Pizza is almost certainly the quintessential takeout food. I remember the anticipation I’d feel waiting for the arrival of our regular delivery guy from Three Sarges Pizzeria, a pizza shop opened by — yup! — a trio of Army sergeants from World War II who had discovered the joys of pizza while retaking Naples. Was it a great pizza? In memory, it was the best pizza ever. But then, first love is like that.
Amazingly, the very first pizza delivery is well documented. It was delivered personally by a pizzaiolo — a pizza chef — named Raffaele Esposito, who made a pizza in the colors of the Italian flag — red tomatoes, green basil and white mozzarella — and delivered it as a tribute to King Umberto and Queen Margherita in Naples in 1889. It became know as…pizza Margherita. You can still get it at pizza shops all over the world.
America’s first pizzeria — Lombardi’s Pizza — opened in 1905 on the edge of New York’s Little Italy. But pizza delivery didn’t become the takeout of choice until 1958, with the debut of the first Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas. Domino’s came along two years later in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Getting a hot box of crust, cheese, sauce and very likely pepperoni has became an American way of life. Today, our 61,000 pizza shops deliver 3 billion pies a year. That accounts for 100 acres of pizza a day…360 slices per second. Do we love pizza? Do you even have to ask?
Below are the local hot spots I turn to for my takeout pies — delivered steaming hot, re-cut and ready to inhale. Preferably with a beer. And since we all know about the biggest of the nationwide, even worldwide chains — the previously mentioned Pizza Hut and Domino’s, along with Papa John’s, Little Caesar’s, California Pizza Kitchen and more — I’m paying homage to the smaller pizzerias. They may not offer pies in the millions, but they do offer some of the best.
Caioti Pizza Café
4346 Tujunga Ave., Studio City; 818-761-3588, www.caiotipizzacafe.com
Caioti Pizza Café is included, first and foremost, as a chance to pay tribute to the great, late Ed LaDou, the founder of the restaurant and creator of the California-style pizza served at Spago and California Pizza Kitchen. The man was a pizza visionary. And if you enjoy a barbecue chicken pizza, he’s the man to thank for the remarkable flavors, unthought of before Ed, and now ubiquitous throughout the world of modern pizza making.
Though Ed is gone, his pizzas continue to be edgy, topped with ground bison meat, Jerusalem artichokes, lamb and scrambled eggs. The restaurant is also famous for it’s “Maternity Salad,” said to help women who are running late, go into labor. What the salad does for guys is hard to say.
Central Park Pizza
220 N. Victory Blvd., Burbank; 818-953-7492, www.centralparkpizza.com
There are no pizzerias in New York’s Central Park, which doesn’t matter when it comes to the pies cranked out at Central Park Pizza where the pies are New York style (read: thin crust), and they start here with the most New York of pizzas — basic cheese (and lots of it!) in four sizes from small to x-large. From there, you’ve got 32 toppings to choose from, none of which are out of left field, though gouda is an unusual cheese to layer on top of a pizza. But not a bad one — it melts nicely.
There also are 19 pre-set combo pies, including as Tommy Lasorda with pesto, shrimp, tomato, garlic and mozzarella. There’s also a National League Pizza (mozzarella, Canadian bacon, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions), and an American League Pizza (mozzarella, mushrooms, olives, onions, zucchini).
Is it an editorial statement that the National League is made with meat, and the American League isn’t? Worth discussing — over a slice and a beer.
Danielle’s Wood-Fired Pizza
4822 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village; 818-980-8555, www.daniellespizza.com
Bless the folks at Danielle’s Wood-Fired Pizza, a mostly takeout shop north of Ventura Boulevard, for offering pizza not just by the whole pie, but by the slice as well, for that’s how I grew up with pizza, and I often miss it, when I don’t want to commit myself to some serious overeating.
You can get the slices with one topping, or two, along with cheese of course. And like all the pies, the slices have that wonderful wood-fired flavor, and a choice of toppings both familiar and curious, such as corn. Why not? I guess.
8879 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Sun Valley; 818-939-6566, www.786degrees.com
With an oven made out of Mt. Vesuvius lava rock, Pizza Master Ali Haider at 786 Degrees, described as a “Mobile Italian Kitchen,” cooks pies with roots in Italy — and all over the world at the same time. There’s the sauceless Sultan, with Himalaya salt and Mediterranean spices; the chorizo and cilantro El Chapo, the Egyptian garlic-yogurt sauce and lamb or beef kofta Habibi and much more.
The meats are halal, the awards for Chef Haider’s pizzas are many, the pies are sublimely good; Sun Valley is lucky to have this as their best local pizzeria — and mobile pizza oven as well.
4359 Tujunga Ave., Studio City; 818-824-3511, www.eatpizzamakelove.com/lbk-la
The other two branches of LBK Pizzeria are in Brooklyn, which gives the place deep and very tasty roots in one of the pizzas capitals of America, where the demand for perfection goes beyond the beyond; you don’t survive serving a mediocre pie in Brooklyn.
At this Studio City outpost, there are 14 pie toppings, mostly deeply traditional, made using mozzarella imported from Italy, along with numerous other ingredients from the old country. The pizzas are, as you’d expect, exceptional, served in 12- and 16-inch variations. Get the big one — the smart money says you’ll finish it with ease.
Napoli’s Pizza Kitchen
14831 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks; 818-909-0100, www.napolispizzakitchen.com
In the great SoCal tradition, there’s a dental clinic and a laundromat next to Napoli’s Pizza Kitchen because…well, that’s how strip malls are. And how is the pizza at Napoli’s? As you’d expect of a place named for the birthplace of the modern ‘za, pretty darned great — a terrific chewy crust, with a nice bit of oven burn to it, with a wide variety of toppings.
There are 19 pre-assembled pies, served in four sizes, mostly classical, though there are a few outliers — like the potato and anchovy, the Armenian basturma and the lamb sausage. And unlike a number of the best pizza places, there’s more to Napoli’s than pies, lots more, with a sizable menu of appetizers, salads, pastas and sandwiches. You want a Bavarian pretzel or sweet potato fries with your pizza, they got that. They deliver beer and wine too, which is decidedly different. And very useful.
North End Pizzeria
2206 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 818-588-3891, www.northendpizza.com
The name North End Pizzeria refers not to the north end of Burbank, but the north end of Boston, a joyous Little Italy with a North End accent as thick as the local take on pizza. (The restaurant’s logo is even Paul Revere delivering a hot steaming pie on horseback!)
Is this a pizza that compares well with the ones cranked out in the old hood? Hard to say, since my roots are New York, which has a pizza style all its own. But the motto here is, “Authentic East Coast Pizza Taking Over the West Coast.” So, I’ll take their word for it.
What I do know is that the pies are pretty great creations, with pretty great names. The Paul Revere (yup, him again!) is topped with breaded eggplant, sliced tomato and basil. The Great Brinks Robbery (a pizza named for a holdup?) is pepperoni, Italian sausage, meatballs, mushrooms, onions and olive. The Green Monster is pesto sauce, mozzarella, tomato and artichoke sauce.
The pies come 8-inch, 14-inch and 18-inch monsters, along with a rectangular 12-slice Sicilian thick crust model. Good pies to eat while watching the Red Sox play. When the baseball season finally comes back.
10750 Glenoaks Blvd., Pacoima, 818-890-4444, www.pizzaholic.net
The motto at Pizzaholic is “In Pizza We Trust,” which features an all-seeing Masonic eye instead of a pyramid, a slice of cheesy goodness. The name, of course, makes me think of a 12-step program, meeting in church basements, where those who eat pizza morning, noon and night meet to try to deal with their desperate need for pepperoni. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The place is so obsessed, when you go to the website, the music playing is “Pizza” by Anti Up.
The pies come Neapolitan, Sicilian and Georgian Pizza Boats, which look like something you’d make at home trying to create a pie that holds so much cheese, it might collapse from the weight. The boats are filled with eggs and butter too. I assume the Georgia they refer to is Russian not American. There are salads and sandwiches too, and wings. But really, when a pizza boat beckons, a little addiction never hurt.
Merrill Shindler is a Los Angeles-based freelance dining critic. Send him email at [email protected]
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Source: Thanks https://www.dailynews.com/2020/03/24/8-great-takeout-pizza-options-in-the-san-fernando-valley-during-coronavirus-pandemic/