some of the things I didn't think about when considering the life of a pizzamaker:

1. that my glasses would constantly be covered in flour
2. the hour and half it would take to clean the kitchen
3. how quickly I would need to rush to fulfill orders
4. how long I would sometimes have to wait between orders
5. wearing sneakers could lead to pulling a muscle slipping on wet concrete
6. I could make more than $100 in tips in a week
7. how tired my legs would feel—especially my right leg, as I absent-mindedly put all my weight on it
8. the amount of money I'd save on dinners
9. free soda pop and alcohol at the end of the night