No Pizza For You!

Who knew Los Angeles had their own version of Ali “Al” Yeganeh, the real life Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame. The soup chef’s tyrannical rules and mercurial personality has a Los Angeles counterpart just around the corner from our pad here in Silver Lake: Paul of pizzeria Pizza Paul. There’s no man whom we both fear and revere like Paul. One day he’s the friendliest and most jovial fella, throwing in a free two liter bottle of soda pop to accompany your most delicious order of pizza and spaghetti (he might also make the best damn cheese and salami sandwich that come in John Holmes dimensions of 9″ or 18″ sizes). The next day he’s abruptly telling you there’s no delivery over the phone, and barking at you to “come and pick it up if you want it!”, slamming the phone to punctuate your ordering faux pa. It was during one of the recent Laker playoff games when we dropped by for a pickup order (we quickly learned Paul hated taking delivery orders, so we converted to pickup customers) we witnessed what Paul does to punks who cross over the unwritten rules of his establishment…

We had phoned in our order for a 20″ Jumbo pizza pie for a halftime pickup, but came by a little late because of a drawn out first half of the game. I dropped my girlfriend Emily curbside to pick up the pizza while I idled outside, thinking it would be a grab, pay and go affair. But Paul wanted to heat up the now lukewarm pizza, as he will serve no pie if its cold or dry, so Emily waited inside with the obviously agitated Paul. Our guess was an influx of delivery orders had swarmed in all at once because of the game, and it resulted in a none to happy Paul. All the while I’m outside listening to the start of the 2nd half of the game. But in my side mirrors I could see two slouchy indie hipsters amble into the restaurant. According to Emily the two poster children for Silver Lake’s indie demographic sidled up to the counter and initially asked whether they could order pizza by the slice (“No! No slices!”). They continued to stare at the menu, befuddled, now their one-slice plan was derailed. Suddenly one of them asks Paul with a hint of attitude, “Hey, what happened to Vito’s?”. Vito’s is a nearby competitor often mentioned as the best pizza in town and a pizzeria that did serve pizza by the slice. The transparent query was not a smart nor polite question to ask, especially with an obviously moody proprietor who understood the implications of their inquiry. Paul could barely contain his annoyance and grunted out that he did not know what happened to Vito’s and simply stared at the two with an intimidating glare. The tight t-shirt attired duo left disappointed, and I could see the two moping and shuffling away in my rearview mirror as Sunderland and Lantz gave me the play by play. Immediately after the door closed with their departure, a very visibly angry Paul turned to Emily and exploded, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO VITO’S!?? I DO! THEY GOT CLOSED…CLOSED DOWN AND THEIR LICENSE TAKEN AWAY!” That evening his restaurant would have been more appropriately named Pizza Pissed. My girlfriend calmed him down by telling him Vito’s sucked ass compared to his place anyhow, and that those two didn’t know what they were talking about. Nevertheless, Emily practically ran out after getting our order, glad to have escaped the volcanic eruption of Mount Pauluvius.

Fortunately, I think Paul now knows we’re regulars and treats us accordingly. Though still quick on the phone, he’s genuinely polite now. And when we come in for pickup, we almost always return with a complimentary two liter bottle of soda and some fresh jalapeno peppers he throws in for the heck of it. But most importantly, the man continues to make the best damn pizzas and cold cut subs this side of town. Paul is the boss, and so is his pizza.

7 thoughts on “No Pizza For You!”

  1. He isn’t the only one. Try going to Sushi Nozawa in Sherman Oaks sometime. It is the best traditional sushi restaurant in Southern California, but Nozawa-san leaves something to be desired in the hospitality department. His “Today’s Specials” sign merely says “trust me”, and he will take your sushi away if you do not eat it in a very timely fashion.

  2. I have to tell you: Paul LOVES me! I always pick up my pizza, and he even calls me on my cell phone when it’s ready. Plus, he gives me all the to-go pepper flakes I can carry. I pray I never witness his dark side.

  3. Mr Hooks: I’ve heard of Sushi Nozawa, but haven’t eaten there yet. My favourite in that area is Katsu in Studio City (its been ages since I was there, so I don’t know if its even still open). I’m actually fond of sushi nazis because I’ve seen way too many Americans swishing their wasabi and asking for california rolls and think they know how to properly eat sushi. A meal “omakase” style (chef’s choice) is the best way to eat sushi anyhow, so if you can afford his “Today’s Special”, you should indeed trust him :D

    Bronwyn: Yeah, Paul gives us the personal call on our home and cell phones too, so we’re happy to be on his good side. I make sure I just don’t make the man wait, cuz I think that’s a pet peeve of his. Call, order with all my info ready beforehand, and come promptly for pickup….that makes for a happy Paul!

  4. I live near Orange County, so it’s a long haul for me to go to Nozawa. Plus, omakase there is expensive. :) I usually go to Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa, near Triangle Square. Almost as good as Nozawa, at about half the price for omakase. And Shibutani-san is super nice too, though he will instruct you on how to properly eat each type of sushi he makes for you (just ask Koga, aka Mr. Sushi Faux Pas :D ).

    Note, Shibucho in Costa Mesa is not affiliated with Shibucho in Beverly Hills. Shibutani-san sold the BH restaurant years ago.

    I’ve also heard good things about Katsu. It might be part of the Sushi Roku empiire, not sure. If so, it’s in pretty good company.

  5. The sushi situation is universal. As an LA transplant now living in Nashville, I can tell you about a place here called Sam’s Sushi. Sam, whose name isn’t Sam but who won’t tell you his name because you’ll screw it up, has a good racket of kicking his lunch-time customers out after twenty minutes. God help you if you finish and attempt to sit with an empty plate. At the same time, its the best, cheapest sushi in town.

  6. Ahh, Vito’s- I used to work there for a brief time, and they have closed down temporarily, as previously scheduled, to remodel and double the size of the restaurant, as well as to apply for a liquor liscense. Unfortunately that job did not work out as, too frequently, I would find myself waiting outside for Vito to roll out of bed & come down, hung over, from his upstairs apartment to open the door. One rainy day I finally tired of waiting and got an office job that pays 3 times as much. But it was a fun place to work while it lasted. I sort of miss blasting the Who on the radio and drooling over the hot chef Vittorio. Yummy. Long live Vito’s.

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