In Eater LA’s new series, Highly Opinionated, Eater’s editors dive into a specific and oft-debated food obsession in Los Angeles. This month brings the hot takes to New York-style pizza slices, a format that has long been popular in Los Angeles but has only recently reached heights that would begin to approach the city it is from. native. Now here are the three best places to get pizza in New York City in the City of Angels.
Los Angeles isn’t known for its pizza, but surprisingly there’s a wide range of places to get well-crafted pizza here. From the growing Neapolitan influence at Pizzana to the iconic smoked salmon pizza topped with caviar and creme fraiche at Spago, Angelenos have loved thin-crust pizza for generations. While long-established pizzerias have imported the classic pizza from New York to Los Angeles, from Mulberry Street to Lamonica, a recent generation of restaurants has helped put a special twist on the simple round pie topped with canned tomato sauce, cheese and sliced meats. We break it down Wirecutter-style, like we did with Korean BBQ, with best recommendation, an alternative selection, and an old-school choice to honor the work of a classic pizzeria.
Why trust me: In short, I love pizza. I once almost ate two whole pizzas by myself while on a day hike to eat the Charcoal Pies in New Haven, Connecticut. I’ve made pilgrimages to some of New York’s best pizzerias, from Di Fara to Best Pizza to John’s of Bleecker Street, though I still have plenty of slices to try there. And I’ve been to over 20 thin-crust pizza places in LA over the years, eating up to six slices a day just to find the best one. I also regularly make pizzas at home, from granny and Sicilian-style squares to classic New York-style rounds. I’m also notoriously willing to debate the subject — I almost even got thrown into a bar fight while debating pizza.
Favorites: Pizzeria Bianco
You might say it’s hard to crown this place as the best slice of New York style in LA when chef Chris Bianco’s restaurant is only three weeks old. But if Bianco’s reputation and consistency are cause for concern, look to his decades-old tenure in Phoenix. Pizzeria Bianco in Los Angeles currently only serves three New York-style slices: a red slice with tomato sauce and homemade cheese; thinly sliced and “green” salami with caciocavallo, spinach cream sauce and parmigiano reggiano. The wide slices here are masterfully put together, with flecks of creamy mozzarella tossed in parmesan for a nutty, salty kick. Bianco uses its Bianco DiNapoli canned tomatoes, easily among the best on the market, with a rounded savory flavor finished with a mild sweetness. And the blistered crust is almost tender at the mochi near the cornicione, barely burnt from the oven at the bottom.
The higher hydration makes this crust, made with organic flour, the best possible base for the balance of cheese and fillings. The green slice feels like the perfect complement to the tomato sauce versions, with an oily vegetable sauce that counteracts the more nutty caciocavallo cheese. These slices beg to be talked about, to be swooned over, to be remembered long after you’ve chewed the last bit of crust. Pizzeria Bianco will soon open its doors for dinner and the chef will serve his classic neapolitan wood-fired pizzas. At this time, slices are only served for lunch, and for dinner, large, whole 18-inch New York-style pies will only be available for take-out. 1320 E 7th St #100, Los Angeles, CA
The solid alternative to classic New York slices: Apollonia’s
With a split lunch and dinner service operating for just five-and-a-half hours each day they’re open (Wednesday-Sunday), Mid-Wilshire’s Apollonia’s Pizza feels unreachable, with a cash-only approach and only two slices available at the shop: cheese and pepperoni. But these slices are absolutely glorious, prime examples of New York’s finest kind of pizza where cheese and sauce meld together in a magical game of stretchy, flavorful goodness. The cheese pizza is gorgeous and the pepperoni, with its slightly curved cups of spicy mini salami, could be even better.
These are traditional slices that feel less artisanal but still offer a very developed and flavorful crust. The sauce is more robust here than Bianco’s, more reduced and tinged with herbs and black pepper, giving it the aggressive seasoning of the tastes of Di Fara in Brooklyn. However, without basil margherita on Apollonia’s menu, the slices can’t reach the heights of Dom DeMarco’s fiery pizza. For West Coast pizza lovers, Apollonia is a fantastic consolation, and the entire pie menu features more than two dozen topping combinations. Note: they accept online orders and you can pay with a credit card when ordering this way. Oh, and they do gluten-free pizzas in whole pie form. 5176 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
The sentimental choice of the old school: Vito’s
Originally located in East Hollywood, and now in a simple strip mall along La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood, Vito di Donato’s New York/New Jersey style pizza is one of the most consistent slice shops from the city. With wide, thin crusts modestly topped with often whimsical combinations, like the Garibaldi, smothered in jalapeno, tomatoes, meatballs and red sauce, di Donato’s small establishment is best known when the jovial pizza maker strolls through the shop. Classic cheese slices merge sauce and mozzarella into a two-millimeter plane while the paper-thin crust requires a crease to eat properly. Served on ribbed paper plates and cooked in minutes, the formula was successful enough for expansion to Santa Monica. While it’s nice for di Donato’s brand, the West Hollywood original is still the one to visit. 846 N. La Cienega Blvd. West Hollywood, California