Casa Bianca: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011
Sam Martorana, who was behind the ovens at Casa Bianca for more than 50 years, was such a presence at the red-checked-tablecloth pizzeria that it was hard to imagine it continuing after he passed away. His pizza was idiosyncratic to an extreme: thin when the fashion was for puffy crusts; judiciously topped in an era marked by bubbling excess; and sliced into the odd parallelograms characteristic of bar pies from the South Side of Chicago, which is where he learned to cook. The mushrooms were always canned — fresh mushrooms dry out in the oven's extreme heat — and Martorana kept pineapple-topped Hawaiian pizza on the menu because he liked it.
Wedge-of-lettuce salads are a cliché now, but there were years when Casa Bianca's was the only model in town. And the family has maintained the tradition: I defy anyone to spot decline in the signature eggplant-sausage pizza. The sausage is still fresh and homemade; the fried eggplant still crunchy; the tomato sauce still well-reduced; the crust still thin, crisp, lightly charred and quick to stiffen. Is it worth a visit? Definitely, yes. The crowds are almost manageable before 5 and after 10. 1650 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 256-9617, casabiancapizza.com. Tues.-Thurs., 4 p.m.-mid.; Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. Street parking. Cash only. Italian.
99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:
Church & State
Din Tai Fung
El Huarache Azteca
Euro Pane Bakery
Fab Hot Dogs
Good Girl Dinette
La Casita Mexicana
Lazy Ox Canteen
Meals by Genet
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
Night + Market
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Pollos a la Brasa
Sapp Coffee Shop
Son of a Gun
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Waterloo & City
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