SF's Pizza Pundit, Tony Gemignani, Weighs In On L.A.'s Pies, Names His Favorite & Considers the Starfish Calzone
At Vito's on La Cienega, Gemignani was impressed with the joint's old school Baker's Pride oven. "This is an old one, so their stone is really seasoned," he explained. "It's a classic New York oven that people now who are opening places wish they could get." Though we noted the Vito's counter staff's perfect slice plating technique (on two white paper plates to fully support the wedge's girth and oil drippage potential), we opted for a full pie, split down the middle - half pesto, half pepperoni.
|Gemignani digs into Vito's|
While he found the pepperoni slices to be a bit flimsy, the white pieces were to Gemignani's mind perfect, sending him into a reverie of pizza-induced euphoria.
K. Robbins Vito's perfect pesto pie
"It looks bold. It looks awesome," he raved. "The ricotta is smooth and silky. The pesto has the right balance. It's sweet. It's garlicky. I can say this is one of the best slices I've ever had. And I've had slices everywhere."
After the pleasures of Vito's, we were a bit pizza drunk as we settled into our outdoor seats at Enoteca Drago, and so we decided to limit ourselves to the Beverly Hills bistro's much ballyhooed black truffle pie, the bomba. Gemignani went back into diagnostic mode, feigning a trip to the bathroom to case the joint. "I think this place could be really thin," he reported on his return from his reconnaissance mission. "They have rolling pins on a wood station."
So he was flummoxed when the waiter described the truffle pizza as being an inch thick, "almost like a starfish calzone."
"What the hell does that mean?" Gemignani wondered, running the phrase "starfish calzone" through his mental pizza archive until he settled on something in his experience that might explain the mysterious description. "You know what? They're putting a top on it. I went to a place in New York that does that," he conjectured. "It could be like a pizza on a pizza."
K. Robbins Enoteca Drago's "starfish calzone"
And when bomba arrived, with thin pita-like crust sandwiching the black truffles from the top and bottom, there was no mistaking the sense of proud redemption in Gemignani's voice as he christened this pizza sandwich a "panwich." "I had a feeling it would be thin. And it's paper thin," he remarked. And the taste? "Pretty good. It's nothing ground breaking. It's kind of like an appetizer you'd have before a meal."
So what was Gemignani's verdict on L.A. pizza? With one of the best slices ever from Vito's and a best in class from Pizzeria Mozza, we'd made a good showing. Still, he couldn't help but make a final plug for his joint. "Tony's is one of the only places where you can try every style," he told us proudly. "All these places we went to, you can try all in one place." With the exception of, he admitted, the starfish calzone.