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Sicilian Pizza, you're breakin' my heart...

I mentioned this in passing on a different pizza post a few days ago and now realize the topic deserves its own narrowed thread: I still have a very soft spot for intentionally and unmistakably thick, square-cut "Sicilian" pizza. The stuff used to be ubiquitous in pizza display cases, yet now seems noticeably out of favor in our thin-crust-insistent culture. But I still love a good hearty slice of it from time to time.

Since moving to L.A. more than 15 years ago, I've found very few places make it well (if they bother to make it at all anymore). My favorite in town is at Lamonica's in Westwood Village on Gayley, where IMHO they get it just right: perfect thickness (I'm guessing just under an inch), crunchy and a bit crackly on the outside, chewy in the center, gooey cheese and spicy sauce. Even if it's been sitting on the counter for a while, it's always the best choice there (and I remain a fervent supporter of the entire Lamonica's lineup).

Any recommendations for other Sicilian pizzas would be appreciated, preferably on or near the westside.

And just to be clear, I'm not looking for debatable alternatives like Chicago-style pies, Zelo's or Barone's. Been there, done 'em, loved a lot of 'em, but they're not what I'm seeking here. Just good old-fashioned Sicilian, please.

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  1. I just posted asking for the same thing on the los angeles lj community. Other than Lamonica's I got these places suggested to me today. Haven't had a chance to try any out yet, but figured I'd share the info. Let me know what you think of them if you get a chance to try them out before I do.

    Casa Bianca on Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock
    Hard Times Pizza in Silverlake
    Frankie and Johnnies on Sunset blvd(strip)
    Little Brooklyn on Melrose by Formosa

    4 Replies
    1. re: morgana

      I grew up in New Jersey so I know sicilian, and a truly great square is hard enough to come by in NJ, let alone out here in LA (If you've seen my previous recent posts, I have the same situation with "New York style" eggrolls).

      I can save you some legwork by telling you that Casa Bianca is definitely not what you're looking for. And I think Morgana is referring to Albano's Brooklyn Pizzeria on Melrose, which may have Sicilian slices but I've always found their pizza sub-par as my last slice there was undercooked, dusted with cornmeal (never should NY pizza be dusted with cornmeal) and the sauce itself had an off flavor that did not bring the flavors of the slice together.

      One suggestion (though I have not tried their Sicilian) is a Jersey style pizza place called "Tomato Pie" on Melrose, just east of Fairfax. I'm not entirely sure they have Sicilian slices, but the place overall is pretty authentic (down to the shakers of garlic/oregano/cheese/hot pepper flakes) and the pizza is pretty fresh as it gets a good turnover crowd due to the high school across the street (of course high pedestrian turnover is a rarity in pizza joints in LA since people generally don't walk anywhere!) The slice I had at Tomato Pie was much better than Albano's, but not really transcendent either. Of course, my gold standard for pizza is Di Fara in Brooklyn, so anything in LA is going to fall WAY short.

      Two more places to check out are Larchmont Village Pizza, on Larchmont south of Melrose, and Mulberry Street Pizza (multiple locations), which are both places run by people highly familiar with pizza back east. Again I cannot vouch for whether or not they sell Sicilian slices but I would not be surprised if they do.

      Mr Taster

      1. re: Mr Taster

        In the interest of saving the OP some more legwork... I don't think Hard Times has any Sicilian style pizza.

        1. re: Mr Taster

          In the interest of investigating my own recs, I did go to Mulberry Street Pizza today (Beverly Bl. location) and they do indeed have Sicilian pie. However it was relegated behind a big glass door behind the counter and didn't look fresh, so I didn't buy it. I saw however that they charge an outrageous $27 for a Sicilian pie (and $2.75 for a plain cheese slice) so this is one of the few instances in which New York food is a bargain compared to its LA equivalent!

          Incidentally, the slice was floppy (undercooked) but otherwise quite nice... flavor of the sauce melded well with the other components. Next time I'll have to tell the guy to make the slice well done. We also got the meatball parm sub special-- $6.95 for a foot-long meatball parm with nice side salad and a drink. Sub was nice-- meatballs were a little soft for my taste and spicing was okay, but the bread, sauce and cheese were great-- baked in the oven so it was crispy and slightly charred around the edges. For $6.75 this was a great deal.

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster

            Speaking of DiFara, are there any places in LA that use the olive oil as liberally on the crust? I'm convinced that (plus the meat sauce) are the keys to a great square slice...

        2. We used to get a "Sicilian Style" deep dish pizza from Pizzarito in Marina del Rey. It was always deep, flavorful, and ample, with a crust as you describe. The owner is a New Yorker and their first-listed pizza is a thin crust New York style pizza.

          Unfortunately they closed about a year ago, but promised to return--and now have started rebuilding! The location is next to Vons in the big shopping center just west of Lincoln and Mindanao. They even updated their generic phone message [(310)823-7333]. The new space looks like it will be larger, so hopefully there will be indoor dining. We can't wait for them to open. You may like their pizza too, but as a native Californian I can't compare it to what's served up in NY/NJ.

          1. Mama's Brick Oven in South Pasadena (on Fair Oaks) has Sicilian style pizza. They have great slices in general, as well as stuffed pizzas, calzones, and various pasta specials. It's gem, and not one I read about often on this board.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hailyn

              I tried going there last week, and apparently the staff said the ovens were broken and they had to shut down for the rest of the day. EGAD.

              I'm going to go back ... bad timing on my part I guess.

            2. There's a branch of Frankie and Johnnies now in Venice / Marina Del Rey on Washington Blvd. They have Sicilian style pizza. I've tried a slice or two and it wasn't bad. It's in the shopping center with the new Wells Fargo and Joni's Coffee Roaster on Washington @0 Via Marina.

              1 Reply
              1. Try PETRILLOS in San gabriel on Valley BLVD. Their Large Specialty is rectangle cut into squares

                1 Reply
                1. re: Skunk2Racer

                  actually, I believe they are paralelograms

                2. i would recommend Napoli on sepulveda, near manchester, both for their ny slices and the sicilian...

                  1. LA NY Pizza downtown
                    518 W 6th st
                    L.A. 90014

                    Used to be a Lamonicas, and they serve the same sicilian as before. Recommended. Their NY style is good too.

                    1. Try Rocco's 6335 Wilshire Blvd. Their Italian is reminicent of NY style pizzaria...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: divergirl

                        I've eaten there for lunch many times... they do not serve Sicilian slices and their regular slices are only vaguely reminiscent of NY style (too thick, for one). However their meatball parm sandwiches are excellent.

                        Mr Taster

                      2. I have been going to Villa Italian on Sepulevda and Washington Blvds for years. Their pizza is about one half to three quarters of an inch. It is baked in a rectangular baking pan and we think it is great. Get it well done, so it's nice and cripsy. This is a full on Italian restaurant. It's nothing fancy but good food. It's across the street from Tito's Tacos in Culver City, west side of Sepulveda.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: paprkutr

                          Sadly I must disagree with your assessment. The pizza we had there (in search of a Pizzarito alternative) was rectangular, thin, and unample in sauce, cheese, toppings, and flavor. They were doing a good business and we were hopeful (there was once a wonderful Mom & Pop Villa Italian in Westchester), but this Villa Italian is far short of what the cuisine is capable of delivering. IMHO, anyway.

                        2. OK, I'm not the pizza afficionado, but is Chicago the same as Sicilian style? Because Masa in Echo Park is supposed to have a great thick crust Chicago style pizza. Haven't tried it myself, but everyone tells me it's great. If you go, get the bread pudding because holy cow is it amazing. I'm luke warm on their panini, but I've only tried two different ones. Quiche is good. Husband loves the meatloaf.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: folly

                            I think the difference is is that the thickness from a chicago pizza comes from the heavy amount of ingrediants while most of the thickness in a sicilian pizza comes from a thicker crust.

                            1. re: folly

                              Unfortunately, Chicago style is a very different beast than sicilian.

                              1. re: folly

                                Chicago is nowhere near a silician slice... a good sicilian slice is not just a matter of making a square pizza. The sauce is different, the cheese is different, the crust is totally different (ideally with a nice crispy layer at the bottom with an inch of soft bread on top). It's like the NY style eggroll-- if you've never had it, trying to make it will be like shooting in the dark.

                                Mr Taster

                              2. I did the Mulberry sicilian and it was pretty good. Same with Lamonica's. But they're still just using the same stuff as their thin crust and just adding more of everything (cheese, sauce, dough). Rocco's was decent. I can't give you a sicilian rec, but the best thick crust I've had out here is Prizzi's on Franklin.

                                I think anytime you give a pizza recommendation on the board, you should list your big five so people can see if they're in your camp or not.

                                1. Village and Lamonica's (tie)
                                3. Mulberry
                                4. Damiano's (X-large only)
                                5. Casa Bianca (with sausage)

                                Last thing. Every New Yorker who goes on about NY pizza needs to spend a week in Chicago and do some research. Start with Gino's East.

                                1. Somebody had mentioned that Pizzarito in MDR had closed - they are now back open and still as good as ever. Now I don't have to deal with westwood parking just to get a great slice of pie (Lamonicas)

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: civicisr

                                    The Lamonica's parking secret? Park in Whole Foods, buy a single product (or don't), go get the slice at Lamonica's.

                                    1. re: civicisr

                                      Concur. Pizzarito is great. The ultimate guilty pleasure is taking home one of their Sicilian Style Deep Dish pizzas and not limiting myself to just one slice :)

                                      1. re: Lee by the Sea

                                        Going over one slice? We need to work on your guilty pleasures!

                                        1. re: sloanedone

                                          Real, very good Sicilian pizza can be found at a little hole in the wall called Zeppy's in Hermosa Beach, a hundred feet in from the beach, on the street that runs directly into the pier. Enjoy.

                                    2. It's not on the westside and I haven't eaten there in a couple years (since I moved to the westside myself), but D' Amores in Sherman Oaks had the only thing I can call good Sicilian out here. I'm a Queens, NY native and I've had some absolutely amazing thick pie back east, so take it for what you will.

                                      D'Amores Pizza Connection
                                      14519 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91403

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: rlic80

                                        try Valentinos in Manhattan Beach or El Segundo. I know the MB spot makes Sicilian Pie. Always went for the round thin crust though..

                                        1. re: rlic80

                                          What part of Queens? And when? It used to be that every pizza place in Queens was better than any pizza place here. I grew up in Bayside and Glen Oaks.

                                          1. re: Jeryy

                                            Staten Island.. I know what you mean!!!!!!

                                            1. re: Foodandwine

                                              Nowadays NYC is hit and miss - especially anyplace named Ray's.

                                            2. re: Jeryy

                                              Kew Gardens growing up. Then Astoria for a short time before relocating out here. I can't even begin to name all the places I miss. I don't knock LA dining though, cause no matter what anyone says, the west coast dominates on the hamburger & taco front!