October is Italian Heritage Month which might explain why this foodie tour guide has been eating so much pizza this month! The origin of the word pizza is not clear, but it is Italian for pie. Various cultures and people ate forms of flatbreads with toppings including the ancient Egyptians, Israelites, Greeks and Romans. The pizza pie we’re all familiar with, the kind with tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings did originate in Italy. In June 1889, to honor the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan pizza-maker Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita”, a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the national colors of Italy as seen on the Italian flag.
On our Hollywood Sites & Bites Tour we make a tasting stop at Mozza2go which is part of the Mozza-plex co-owned by Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and pastry star Nancy Silverton. Located on the corner of Melrose and Highland, our tour groups enjoy a sidewalk pizza party while indulging in Nancy Silverton’s special sourdough crust. The three fan favorites are the Bianca (white), the Margherita (red) and the Aglio Olio (garlic and olive oil). Time and time again, no matter where our guests are visiting from, we receive great praise for these pizzas. And that’s exactly why we include them on our tasting tour. The Mozza pizzas receive praise from bloggers and critics proclaiming it among the best pizza in Los Angeles.
Recently I heard some one say “Move over Nancy Silverton there’s a new best pizza in town” or something along those lines. They were referring to Pizzana, the new Brentwood pizzeria whose partners include Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, actor Chris O’Donnell and Napolitano pizza chef Daniele Uditi. So this comment of course brought on the opportunity for some research. The crowds are flocking to this hot new spot and Matt and I had to settle for a 4:30pm reservation on a Sunday. The place was buzzing with families. The service and space were friendly and the pizza was good. The crust was thin and crispy and held the toppings nicely but was a little too charred for my liking. While the chopped salad was a standout, we agreed we are still partial to Mozza’s sourdough crust.
I also have been hearing good things about Lucifer’s Pizza whose tag line is It’s Damned Good. There are now two Lucifer’s Pizza shops along our tour route so again that is just an invitation for a visit. My pal Elisa of LA Woman Tours met me for some research and our eyes were bigger than our bellies as we ordered 3 personal size 10 inch pizzas: Roast Pumpkin Prosciutto, the Three Little Pigs and the Simply Cheese. All were good but the Three Little Pigs with prosciutto, sausage and bacon was a standout. Lucifer’s is famous for their spice levels, starting at zero, medium, fiery and blazing.
The third location I visited was much closer to home, Il Romanista Pizza in El Segundo. Luigi the owner spent summers in Roma with his grandparents enjoying “pizza al taglio.” It’s the traditional Roman way to sell pizza by the slice or “pizza by the cut.” It was fun to watch Luigi take a pair of scissors and cut my two chosen slices. I chose the Curva Sud which again beckoned an explanation. With potatoes and sausage, Luigi said it was one of his favorites so he named it after the most passionate soccer fans who sit in the curva sud or the south curve of the soccer coliseum. This particular pizza had a little too much rosemary for my liking but the other one I chose, the Crostino with Italian ham and cheese, was just right.
Who says Italian only means pizza? I recently attended a Gelato Festival in which attendees got to sample up to 12 cool creamy Italian ice cream and sorbetto flavors and vote on their favorite. I chose Shades of Rose as my top flavor, made by Salvatore from Sicily as a tribute to his Nonna Rosa. Flavors of peach and ginger with just the right Sicilian touch. Celebrating National Italian Heritage Month has never been so delicious. Prego!!
By Trish Procetto