One Man’s Pizza is Another Man’s… wait, you don’t like Mulberry Street?

This is not pizza from a Los Angeles restaurant. This is a picture of pizza that exists in the public domain. The picture, I mean, not the pizza. The pizza itself is heavily copyrighted and DRM'd. Don't ask how.I recently decided I can never fully trust people who don’t like pizza.

Seriously. If we are ever having a conversation, and at some point during this conversation you claim not to like pizza, I will look askance on any subsequent statements you make. Because you’re either a posing contrarian — in which j’accuse, dammit! — or your life experiences are so woefully extrinsic to my own that they cast a light of uncertainty onto all of our future interactions. Pizza is a pleasant constant, like sunshine or morning tumescence. If you don’t like it, there’s a good chance you’re part of the scouting vanguard of an impending alien invasion, and there are some things about humans you just can’t mimic. Nice try, you Cylon bastard.

I’m much more forgiving of people who don’t like good pizza, which is why I still have friends. I know guys from Cincinnati who think pizza should never flop over when you pick it up from the plate. I have friends from central Pennsylvania who think Pizza Hut is an acceptable option. I even have a native Texan friend who eats pizza by scraping the toppings off the crust with a fork. Whatever. Opinions differ.

Which is why I managed to retain my cool when my friend — we’ll call her “Heidi” to protect her anonymity, though just between us it’s her real name — struck up a conversation with my girlfriend Alanna and I the other day with this deceptively predicateless subject:

“So, guys, Mulberry Street Pizza…”

Knowing that Mulberry Street is generally — and wisely — agreed upon as the best pizza in Los Angeles, Alanna and I finished her sentence in unison:

“…I know, is awesome, right? Yes!”

And then, Heidi:

“…I was gonna say it sucked.”

Now, I like Heidi. I consider Heidi a good friend and a talented actress, which is why I initially thought she was putting us on. You know, actors like to practice their craft whenever they get a chance, and I thought she was simply playing an improvisational character with inadvisable taste in pizza. But no. She really didn’t like it. Which, as I’ve said, is cool; it’s not like she hates pizza altogether or anything. She’s no Cylon.

What followed, of course, was the conversation that always follows when someone expresses a strong opinion on a local pizza joint; three more people entered the conversation and injected their own feelings on the matter. Here, for your reading pleasure, are the highlights of that conversation.

Mulberry Street. Lots of people call this the gold standard for east coast pizza in LA, since it matches typical thin-crust pizzeria pizza from Boston on down to Philly. Some people will try to get you to call this “New York style pizza;” these people are likely New Yorkers themselves and should be stopped at all costs.

Vito’s. Alanna is a fan, though she claims that every time she’s had the chance to have Vito’s pizza it’s been three hours cold.

Garage Pizza. Another thin-crust wonder, the namesake pizza here is a cheeseburger pie topped with ground beef, pickles and Roma tomato slices. Much, much better than it sounds.

Damiano Mr. Pizza. The pride of Fairfax, this is another east coast pizza Mecca in LA.

Palermo’s. For fans of thicker crust, this is the place. Palermo’s piles on the cheese and toppings, so you may need to tackle this with a knife and fork.

Hard Times Pizza. Another thin-crust pizza, Hard Times again claims it serves “New York style pizza.” This is the way New York gets credit for everything: Once someone invents a dish, the New Yorkers come screaming up and name it. “This is some delicious New York style coq au vin!” you’ll hear them say. Or, “What a wonderful New York style Philly cheesesteak!”

Now, I’m not endorsing all of these places; I’ve actually never been to Vito’s, Hard Times or, despite my best efforts, Damiano. But this is what came up. My favorite, of course, is Mulberry Street, but as it’s in Beverly Hills and I live in Los Feliz, I tend to hit Garage Pizza more frequently (though Palermo’s is cheaper). But there they are.

So: When you get into the inevitable pizza conversation, what place do you mention first? What place is overrated?

21 thoughts on “One Man’s Pizza is Another Man’s… wait, you don’t like Mulberry Street?”

  1. The best in my opinion is gone. Albano’s was on Melrose and was true Brooklyn style pizza. (Apparently, the guy who ran it started at Mulberry Street). When it closed, there was a brief partnership at Robano’s in Toluca Lake. Albano is out again and the pizza is not quite the same, but it’s not bad and is usually where I go.

    I like Mulberry Street (usually go to the one in Encino) and Damiano’s. To me, Vito’s is way overrated. There’s a place in Culver City that Julia has written about here that is supposed to be fantastic.

  2. Lamonica’s in Westwood is my favorite slice place. For sit-down places, I really like Pitfire Pizza (Downtown, Westwood, and now Culver City, and some place in the Valley also). Abbott’s Pizza is good (I’ve only been to the one on Pico in Santa Monica), but their service leaves something to be desired (like the pizza actually being ready when they say it will be). And of course, Mozza, but that isn’t your average pizza joint.

  3. LaRocco’s In Culver City is tasty. And I’ve just discovered PItfire and find it extremely good. I’m not super fussy about my pizza. I just like pizza. Pizza good.

  4. Vito’s is good for a plain slice. I second Casa Bianca – worth the drive out to Eagle Rock and the wait in line. Antica Pizzeria in Marina Del Rey is great if you want true Neopolitan pizza, and I can vouch for this because I had pizza in Naples and then a month later I had pizza at Antica and it was almost as good.

    Some writer from GQ who covered the best pizza across the US swears that the only good pizza in LA, besides Antica, is at some hole in the wall on Melrose called Tomato Pie, across from Fairfax High. Can anyone vouch for this?

  5. It’s not LA, but the most overrated pizza I’ve ever had was at Zachary’s in Berkeley. We waited for about 90 minutes for what was good, but nowhere near the praise I’ve heard for this place.

  6. I haven’t been to any of these places. Do I sense a “Pizza Death Roll” in our future? I hear a lot about Mozze; is it too fancy to be on the list? There’s also Joe’s Pizza on the Third Street Promenade, which is an outpost of a NYC place; a new place I see on Washington Blvd. in western Culver City called “YES; ” and a joint on Wilshire & 11th St. in Santa Monica called NY+C that serves both “New York style” and “Chicago style” pizza and is even decorated in NY style on one side and Chicago style on the other. But don’t blame the New Yorkers for the ubiquity of the term “New York style,” blame the insecure Angelenos who voluntarily add that moniker to their own businesses.

  7. “I hear a lot about Mozze; is it too fancy to be on the list?”
    Pizzas are personal-sized, and tend to be in the $15-18 range. If you plan on hitting multiple places, you can always share a pizza and keep the cost down. It is rather new and trendy (and yeah, kinda upscale I guess), being a Mario Batali restaurant, not to mention crowded, cramped, and very noisy. I was able to get a seat at the bar after a considerable wait, on a Saturday mid-afternoon; I think tables will require a reservation.

    I don’t eat pizza very often, even though I like it, and I haven’t tried most of the “best pizza in LA” joints, but I really liked D’Amore’s in the Valley. But that was like 4-5 years ago, so I can’t vouch for them now. I’m not fussy about pizza either, except that I hate Chicago style deep-dish, and I try to avoid the chains, though my even-less-fussy friends tend to out-vote me on that.

  8. I have to admit that the much-vaunted burrata and squash blossom pizza at Mozza was…aiiight. Definitely good, not as amazing as everyone else said. The squash blossoms didn’t really taste like anything. But everything else I had there was outstanding. The butterscotch budino was as orgasmically good as I had heard…and I don’t like butterscotch.

  9. Kev-O, it’s all your fault that I forced (FORCED!) my husband to have lunch with me at Pitfire Pizza today. Had the burrata pie which is covered in arugula so it’s also like having a salad. No guilt. Pizza just rules.

  10. I doubt many of you live down in the South Bay like I do, but I can highly recommend Valentino’s in El Segundo and Manhattan Beach. Excellent NY-style pizza!

  11. Thanks for mentioning Vito’s Pizza as one of the best places in LA for New York pizza but sorry to hear it is always cold when you receive it. It should be piping hot! Hope you will give it another try soon.

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