06 May Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Pizza City Fest LA at LA Live
Who doesn’t love pizza? Thin crust or deep dish, round or square, no matter what size or shape or the choice of toppings, there is nothing better! And pizza lovers celebrated when Pizza City Fest Los Angeles brought together 40 of Southern California’s best pizza makers for two days of pizza making and eating. As a pizza lover myself, I can say that attending Pizza City Fest Los Angeles was the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Pizza City Fest is the creation of Steve Dolinsky, 13-time James Beard Award-winning food reporter and currently “The Food Guy” at NBC 5 Chicago. Steve is passionate about pizza and since 2017, he has made it his mission to dispel myths and show the world there is more to the Windy City than just deep-dish, stuffed, or tavern-style pies. Steve has written two books about pizza, launched a weekly tour business, and produces and hosts a bi-monthly podcast. In 2022, he created Pizza City Fest in Chicago. And in 2023, he brought Pizza City Fest to Los Angeles.
From Santa Barbara to San Diego, Steve curated a line-up of 40 unique pizzerias, each serving up there own style of pizza. Taking place at LA Live, attendees received lanyard with 12 pizza slices printed on them. As attendees lined up for a slice from a particular restaurant, a slice would get stamped. At first it seemed limiting to only get to try 12 slices of pizza. I consider myself a good eater who can muster up the energy and space even when I am full. After all, I managed to eat five different pizzas, plus a fried pizza, over a two day period when I was in Naples a few years ago. That said, I did not make it to 12 slices of pizza. I tapped out after 7 delicious slices!
Here are the seven pizzas I tried and I recommend them all!
1534 N McCadden Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90028
To me the Neopolitan pizza is perfection. I love the crust, which is thin but chewy, and the perfect proportion of fresh pomodoro and mozzarella. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele is famous from the book (and movie) Eat, Pray, Love. I first had the famous Neapolitan pizza in Naples. And as soon as they opened their first location in the United States in Los Angeles, I was there. Today there are also locations in Santa Barbara and New York.
2706 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033
Brooklyn Ave Pizza is located in Boyle Heights. They were serving up two pizzas, a mole pizza and a Birria Pizza. Both were intriguing but I went with the Birria Pizza which had a little kick. It also came with a side of jus to dip the pizza into.
2545 Progress St, Vista, CA 92081
Truly Pizza, owned by third-generation Pizzaiolo John Arena and his World Pizza Champion collaborator and teammate Chris Decker, as well as two other partners, is opening soon in Dana Point. They were a Pizza Sorta Norma with roasted tomato and eggplant sauce with burrata. The crust was thicker with a delicious crunch.
7326 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046
A Michigan native, Chef Ryan Ososky and his DTown Pizza won 1st place and World Champion in the pan division at the 2021 International Pizza Competition in Las Vegas winning. Topped with peas, pecorino, and truffle, this authentic Detroit-style pizza is square shaped but the other key is the cheese on the crust.
With four locations in Los Angeles, and one in Dallas, Pizzana pizzas are famous for the “slow dough”. Daniele Uditi learned his craft in Naples and combines his training at the best pizzerias in Campania with his family bakery’s traditional bread recipes. The Diavola pizza served up some heat with the spicy salami which was balanced by the sweetness of honey.
7315 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 90046
Listed in the Michelin guide, Ronan is owned and operated by Chef Daniel Cutler and his wife Caitlin. The hand-tossed Neapolitan pizza was topped with guanciale, picotta forta, and cacio e pepe honey.
3297 E Thousand Oaks Blvd Ste 102, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
Pizza champion Tony Gemignani is the president of the World Pizza Champions. He is the first and only Triple Crown winner for baking at the International Pizza Championships in Lecce, Italy. As the 2007 World Champion Pizza Maker at the World Pizza Cup in Naples, Italy, he was the first American and non-Neapolitan winner. With nearly two dozen pizzerias around the West Coast, he just opened his first Slice House in Southern California in Thousand Oaks where he serves New York, Sicilian, Grandma, Detroit, and California style pizzas. The Grandma pizza, a Sicilian-style pie that originated in New York, has a thin crust and is cooked in an olive oil coated square pan and topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce which is layered over the cheese and cut into square pieces.
If I could have eaten more pizza, I would have. But I could not take another bite after these seven delicious slices of pizza! I will definitely have to start training for Pizza City Fest Los Angeles 2024!