Having lived in Italy for over two years in two different cities and having traveled much of the country itself, I feel relatively confident speaking as an authority for phenomenal pizza. As a child I was infatuated with deep dish. I used to love thick, chewy fast food pizza styles such as dominoes, roundtable, and don’t forget little Caesars PizzaPizza!
This is no longer the case is I am definitely more conscious about how much dough and bread I put into my body despite being a true lover of homemade bread. I’m a fan of the thin crust!
The two best pizza restaurants in Los Angeles are Pitfire Pizza in North Hollywood on the corner of Magnolia and Lankershim, and Pizzeria Mozza on the corner of Highland and Melrose in Hollywood. These two places have mastered the art of pizza making such a way that they will leave you wondering what the other 500,000 pizza establishments in the world were ever thinking. There should be some sort of law against bad pizza making.
These two are both very different places in almost every sense of the word from price point, two ingredients, the style and presentation. I first discovered Pit Fire years ago when I was taking classes at one of LA’s most renowned dance studios at the time, Millennium Dance Complex, which is roughly 4 units down. I walked over to the outside area that has a fire in the center area, tried a pizza and I was in love. The name of the restaurant speaks for itself: Pit Fire. The number one essential rule and having delicious pizza is that the pizza must not be cooked inside some silly pizza oven. In 95% of restaurants, if I walk in and see a pizza oven in the kitchen I will walk right out. There is simply no way to get the flavor of outstanding pizza without cooking it in a wood fired oven.
Just look at the magnificence that stands before you the above photograph. It is a winter squash pizza with Swiss chard, light fontina cheese, pumpkin seeds, and I usually add marinara sauce and roasted cauliflower. I will then always request no burn so that it has no blackened areas. Once it arrives I give it a drizzle of spicy pizza oil and a smattering of Parmesan cheese and roasted red chili flakes. The flavor explosion that results is nothing short of spectacular.
Is often hard to resist one of their freshly baked chocolate chip cookies that always sits at the register. They literally command my hand to grab one. On a hot summer day, their watermelon cooler is also fantastic!
Mario Batalli’s Pizzeria Mozza, which stands almost subserviently next to the elegant fine dining restaurant Osteria Mozza next door (another top choice) is an entirely different category of pizza altogether. This pizza establishment may just be some of the best pizza I have ever had in the world! The freshness and quality of the ingredients is second to none. The sourdough crust it is exquisitely crispy on the outside and tender and she rearming inside what have you reflecting back on the experience for the next several days. If I could make the love this pizza I would do it. If you do not speak Italian however, good luck figuring out what everything is. There are so many unusual flavors on this menu you can literally come back over 20 times and not have the same pizza twice.
And for as much as I love complex flavor, new things, and exciting combinations, I often return to the classics: prosciutto arugula, margarita, sausage pizza, squash blossom pizza, and yes even a pepperoni pie. This restaurant has the capacity to turn the most adamant vegan into a carnivore, as it certainly has for me.
There is nothing more that needs to be going into your mouth at this establishment other than the pizza, however the side dishes are truly amazing. I have had great success with the meatballs, the white bean bruschetta, any of their assorted salads, the fried squash blossoms stuff with her cottage cheese, and most importantly the roasted cauliflower with red onion and mint yogurt garlic dip.
It is extremely challenging to save room for the butterscotch budino (pudding) but you must do so!! You will feel like a small child who has been given something sweet for the first time. Zero complaints for the olive oil ice cream either, much less anything else on their dessert menu. It’s also sometimes fun to walk around the corner to the Mozza To Go takeout area and pick up some Italian desserts there.
Make no mistake, pizzeria Mozza is fine dining pizza at its best, and the owners, teachers and employees all know this. Generally you’ll need to make a reservation well or you can do is I often do and have lunch or dinner at some obscure hour of the day such as lunch at 4 PM or dinner at 10:30 at night. At these times you can almost be guaranteed to walk in and actually get a table versus sitting at the bar right away.
Pit Fire on the other hand is much more laid back. Where the price point for Mozza averages about $20 for pizza, Pit Fire is roughly half of that. In fact the super decadent pizza photographed above costs only $10. Except for peak times, there is almost never a wait, and you can literally walk in, order the counter, sit down and wait for your order to be delivered. It’s an outstanding lunch or dinner place when you don’t need to impress. they also actually have a full menu of other soups, salads, I need to use, and main dishes as well but you, like me, may find that you never have a need to bother.