What do you do when you crave the delightful smell of bubbling cheese atop baking dough, but need some sort of healthy balance to your life after consuming fried pig ears, tortas cubanas, and barbecued brisket for their last three meals? This is when that odd creation the salad pizza comes into play. Roll out pizza dough, sprinkle with cheese, place in oven. When it comes out, smear it with sour cream, then put a dressed salad atop the pizza. It's like having a piece of bread with your salad, or croutons in it: a surprisingly unified dish, though one that's not particularly easy to find. It is, however, the subject of today's food fight.

Abbot's Pizza, with its olive tapenades and bagel crusts, has been putting its innovative twist on California pies for the last decade. Their salad pizza is a popular choice for figure-conscious Angelenos, with big, wide slices capable of laying the foundation for a hefty portion of lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and a pleasantly citric dressing. The crust does a decent job of holding things together, and the flavor combination brings back memories of delivery pizza and salad thrust together on the same plate, your Italian dressing leaking over onto the crust. All said, it's a refreshing and satisfying slice of pizza which won't bog you down. It also makes you feel a lot happier about ordering that second slice of whatever cheese-and-meat laden option it is you really want.

Vistango Cafe's medium salad pizza; Credit: N. Galuten

Vistango Cafe's medium salad pizza; Credit: N. Galuten

For our next version we decided to follow the tastes of Heisman Trophy winning USC alum, Arizona Cardinals backup quarterback, and infamous party boy, Matt Leinart — a man known to be a regular at Vistango Cafe, just south of Downtown. We were somewhat skeptical of this oddly named eatery, whose startlingly cheap menu includes just about every Italian-American dish you've ever heard of, as well as a supposedly popular item called “farfale tequila.” We first became nervous when we sat down to a basket of bland and unimpressive bread, served with olive oil so far from extra virgin that it was downright whoreish by comparison. The winner of our battle, it seemed, had been decided before the food had even arrived.

But then the medium salad pizza appeared and turned out to be perfectly enjoyable. Yes, the crust was bland. No, the lettuce was not as vibrant as the one at Abbot's. But it was a pleasant lunch for two, costing just around ten dollars. Is it as good Abbot's? Sadly, no. But we did appreciate the little reminder of what it's like to eat cheaply in a college environment.

Abbot's Pizza, 1407 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, (310) 396-7334‎, and 1811 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica, (310) 314-2777‎. Vistango Cafe, 3017 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, (213) 745-8050.

LA Weekly