In the new Eater LA series, Highly Opinionated, Eater editors delve into one specific and controversial food obsession in Los Angeles. This month brings hot New York City-style pizza slices, a format that has long been popular in Los Angeles, but has only recently risen to heights that will start getting closer to the city where it originated. Here now, the three best places to get NYC pizza in the City of Angels.
Los Angeles is not famous for pizza, but surprisingly there are a wide variety of places to get well-made pizza here. From the growing influence of our Neapolitan pizza to the famous smoked salmon pizza topped with caviar and fresh cream in Spago, Angelenos have loved thin-crust pizza for generations. While old pizzerias have imported classic New York City pizza to Los Angeles, from Mulberry Street to La Monica, a new batch of eateries has helped give a simple, round pie topped with canned tomato sauce, cheese, and steak slices a special touch. We break this down a la Wirecutter, as we did with Korean barbecue, with the high recommendation, pick one alternative, and old-school pick to honor the work of a classic pizzeria.
Why you should trust me: Simply put, I love pizza. Almost once I ate two whole pizzas myself on a day trip to eat charcoal pancakes in New Haven, Connecticut. I’ve made a pilgrimage to some of New York City’s best pizzerias, from Di Fara to Best Pizza to John’s of Bleecker Street, although I still have many slices to try there. I’ve eaten over 20 pizzerias in Los Angeles over the years, eating upwards of six slices a day to find the best. I also regularly make pizza at home, from granny square and Sicilian style to classic, round New York style. I’m also willing to famously debate the topic – I was almost thrown into a fight while discussing pizza.
Overall Favorite: Bianco Pizza
One could say it’s hard to crown this place as the best all-in-one NYC-style slice in Los Angeles when chef Chris Bianco’s restaurant is just three weeks old. But if Bianco’s reputation and consistency is a concern, check out his decades-long tenure in Phoenix. Pizzeria Bianco in Los Angeles serves only three New York-style slices at the moment: a red slice with tomato sauce and cottage cheese; Thin slices of salami and “green” with cassiocavallo, creamy spinach sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The wide slices here are brilliantly assembled, with splashes of creamy mozzarella mixed with Parmigiano for a salty and nutty finish. Bianco uses Bianco DiNapoli canned tomatoes, easily among the best on the market, which have a delicious, well-rounded flavor with a pleasant sweetness. And the blistering crust is almost mushy near the cornice, barely enriched by the furnace at the bottom.
The more hydration, this crust made with organic flour becomes the best possible base for the balance of cheese and toppings. The green slice feels like the perfect complement to the tomato sauce versions, with an oily vegan sauce that counters the richer, richer caciocavallo cheese. These slices need to be talked about, until they faint, to remember them long after the last piece of the shell has been chewed. Pizzeria Bianco will soon open for dinner and the chef will be serving classic Neo-Neapolitan wood-fired pizza. For now, the slices are lunch only, dinner service is coming up, and the large 18-inch New York-style whole pies will be available for takeout only. 1320 E 7th St #100, Los Angeles, CA
The solid alternative to classic New York City slides: Apollonia’s
With a split lunch and dinner service operating for only five and a half hours each day and it’s open (Wednesday to Sunday), Apollonia’s Mid-Wilshire pizza seems inaccessible, with a cash-only approach and only two slices available in the shop: cheese and pepperoni. But these slices are absolutely gorgeous, and they’re prime examples of New York City’s best pizza where cheese and sauce are combined in a magical interplay of savory taste. The cheese pizza is amazing, and the pepperoni, with its slightly curved cups of spicy little salami, could be better.
These are traditional slices that look less artisanal but still offer a very sophisticated and delicious crust. The sauce here is more robust than Bianco sauce, and is less dense and colored with herbs and black pepper, giving it a strong spice to the likes of de Vara in Brooklyn. However, with no basil-covered margheritas on the menu at Apollonia’s, the slices couldn’t quite reach the heights of Dom DeMarco’s late pizza. For fans of West Coast pizza, Apollonia is a great solace, and the full pie menu ranges from more than twenty combinations. Note: They accept online orders, and one can pay with a credit card when ordering in this way. Oh, and they make gluten-free pizza in the form of a whole pie. 5176 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California
Old School Emotional Choice: Veto
Originally located in East Hollywood, and now in a regular shopping mall along La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood, Vito di Donato’s perennial NYC/NJ-style pizza has been one of the city’s most consistent chip shops. With broad, fluffy crusts modestly covered with often exotic combinations, such as Garibaldi, topped with jalapeno, tomato, meatball and red sauce, this little institution di Donato is best experienced when the fun pizza wanders around the store. Classic cheese slices combine sauce and mozzarella at a level of 2 millimeters while the paper-thin crust requires a fold to be eaten properly. Served on ribbed paper plates and released within minutes, the formula worked enough to expand to Santa Monica. While that’s great for the di Donato brand, the West Hollywood original is still a must-visit. 846 N. La Cienega Blvd. West Hollywood, CA