Authentic Naples Pizza in Hollywood
Pizza, there’s plenty of it around the city of Los Angeles, for all different personal tastes. Thin crust, thick crust, sourdough crust, cauliflower crust, pizza by the slice, pizza by the cut and more. But in spring 2019, Los Angeles’ most famous neighborhood, Hollywood, welcomed possibly the most talked-about pizza on the big screen since Mystic Pizza. Interestingly both pizzerias were featured in movies starring Julia Roberts. Does anyone else remember the 80’s movie Mystic Pizza? That pizzeria is located in Mystic, Connecticut, in business since 1973. But the pizzeria I’d like to talk about today is L’Antica PIzzeria da Michele, whose humble beginnings date further back to 1870 in Naples, Italy when Salvatore Condurro began selling a deep-fried variation of pizza as street food. A quarter-century later his son, Michele, moved the business indoors and started baking pizza pies. If it sounds at all familiar to you, it may be because you see that indoor pizzeria in a 2010 movie, adapted from the book of the same name, Eat Pray Love. In the movie the main character Elizabeth Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts, travels out of her comfort zone in a quest for self-discovery. In one delicious and delightful scene, she is sitting at a packed pizzeria in Naples enjoying a Margherita pizza, and says to her friend, “I’m in love. I’m having a relationship with my pizza”.
On a warm spring day in 2019, within walking distance of Hollywood High School, the first US location of the historic L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele opened in a beautiful indoor-outdoor space. In keeping with tradition, initially this location only offered two pizzas, the Marinara and the Margherita, which represents the colors of the Italian flag: red sauce, white cheese and green basil. In the year since their opening, they have added additional pizza toppings as well as pastas, salads, brunch items and more to their menu. But getting back to the pizza, all ingredients are imported from Naples, Italy and the special pizza crust recipe only requires a mere 40 seconds in their signature stone oven. The result is a slightly chewy and slightly charred crust to hold up the sauce and few toppings.
I chose to dine here on Father’s Day 2020 knowing my father-in-law enjoys pizza and also knowing from a social media post that this restaurant was open for business with careful Covid-19 protocols in place. So a reservation was made easily on Open Table and away we went. There is a public parking lot across the street from the (almost hidden) entrance, but you can get street parking if you are lucky. Masks required, temperatures taken at the door. We were seated not in the large garden patio in the back, but on the smaller front patio which was shady, cool and just right for our party of four. We shared a beautiful beet salad, a pappardelle pasta dish with short ribs, two desserts and cappuccino. And of course the star of the show, our pizza! Because both my husband and father-in-law like spicy, we chose the Diavola, which basically translates to devil. The pizza was topped with tomato sauce, Fior di Latte mozzarella, pecorino, basil, spicy salame and Calabrian chili flakes. Ooh so good! I should mention the menu now also includes appetizers, meat and seafood entrees, vegetables and cheese boards.
I rarely dine at a restaurant more than once, unless I have a special connection to the place such as my Sites & Bites partners. There are simply too many restaurants in Los Angeles to enjoy, so I really try to spread the wealth and dine at as many as I can. But there was something very special about this space and the food. Especially the pizza. After watching the Julia Roberts clip from the movie Eat Pray Love, I need to go back and order a traditional Margherita pizza…all by myself. After that I’m going to watch Mystic Pizza again, where Julia Robers stars as one of three friends working in a local pizza parlor, trying to figure out the owner Leona’s secret sauce ingredient. It may take me longer to get to Connecticut, and Naples, Italy for that matter, so I am glad I have the L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele right in my own backyard, Hollywood!
By: Trish Procetto