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.


Anonymous said...

I just don't see how anyone could buy a slice of artisan pie. For me if it's not a New York size slice, it's not a slice. For one thing, I don't think pizza made with a gob of cheese here and gob of cheese there reheats well. And mostly the crusts of artisan pies fail as soon as they cool. Reheating them gets you no where near anything but mostly soggy texture. NY pizza however excels when reheated... Just one man's view.

211 Vierling

Flushy McBucketpants said...

It depends on the artisan pie. Di Fara—that place in Midwood, Brooklyn that we went on our pizza tour in NYC—was a hole-in-the-wall, but a lot of people would consider it artisan. Pretty much only one guy makes the pies and the toppings are all very high quality.

For me it really depends on who's making the pizzas and what they're doing with what they have.

Generally speaking, I'll take fresh mozzarella over the drier aged mozz pretty much any day. That's personal preference though.

And, yeah, if it were up to me, there wouldn't be anything to reheat. So that's kind of a moot point for me. But having now worked with a couple different kinds of dough, I think the your concern regarding a slice holding up when it's reheated... it has more to do with the gluten content of the crust and less to do with the type of cheese (though, yeah... there are other factors there too, like how much cheese, sauce, etc... if you pile it on, or it's excessively oily, then it'll destroy any crust). Your standard NY pizza does have a higher gluten crust and will probably hold up better after it's sat for a while and been reheated. Artisan slices tend toward lower gluten crusts, which have the advantage of yielding a puffier, softer edge, but the disadvantage of less structural integrity and collapsing when reheated.

Anonymous said...

Well to me Di Fara is an exception -- NY Style and custom made. It's kind of a crossover.

By the way, if you had a chance to read the WashPost articles did you notice the reference to it taking 4 hours to get the wood burning oven to reach the needed temperature? Have you thought about the learning curve required to manage wood burning oven? Sounds like its very different. Do you think Portobello will change out its oven pretty soon?

211 Vierling

Flushy McBucketpants said...

I think the amount of time it takes to heat up an oven depends on the oven's size, the fuel (type of wood), and the material it's made of. I've read about some ovens that supposedly take 1 to 2 hours to reach temperature and others that can take up to 6.

I don't know when Portobello will change the oven. My guess is that it will happen in the next few months. We just got an ice machine though, so I can keep my beverage cold while I stand in front of the bakers pride.

At the moment the news is that we're no longer doing late night service. We're looking into opening for lunch though.