Chicago-style pizzeria Hollywood Pies may be Keyser Söze's doppelganger: the greatest trick it has ever pulled, at least so far, is convincing the world that it exists. It has no physical storefront, so the only ways to get a piece of the Hollywood Pie is to order it for delivery or for pick-up. The former option is convenient, especially with the generous delivery zone, but, unless the pizza arrives earlier than expected, it's not really all that interesting.
More intriguing is the pick-up option. Until recently, Hollywood Pies was somewhere vaguely in West Hollywood; you pulled up curbside in a nondescript location in a neighborhood off of La Cienega, waited for someone to materialize with your pizza and bring it to your car. Hollywood Pies recently moved its operations to a commercial kitchen in Downtown, but it thankfully not only retained its slightly clandestine pick-up model, but made it even better: the rendezvous point now is between a lonely stretch of street that connects Historic Filipinotown to Downtown, on a short block that sits above the rumbling acoustics of the 110. If you really want to play up the atmosphere, arrange to pick up your pie after 9 p.m., when the traffic has settled and the gorgeous Downtown skyline is your cinematographer.
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We ordered a Classic Chicago pie, with Italian sausages, mozzarella, and ricotta. For pick up.
Forty-five minutes later, we were across the street from an overpriced Athens Parking lot on South Boyleston Street, parked outside a large white building. After we called to confirm our arrival, we watched the building intently to see where, exactly, from where our pizza would emerge. Alas, like every time we try to spot Alfred Hitchcock in Dial M for Murder, we blinked and we missed it, as a woman suddenly was walking towards our car, holding forth a heavy white box. We rolled down the passenger side window, gave her cash and received the pizza in return.
The Classic Chicago was, as promised, a classic Chicago pie. A plastic mesh at bottom of the box kept the deep dish crust dry, crunchy, and buttery, even after the 30-minute ride home. Slightly taller than a quarter, the pizza had a sturdy crust that amply supported the layers of housemade ricotta and mozzarella, bits of mild Italian sausage, and scarlet red tomato sauce. The cheese was deliberately distributed - not too much, as often is the case with many pizza joints going after the Chicago ideal, and not too little. The sausage had snap, the tomato had zing. It was a fantastic dinner, and the large size was polished off with barely enough leftover for an excellent breakfast. For those on the eternal search for an authentic deep dish pizza, this may be the closest you will get to Chi-Town without having to deal with icy winds, Oprah, or Richard Posner.
Its former and current location never was in Hollywood, and its location details are scant, but Hollywood Pies does indeed exist. The pizza does arrive, as promised, either curbside or at your door. And like that - poof - it's gone.