Dear Mr. Gold:
I grew up in New York eating terrific, oily, foldable pizza everywhere I went. I have now lived in Pasadena for 30 years, and I’d never go back to N.Y. But I miss the pizza. Is there any pizza in Los Angeles that comes close to the New York ideal?
—Martin Podway, Pasadena
Dear Mr. Podway:
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In the years when I lived in New York, I was actually nostalgic for the pizza at Casa Bianca, which I tended to like better than most N.Y. pizza, with the notable exceptions of Lombardi’s in Nolita, DeFaro’s in Midwood, Patsy’s, possibly Grimaldi’s under the Brooklyn Bridge. (New Haven, the pizza capital of the Eastern Seaboard, is of course a different story.) When I lived a block from John’s in the Village, I went all the time, and I enjoyed both the aesthetic and the thin, brittle crust, but I still yearned for Casa Bianca.
Some people think of New York pizza as the oily, overcheesed concoction at any of the hundreds of restaurants named Ray’s, and Joe Peep’s (12460 Magnolia Blvd., Valley Village, 818-506-4133) serves a pie (though no slices) very close to those, but rather more dense. Mulberry Street (347 N. Cañon Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-247-8100; 240 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills; 17040 Ventura Blvd., Encino) seems rather more satisfying as folklore (imported NYC water, Cathy Moriarty) than it does as pizza. Which brings us, I guess, to Vito’s (846 N. La Cienega Blvd., W. Hlywd., 310-652-6859), whose pizza skews closer to New Jersey delivery pizza than it does to the fabled charred discs of Totonno’s or Patsy’s, but isn’t half bad. And from what I gather, a branch of the legendary slice joint Joe’s is getting ready to open in Santa Monica. Joe’s pizza never quite made the transition from the original Bleecker Street location to a slightly larger spot just around the corner. I have no idea how the pizza is going to survive a transition of 2,500 miles.
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