Once upon a time, not so long ago, if an Angeleno had a hankering for a piece of pie, they’d have to make due with chain-cooked cardboard, the slightly better (at least in its early days) CPK, or make a long trek in traffic to get to a handful of old-school family-run institutions. Thankfully, over the last 10 years, pepperoni perfectionists, wood-fired fans, and dough diehards have risen up to make their voices heard and everyone from New York transplants and immigrants with their nonna’s recipes to top chefs like Nancy Silverton have stepped up to meet the demand. Yep, any way you slice it, Los Angeles is in the midst of a full-blown pizza revolution. And whether you’re looking for takeout or a sit-down situation, deep dish or thin crust, gluten-free or fully-loaded, your stomach will thank you for taking it to any of the following 15 piemakers.
This Brentwood entry was one of a handful of pizza purveyors that made late critic/hometown hero Jonathan Gold’s top 101 LA restaurants list. Backed by actor Chris O’Donnell and the couple behind Sprinkles, chef Daniele Uditi starts with his signature slow dough made with Italian flour that gets fermented and proofed for two days. He adds a mix of imported ingredients (like fior di latte mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes grown for the restaurant) and consciously sourced toppings (squash blossoms, artichokes, avocados). Select the take-and-bake option if you'd like you pizza at home. The cacio e pepe is unique and exquisite. Reservations are recommended and a West Hollywood chapter is coming soon.
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the James Beard-winning duo behind Animal, added this all-day Italian establishment to their restaurant empire a few years ago. On Fairfax, amid hipster sneaker boutiques and Jewish trinket shops, this simple space slings house-made pastas and pizzas that fall somewhere in the grey area between the Naples staple and American delivery. Try the LA Woman, an elevated margherita with burrata, or Sonny’s Favorite, which has grilled Nueske’s bacon, grana padano and onion. They brilliantly sell extra dips (marinara, Italian and ranch) for those who believe leftover crust is sinful. It’s always busy.
This cash-only Eagle Rock institution is old school in all the best ways. The Martorana family has owned and operated the parlor with a retro neon sign since 1955 using recipes passed down through generations. Tables are covered in red- and white-check tablecloths and green pleather booths are filled with tattooed parents, their hungry broods and Occidental students. Red pepper flakes and cheese powder are always within reach. And with gingerly applied sauce, bubbly cheese and chewy crust, the pizza is consistently delicious. Call ahead for reservations or you will wait, especially on weekends.
Created by Nancy Silverton, Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali (who stepped down in 2017 amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations), Mozza was ground zero for LA’s latest pizza reawakening. The names were enough to lure eaters to a non-descript corner south of Hollywood on Highland. The wood-fired pizzas, with their crisp yet fluffy trademark crust with a pinch of buckwheat (so it’s basically health food, right?) and gourmand toppings like leeks, stinging nettles, taleggio and guanciale, made them stay. At the bar, it’s first-come, first-served. Make reservations up to a month in advance and save room for butterscotch budino.
Valley dwellers need to eat too and when they want pizza they turn to this women-run strip-mall secret in Lake Balboa. Food puns and graffiti fill the walls. Cool music blasts. Energetic youngsters take orders at the counter for trendy selections with jalapenos/Sriracha sauce, vegan cheese and sausage or Animal-style for In-N-Out devotees. They do brisk takeout and delivery business but also have a small seating area for dining in on 12- or 20-inch rounds. Seafood lovers can try pies topped with either lobster bisque, tiger shrimp or salmon lox, dill cream, chives and lemon.
Silverton’s second pie-centric shop is a fast-casual Highland Park eatery with a sunny patio that is far easier on the wallet than Mozza. In fact, the $10 weekday lunch special (4 pieces of pizza, a soda and a bread knot) is a steal. Triple Beam specializes in Roman style in flavors like delicata squash with honey. You tell the server how big of a piece you want of whatever is in the case and they cut your custom piece with specialty scissors and charge based on weight.
The downright cavernous Hollywood pizza hall with a massive free parking lot (a very big deal in LA) is great for groups who want classic Neapolitans with a side of craft beer and sports on big screens. Four side-by-side ovens churn out orders quickly (in 90 seconds to be exact) following the strict guidelines of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletna and using ingredients flown in weekly from the motherland.
New York transplants like to complain about the inferior LA pizza scene. Prime, which has locations in Little Tokyo and on Fairfax, and its ultra thin crusts will give them pause. (The steep $26/$28 price tag on an 18-inch whole pie should also make them feel at home.) They ferment dough for 24 hours before hand-stretching it and use California tomatoes and Wisconsin mozzarella. Stick to the basics — pepperoni, sausage or cheese — or go native with BBQ chicken and pickled jalapeno, cilantro and red onion.
The Empire State of mind is also alive and well at this beloved open-late, no-frills joint in West Hollywood. The owner, a living embodiment of the stereotypical chubby jovial chef from every pizza box ever, grinds out quality slices and whole pies including the best cheese slice in town according to the LA Times. Ironically, he also makes a mean cheese-less pie for the non-dairy crowd. Lactose lovers should indulge in the Chi Chi, a gooey delight with gorgonzola, toasted pine nuts and arugula.
Like Jon & Vinny’s, the story of this Echo Park eatery starts with a critically acclaimed chef (in this case Alimento’s Zach Pollack) gobbling up an long-time neighborhood staple (Pizza Buona), revamping its insides (slick black tile and dark wood) while retaining small nostalgic nods to the past and upgrading the classic family-style Italian-American restaurant experience to include heftier prices but ultimately better product. The pizzas are delightful with charred edges, big dough bubbles and sturdy enough construction to hold fresh produce and quality cold cuts. This is the place to go for a pie topped with pineapple and Canadian bacon.
Downtown LA needed a quality quickie option and this pizza window delivered (literally) just that. There’s a small smattering of stools and a counter attached to the wall to the right of where you order one of the 10 varieties if you don’t want to grab and go. Most are available as slices most of the time. Classics are reliable but we’d suggest being more adventurous and trying the honey-drizzled salami and provolone or mushroom/pea tendrils/fontina ones
The El Sereno up and comer does Chicago-style deep dish on the DL. Picking up pizza in an East LA industrial park, where your order emerges from behind a door marked office and payment is taken at the car, admittedly feels a little like a drug deal. These puppies named after LA streets take 30 minutes to bake and having them delivered can add up to an hour and a half depending on how busy they are. To ensure food arrives at a specific time, email before they open. Get one with homemade ricotta or cherry peppers.
There’s another Vito perfecting pizza in these parts. This time it’s Vito Iacopelli, an Italian master serious about his craft and capable of putting on quite the show throwing dough. After several years on Santa Monica Boulevard in the middle of Boystown (West Hollywood), he moved his well-oiled operation to Melrose. The carbonara with fried eggs and La Vito (mortadella, pistachio and stringy stracciatella) are crowd pleasers. There is gluten-free and whole-wheat dough and lactose-free mozzarella available for those with food restrictions.
Inside Century City’s vast Eataly food hall is this counter peddling oblong-shaped flatbreads covered in fine cheese, cured meats and seasonal produce sourced from area farms. Inspired by a popular street food in Rome and named after the wooden pala (paddle) they’re served on. Or if thin is in, sit down at the restaurant in the back, La Pizza & La Pasta, which hawks Neapolitans on two types of dough.
The heavenly offerings are worth the hellish traffic you’ll likely face trying to get to this intimate and simple space in Altadena. Not quite Chicago style, but far deeper than most on this list, the real draw to Zelo is the unique cornmeal crust. The best seller also features corn as a topping. Fresh kernels are paired with balsamic-marinated roasted red onions, smoked mozzarella and chives.