Celebrity-owned restaurants are nothing new for Los Angeles, but even jaded diners had to concede there was something special about Pizzana. The original location opened in Brentwood in 2017. It was backed by Sprinkles Cupcakes founders Candace and Charles Nelson, and their partners, actor Chris O’Donnell and his wife Caroline.
Los Angeles was in the midst of a pizza boom. But chef and master pizzaiolo Daniele Uditi, who grew up and honed his craft in his native Naples, still managed to stand out from the crowded field thanks to his “bubbly slow dough,” seasonal toppings and creative neo-Neapolitan pies. The restaurant even garnered a coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand earlier this year when the guide returned to California.
Although hopscotching across the 405 at rush hour was worth it, Eastsiders can consider themselves lucky that the team recently opened a new location in the heart of West Hollywood, just south of the bars of Boystown. Taking over the former Ed’s Coffee Shop, the smell of fresh-baked pizza now wafts amidst a stretch of upscale interior design showrooms.
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Speaking of interiors, the indoor dining room seats less than a dozen. There are a few small tables and a counter overlooking the kitchen, which is dominated by two enormous wood-fired Stefano Ferraro ovens imported from Naples. The main action is out on the covered front patio: The space is narrow, so tables are set flush against a brick wall. The mood also remains casual and convivial thanks to low-hanging, low-watt bulbs and a few well-placed planters. This area can also only accommodate a small clutch of diners at a time, so reservations are essential.
Bring It On
If you do snag a table, prepare to settle in for both warm service and delicious fare. Start with the carciofi arrostiti, crispy fried baby artichokes, charred artichoke heart and toasted pine nuts sprinkled with tangy parmigiano, lemon and olive oil.
It’s a simple but delicious dish you might find at a traditional Roman trattoria. The hearty, wood-fired meatballs are doused in San Marzano DOP tomato sauce and served with crusty wood-fired bread. There’s also caprese salad with blistered cherry tomatoes, basil pesto, and creamy burrata for those who like something straightforward but scrumptious.
The quartet of salads includes a Caesar made from little gem lettuce with fried capers, parmigiano, pizza crust croutons and Calabrian chile dressing for a kick. The shaved Brussels sprouts are tossed with lolla rossa lettuce, sliced apples, toasted pistachios and a savory-sweet caramelized shallot vinaigrette.
All About the Pie
Now it’s time for the main attraction: the pizza. The tables have anchors for serving trays that stack like tinker toys — so order as many as you like. Before you make your final decision though, consult the specials list.
Occasionally it might include such options as the now-signature smoked salmon pizza (which Uditi made in homage of Wolfgang Puck’s famous version) with luscious strips of fish complemented by dollops of mild ricotta, sprigs of fresh dill and parsley, some briny bottarga for contrast, chive, and lemon zest to add a touch of freshness.
As for the regular options, mushroom lovers can choose between the funghi and tartufo pies. Every mouthful of the former is a burst of umami delight, containing Italian crema, fontina, juicy shiitake and oyster mushrooms, and caramelized onions. The latter is earthier but still flavorful – delicate slices of Norcia black truffle resting on a bed of fior di latte, fontina, and pine nuts.
Top It Off
The corbarina pizza tastes like a simple summer evening dish, topped as it is with San Marzano DOP tomato sauce, gooey burrata, cherry tomatoes, zesty gremolata and bright yellow zucchini blossoms. Finally, treat yourself to the decadent cacio e pepe pizza with smoky provoloncino di agerola, velvety fior di latte and pungent parmigiano crema dusted with cracked black pepper for just the right amount of spice. You can order any of the pizzas with Uditi’s gluten-free crust if you prefer.
Hopefully you’ve left room for dessert since these offerings were overseen by sweets savant Candace Nelson herself. The apple upside down cake with salted caramel and vanilla ice cream is a crowd favorite, as is the luscious vanilla bean panna cotta with a salted caramel surface and caramelized pretzels on top. For pure indulgence, though, select the dark chocolate olive oil cake. It is fluffy, moist and rich, topped with a satiny layer of chocolate frosting, and comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
Don’t Spare the Pairings
The list of wines is small but sharp with options by the glass, quartino, or bottle sourced from both California and Italy. These include a tongue-tinglingly crisp Pinot Grigio from Lombardia and a brawny Chianti redolent of black cherry and licorice flower.
Can’t get a reservation? Stop by after your evening out in WeHo for a New York-style thin crust slice, available after 10pm daily. Pizzanna is located at 460 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90048. Call them at 310-657-4662. Visit pizzana.com.
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Last modified: October 28, 2019