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Los Angeles, CA – Melody Pizza


Melody Pizza Review

(Editor’s Note): I was contacted by the owners of a new place, Melody’s Pizza,  near LAX in Los Angeles, a new venture for a couple that owns a hot night spot down the street, the Melody Bar and Grill. I was invited to come by, couldn’t make it, so Los Angeles Burger Bureau Chief Larry gathered up his crew and hit up the Melody recently.

Does the Water really make NY Pizza taste better than it’s west coast cousin The LA Slice?

Hell yeah!  And Melody’s Pizza near LAX Airport tries hard to replicate that taste and texture.  Especially in its traditional round (as they refer to it), just saucy enough and not too cheesy, a wonder baked in a Marsal & Sons deck oven imported from New York.  But that alone couldn’t do it.  It takes a Pizza-monger, a man (or woman as the case may be) to master the years it takes of dough making and dough throwing and sauce making and tasting, to get it right.

Melody’s seems to have found that guy. The chef (and expert pizza maker) is a Brooklyn transplant who goes by the name of “Ronnie”. And it’s a “Ronnie” with all the real stuff going for him.  Years of working at premiere pizza joints in and out of the city.  No, not LA City. The Big Apple one.  The accent, the tattoos and the hands and mouth to taste (and throw out NY stories to boot) makes our memories and the melody of Melody’s sing New York, New York, loud and clear.  A near authentic NY style pie in our midst.

Ronnie uses their own Brooklyn Water system including reverse osmosis water treatment along with other secret things the owners just refused to cough up at our meeting at their restaurant one evening recently –  to make the water more like NY water for NY dough for NY pizza.  I was very, very skeptical.

Melody Pizza Review

Marsal & Sons Pizza Decks

It seems to work.

Excellent texture to the dough.  Yet a nice crispiness to the bottom of the pizza.  And traditional taste.

We had a taste of at least 10 pies. But please understand: if you’re ever going to work your way up to being even a beginning pizza critic, clearly, the first thing you must do when tasting a pie that restaurateurs proclaim is NY style… you’ve gotta start with a slice a PLAIN cheese pizza with their tomato sauce. End of story.  Or if that restaurateur is proclaiming that they’ve got the next best thing to a true Italian pie… from the homeland… you’ve gotta start with a small Pizza Margarita. Nothing else on them. Nothing else to screw them up. And clearly NO California Pizza B.S. with adding the kitchen sink to your pie.

Just start slowly. And plain.  And work your way in.  It’s like a Ballet.

So, needless to say, I was very nervous at the thought of discovering a NY slice from my homeland in LA-LA land.

So, I brought my family to taste.  The wife and kids.  Wanted to make sure I wasn’t being fooled.  And my kids have grown up on NY Pizza so they should know it from a mile away.  My wife on the other hand is a different cookie.  She grew up in Great Neck, Long Island so you never know what she’s gonna think real NY Pizza is supposed to taste like (Just Kidding. I have a thing about the Island. Can’t get over it).

The Setting: Small place, a few tables and chairs (for a real coziness) but with a long bar area for Pizza prep viewing and sitting to dine (with at least a dozen such comfortable bar chairs with a granite tabletop).

Melody Pizza ReviewPIZZAs we sampled:

The traditional Round as they call it.  We all had slices and they were really fabulous.  Made me miss home.

Then, we had the Chicken Parmigiana Pizza.  Excellent Sauce. Chicken was very moist. Too often that topping will dry out when recooked in the pizza oven. Not here. Ronnie cooks the Parmigiana on the stove top – right next to his gi-normous pot of his nonna’s recipe marinara – just enough so that the next baking in their Marsal & Son ovens  gives the pizza just what it needs. Beautiful. A particular winner for my kids.

Then came a Gorgonzola and Poached Pear Pie. Pizza Pie, that is. A winner.  With Mama’s original crust. Kind of a cross between a Sicilian crust and a homemade Mama Mia pan pizza crust from the old lady’s oven in her Roma pensione.  Really a highlight at this place.

That same crust is used in the premiere Mama’s pizza, an excellent Pizza Caprese on their Mama’s crust, with an elegant balsamic vinegar glace (a little sweet and not too vinegary) under beautiful hunky slices of mozzarella and fresh cut vine ripened local farmers market tomatoes… with, of course, basil leaves atop each Caprese tower… makes for a wonderful pie.  Not anything I remember out of NYC however.  Much more like something out of the old country of Italia.

Bugogi Pizza (yes, Bugogi. You heard me right) with homemade Kimchi was fab. We only thought that the Kimchi could have been a bit spicier.  Not a NYC dish at all. In fact, would go great if this Pizza Joint were transplanted into Koreatown LA instead of near the airport terminals. This is the Pizza they should have served at Sony’s opening night Hollywood premiere party for The Interview. Oh well, I’d recommend ordering it for home delivery and watching the flick ONLINE instead. Definitely makes the top of list for North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

Melody’s is just across the street from In ‘N Out Burger, a Pie’s throw away. Ample street parking and even some parking in back. They also have their sister restaurant three doors down called Melody’s Bar & Grill, and there’s ample parking beyond it as well if you’re bring in your 767.  In fact, Melody’s Pizza menu can be ordered down the street at their Bar & Grill.  The waitress’ will run over and get your pizza and run back into the Bar & Grill with enough time to serve you up your drink and a karaoke tune as well.

The owners, Christian and Jen, a wonderful husband and wife restauranteur team manage their businesses with love and good taste. They’ve clearly chosen a winner in Ronnie the Pizza Guy who in his off time is a professional online gamer extraordinaire. Yep, NYC pizza and online gaming seem to go well together. You know you’ve got a winner when you pick up your slice and can hold it like a real New Yorker… the famous fold. And boy, it works here at Melody’s.

My favorite: The traditional Round.

Negatives: I miss the noise of the taxis of the NYC streets outside.  It just isn’t the same thing hearing or seeing Uber-mobiles transporting Angelenos to their respective airline terminals outside on Sepulveda. That makes me wanna get on a plane and go to the Big Apple for a slice at one of a dozen joints. But until then, I’ll sing the song of Melody’s.

Melody’s does a brisk biz in delivery too. A great neighborhood to do so in.  The local homeowners and renters and well as local businesses bring their need for pie to this establishment.  But just as important is the fact that this place delivers to all the Hotels in the area near LAX and along Century Blvd. as well as to the hard working LAX staff, flight attendants and TSA workers waiting around for a near perfect pie. It’s even close enough to the airport you could run over and grab a slice if you were hanging out between a plane change!

Melody Pizza has a fairly wide delivery area, if you’re in your jammies and don’t feel like going out. Check out their menu and order online or by calling (424) 227-7686. Open daily from lunch til late at 9146 Sepulveda and they cater, too!

(Editor’s note:  food samples were comped during this visit).


Melody Pizza Review

Christian and Ronnie

Melody Pizza Review

Caprese Salad Pizza



Dishing Up Some Meaty Goodness


Melody Pizza on Urbanspoon



Van Nuys, CA – Lido Pizza


Some little known facts about Mrs. Burgerdogboy:  she was raised by gypsies in the San Fernando Valley; because her family were travelers, there was no pizza place that could deliver, and, when G’ma wasn’t baking up mounds of from scratch Neapolitan style pizzas, Lido Pizza in Van Nuys was the family’s preferred provider.

Long story short, Mrs. BDB decided to surprise me with a Lido pie recently.

It’s a crust on the thinnish side, which I always prefer, crispy around the edge, nice and chewy as you work inward.

She took it upon herself to devise a combo she thought I would like, sausage, salami, meatball, and black olive, and it was superb.

The cheese was what struck me, tho, over the top in quantity and quality, the kind that stretches a foot when you lift a slice out of the box.

Thank you Mrs. BDB, I think I’ll keep you, as long as we can return to Lido next time we are in L.A.

Lido Pizza has locations in Van Nuys, Saugus, Canyon Country, Simi Valley, and Northridge.

Van Nuys, CA Lido Pizza


Lido Pizza on Urbanspoon



Los Angeles, CA 800 Degrees Pizza


800 Degrees PizzaHot off his success with Umami Burgers, Adam Fleishman has ventured into Neapolitan style pizza, with 800 Degrees, in the Westwood neighborhood of L.A.

They use “00” superfine flour from Italy, fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil from California, and an 800 degree oven – the result is a fresh pie, with chewy crust with a bit of char, is cooked in just about a minute.

Pies run in the range of $5 – $7, and various toppings are available.  Beer and wine, a few appetizers and salads round out the menu.

I started this post by saying “Neapolitan Style”, as there are pizzerias in the US which are actually ‘certified’ as genuine Neapolitan pizzas.  You can find a list here.

Our man on the scene in Los Angeles checked out 800 Degrees and pronounced it “superb.”

He sent along these pix – but no samples, regretfully.  Menu.

800 Degrees Pizza


800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


Canoga Park, CA – Jerry’s Pizzeria


Jerry's Pizzeria, Canoga Park, CA

Jerry's Pizzeria, Canoga Park, CA

I was tooling around the San Fernando Valley the other day, looking for sustenance, when I spotted Jerry’s Pizzeria on Sherman Way.  I found a parking place in the pack, and noted it was right next to a deli proclaiming they had “L.A.’s #1 sandwich.”  Hmm, dilemma.

As I had a scheduled lunch date at a place the next day who also purported to have L.A.’s favorite sandwich, Jerry’s won out.

I used to live fairly close to this neighborhood, but had never been in Jerry’s before, even tho they have apparently been around since the dawning of time.

Walking in through the back door, I was in a fairly large room with a lot of tables and chairs, a few video games, and amidst of local hangers-on who didn’t really seem to be customers or workers.  Maybe neighborhood guys who stop by to have a beer and watch TV.

I went to the counter and ordered a 12″ pepperoni, sausage, with extra cheese, and was told it would be ready in the standard 15 minutes.   I walked down the street in search of a mini mart to pick up a few things, and gaze into the window of “LA’s #1 sandwich.”  There was a line of people waiting for sandwich orders.

Picked up the pie and headed back to the air conditioned deliciousness of my motel room.  Opened the box and found a fairly nice looking pie crowding the box’s confines.  A “New York style” thin crust, and I immediately noted they prepare the sausage in the same manner of most NY pie shops, thin sliced link Italian sliced on bias.  The pepperoni gave off a little oily appearance, which indicates a higher fat content, and fat usually equals flavor.

Cheese was more than ample, and the pie appeared baked to my idea of perfection.  A little char on a crispy crust, with chewiness sure to appear as you worked your way inward.

Picked up a slice, it had nice “hang”, but to my delight, the toppings stayed in place.

The crust was as I imagined, the sauce unobtrusive, and the cheese was real, not “pizza topping.”

This is a good pie.  Funny I missed it the times I lived in L.A.  I shall return.


Jerry's Pizzeria, Canoga Park, CA

Jerry's Pizzeria, Canoga Park, CA


Jerry's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


Los Angeles – Olio Pizzeria


Olio is a word that has a number of meanings:  mixture, spanish stew, some other things.  But in the case of Bradford Kent’s “Olio“, it just means Delicious, with a capital “D.”

This newly opened, mid-city Los Angeles pie shop, the brainchild of Kent, a vet of all segments of the food industry, from research, to new product development, to selling pies in the L.A. Farmer’s Market.

I was toted over there by Larry the Lawyer, my L.A. eating buddy for nearly 30 years.  We regularly hit the new spots when I am in town, and he’s been to Olio several times in their first month, and wanted to share it with me.

The menu is brief, but chock-a-block full of interesting and high quality toppings.  Kent discussed some of his “secrets” with us in between shuffling food out of the hotter than Death Valley wood-fired blast furnace in which he does his cooking.  “The secret is in my dough, but I’m not telling you the secret.”   Kent uses Caputo, as most respectable pie-makers do these days.  Caputo is the standard pizza flour in Italy, and you can buy it at gourmet shops or online, in one kilo (2.2 pounds) or 55 pound bags.

We wanted to “challenge” Kent, so starting with his basic Margherita, we dared him to use in-house ingredients to make an “all-meat” pie, which he admitted wasn’t one of his favorites, and would not appear on the menu.   He had some prosciutto on hand, as well as his house-made chicken Italian, pulled manually in rough chunks, the way I prefer.  He added a mountain of a unique cheese blend, popped it in the blast furnace for 6-7 minutes, and out it came, perfect Neapolitan style, bubbly, crispy crust, goody cheese, and adorned with a variety of meat toppings just for us.

If you love good pizza, you’ll REALLY love this, but order several to try his various creative combinations.

Olio is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also does smash-up catering events.

We had the intent when we started the evening, to start at Olio and move across the street to check out Pat La Freda’s special meat at Burger Kitchen.

But the pizza was so damned good, I didn’t want to cut in on the experience at all.  Burgers will have to wait for another day.

Olio Pizza Los Angeles

Olio Pizza Los Angeles

Olio Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


Los Angeles, CA – Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizzeria


Big Mama’s & Papa’s is noted for (an empty claim) of the world’s largest pizza, a 36 incher they sell on their regular menu. Geez, I’d love to go for that, at least for the photo op. But what would I do with it then? Their description says it is cut into 50 slices. Here, tonight, I am four slices into a 13″ medium, and can’t go on.

Back in the day, I’ll bet I could have made a sizable dent in the 3 footer.

M&P’s have numerous locations in Southern California, “each location individually owned and operated” according to the sign on the Tarzana location I hit today. I went with the Meat Lover’s, pepperoni, salami, canadian bacon, mortadella, sausage and meatballs. Because that wasn’t enough salt, I had them add green olives. LOL.

Judging from the condiment packs in the box, (which has a ruler printed on it, to show the size), M&P’s is a loyal customer of Roma Distributing, arguably the country’s largest supplier to pizza shops.

When you open the box, you might have the opinion that this one’s gonna hurt the next day. Remains to be seen at this point, but the grease factor is definitely present, but not overwhelming.

M&P’s claims “only fresh ingredients” and who am I to argue? The toppings were ample, the cheese stretchy and gooey, and the “homemade red sauce” plenty appealing to my palate.

The sausage chunks were hand-pulled (a plus with me) and very flavorful. The mortadella added a nice new flavor to an all-meater.

The crust, altho a wee bit thicker than my usual preference, met the ‘crispy but chewy’ criteria, and had a butter flavor.

I’d go again. Big Mama’s and Papa’s delivers, but closes early (10PM) – at least the Tarzana location does.

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Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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