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Pizza in Pasadena

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  • HooAe Nov 10, 2006 06:26 PM
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Just moved to Pasadena from Seattle and I'm dying for some really good pizza. Any tips for great pizza? NY floppy style preffered but any tips would be great.

Thanks,
Dan

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  1. You're not going to find NY style pizza in Pasadena, that's for sure. But that said, there are some places that are better than others.

    I like Avanti Pizza on Lake & Union for their wood-fired pizza (unfortunately, they only make California-style , "gourmet" pizzas in the wood-fired oven. I wish they would make their traditional topping pizzas in the wood-fired oven, but they don't seem to get it.)

    For decent take-out pizza, there's the Big Mama's and Papas pizza chain. This is Sunday football watching type pizza. Much better than the other delivery alternatives, but with the caveat that the wait is usually very long. They also have some interesting Georgian/Russian menu items that are quite good. 1772 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA.

    For Chicago thin-style pizza, there's Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock (about a 10min drive west on the 134). Most people either love this place, or they hate it. I happen to think the only pizza worth showing up for contains one of their two ingredients: sausage or fried eggplant (preferably both). I don't know how, but these 2 ingredients turn a pie that is just okay, into something worth waiting a few hours in line for. 1650 Colorado Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90041

    I've had the pie at South Lake Italian Kitchen & Tarantino's and can only recommend that if you've heard of them, you lose their number.

    10 Replies
    1. re: ozzygee

      I'm sure you'll make your way to Casa Bianca at least once. Get the sausage and garlic pizza "pie"(that's what they call it...kind of kitchy)

      Picture http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/10...

      I concur Domenicos on Washington has a good traditional pizza.

      Also now that almost all the pizza places in the Pasadena area have been mentioned, might as well mention California Pizza Kitchen.

      1. re: ozzygee

        Your comment about Tarantino's really surprised me? What didn't you like about their pizza? We ordered a large the other night and were very pleased - fresh made tomato sauce and tons of cheese. It probably isn't the best in the area, but its light years ahead of the cheap, dry, mass-market stuff Big Mama's and Papas sells.

        1. re: spankbot

          The crust was like a cracker. Maybe it was a bad night the first time, but the second time I went? It's not worth going back when there are better places.

          And you're wrong about Big Mama's & Papa's. First of all, they're a small local chain so it's not mass market, and they also toss the pizza to order (which is why it usually takes forever to get it). Anyway, I didn't say it was the best pizza ever, i said it was the best delivery pizza in town.

          1. re: ozzygee

            Did you order thin crust at Tarantino's?

            1. re: spankbot

              Interesting. I've never had anything approaching cracker like in Tarantino's crust in the many, many times I've gone. I actually like their crust because it tends to be a bit thicker and chewy.

              1. re: iluvtomago

                exactly

            2. re: ozzygee

              I'm a huge Big Mama's and Papa's fan...

              It's not the most "gourmet" pizza experience, but it's solid, tastes good, and is great for feeding a bunch of people at a party.

              I still haven't tried those one georgian specialties that they sell...or whatever they are, but I know I want one!

              1. re: therealbigtasty

                The khachapouri are great! I've had the regular with "only" feta, mozzarella, butter and 2 fried eggs. Maybe when my arteries clear, I'll work my way up to the bacon one.

                1. re: ozzygee

                  Damn the arteries! There has to be some sort of home artery cleaning kit...has to be.

          2. re: ozzygee

            If Avanti is representative of the best pizza in Pasadena... well, it makes me sad. We ate there last night, and had their wood-fired, gourmet pizzas. The toppings would have been the absolute best of what you could get in Von's, and the crust could have easily come from a frozen-microwavable-pizza factory. The pizza wasn't horrible, but it wasn't really good either.

            My five-year old was convinced by their sign "The best pizza in town". It might be. But if it is, that's pretty disappointing for the residents of Pasadena.

            -----
            Avanti Cafe
            111 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

          3. We recently dropped by Manny's Pizza at 16 N. Fair Oaks - Mrs. O had a big jones for pizza and we were in Old Town anyway. We got the margherita with anchovies added, and found it very good. Next time I'll ask for the cooking time to be extended, as I thought the crust needed more time in the oven. I will also try it with more traditional American-style toppings - I do like the occasional gloppy one! - just to get more of a feel for how good theirs are. But prices are good, service is fast and friendly, and it passed our most crucial test: it was excellent cold the next day!

            1. Two places I like.

              ZELO in Arcadia for deep-dish.

              TONY'S PIZZA in San Marino for thin-crust (a la NY-Style).

              Oh, and welcome to the 'Hood!

              ZELO
              328 East Foothill Blvd
              Arcadia
              626-358-8298

              TONY'S PIZZA
              2555 Huntington Dr
              San Marino
              626-793-4114

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Zelo is easily one of the best pies around, but it's not very traditional.

              2. Another option a bit west of Pasadena proper is Fratelli's Pizzeria on Verdugo in Montrose (an area where northwest Glendale, La Canada Flintridge and unincorporated LA County come together - just south of where the 2 and 210 freeways intersect).

                Be sure to ask for extra thin crust, and if you like it spicy, try ordering their arrabiata sauce.

                1. I agree on Casa Bianca, and no one ever does. I think the wait is the turn-off. But, the best pizza to me is in South Pasadena at Carmine's. The place is not a beauty but the thick crust pizza with tons of toppings will keep you thinking about the next time you'll go back. Also, get a plate of the gooey and garlicky "Gumbi" to go with it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chefthisguy

                    Welcome to the 'hood! I agree on all points with Chefthisguy. Carmine's does make the best pizza in town (IMO). I always get it cooked well done - that is a rule with me!! Gumbi is great, but instead of meatballs, I get it with their delicious sausage! Also, they have a great happy hour in which you can get their bambino pizza - a decent individual size with 2 toppings for $3.75. I also love their spicy chicken tenders (delish). Their Pasta Pescadore is amazing as are their soups. Actually, come to think of it, I like it all!! Just remember, get the pizza cooked well done! You can also order thin crust.
                    Not a fan of Big Mama's & Papas. The one time I had pizza at Tarantino's, it was worse than any frozen pizza I had ever had! House dressing and pastas are okay, though.
                    Mama's Brick Oven in South Pas is pretty good. Be sure not to pass on their garlic knots. Actually, I prefer their pizza roll-things to the pizza slices. Domenico's, very good. Especially the one on Washington. Their antipasta salad is amazingly good as well!

                  2. I agree with the recs for Tony's in San Marino and, surprisingly, Big Mama's & Papa's.

                    I have not yet tried the pizza at Luigi Ortega's, located at 1655 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena; I do enjoy their very authentic hoagies & cheesesteaks. The pizzas appeared to be very thin crust, and are cooked in a wood-burning oven, so they have that going for them.
                    http://www.luigiortegas.com/home.html

                    1. My vote is for Tarantino's on Green behind El Portal.

                      1. Actually, there is New York style pizza in South Pasadena

                        http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&h...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: julietg

                          I just noticed that place the other day. Is it any good?

                        2. Domenico's, locations in Pasadena, Arcadia; Monrovia.

                          Here is a report on the Monrovia location from a few years back, the pies are still that good:

                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: ChinoWayne

                            The Domenico's in Pasadena on Washington is MUCH better than the other locations. Its not a chain, each is separately owned.

                            1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                              While each Domenico's is seperatly owned and operated, they are all owned and operated by children of the original founder of the Washington, location. They are all probably using many of the same basic recipes that would have been handed down, but I do agree, execution at each location will vary.

                              When we lived in Pasdena we would frequent the Washington location, the Monrovia location is much closer to us (it used to be even closer when it was in Duarte, they moved from the Duarte location to the Monrovia location, which was formerly a car dealer, for the larger space.) Done, right, and to my specification, I really think the pies at the Monrovia location are excellent, as good as or better than the Washington location.

                              They are also very acommodating in Monrovia and in the past when I have hosted "team building" dinners for business colleages there they honored my special requestw, such as obtaining and preparing Alligator, which definately is not on their menu.

                              1. re: ChinoWayne

                                Alligator!?

                          2. I've always liked La Fornaretta, 39 S. Raymond, about a half block south of Colorado. Excellent pizza, very nice staff and truly superb - if you're in the mood for something other than pizza - linguine al vongole (most nights with fresh clams.)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: estone888

                              I think La Fornaretta is remodeling or closed. Does anyone know?

                              1. re: misseatalot

                                They're closed as of early October. The Scientology people bought the building and have thrown everyone out. They want to move and are looking at other spaces in Pasadena, but haven't found anything yet. Really sad news - their pizza was fantastic.

                                They had to close the San Marino location last year - the city was giving them too many problems.

                            2. This is not about pizza but since you're new in town, I consider it my blood oath as a Chowhound to let you know that you're in the epicenter of fantastic, authentic, regional Chinese food... from Northern Chinese muslim lamb dishes to spicy sichuan hotpot to Taiwanese stinky tofu, you're right there.

                              Search the Los Angeles board for Chinese in Arcadia, Monterey Park and San Gabriel to find countless listings from enthusiastic posters.

                              An easy start is to Din Tai Fung in Arcadia (right next to you) and get the pork and crab juicy dumplings... filled with soup and succulent crab and pork meat. Yum!

                              Mr Taster

                              P.S. Pasadena used to have pretty good New York pizza at Lamonica's in old town, but sadly that location closed down several years ago.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                Lamonicas is still going in downtown LA, 518 W 6th.

                                1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                                  and in westwood as well, if I'm not mistaken...

                                  Mr Taster

                              2. Why not try the pizza at Briganti in South Pas?

                                1. It's not great but Costco (there's one in Alhambra) has a box of 3 thin crust Palermo's (no relation to the Los Feliz restaurant) margherita pizzas for a good price. Pretty good actually.

                                  1. La Maschera on fair oaks.

                                    1. As mentioned before, Zelo in Arcadia is not traditional but I had the best Potato Pancetta Pizza there last night - really terrific stuff

                                      1. There are three places I would recommend in the general Pasadena area for thin crust pizza that I think you will enjoy. My first choice would be the original Domenico's in Pasadena; my second choice would be Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock; and my third choice would be Petrillo's in San Gabriel. Domenico's is more like New York-style, with plenty of cheese, sauce, and toppings; Casa Bianca is more Chicago-style, with the crust being very thin plus the cheese, sauce, and toppings being tasty but less voluminous; and the regular Petrillo's pizza is pan-shaped, square-cut, and has crust that is Sicilian-style thick, with New York-style substantial cheese and sauce and toppings - though an off-the-menu secret is to ask them to bake the pizza with thin crust that is pan-shaped and pan-sliced.

                                        Domenico's
                                        2411 East Washington Boulevard
                                        Pasadena, CA 91104-204
                                        (626) 797-6459
                                        http://www.originaldomenicos.com/
                                        Open Tue-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-10:30pm; Sun, 11am-9pm; closed Monday

                                        Casa Bianca
                                        1650 Colorado Boulevard
                                        Los Angeles, CA 90041-1436
                                        (323) 256-9617
                                        http://www.casabiancapizza.com/
                                        Open Tue-Thu, 4pm-12am; Fri-Sat, 4pm-1am; closed Sunday and Monday; and call before going in August, when the family takes vacation and closes the restaurant

                                        Petrillo's Pizza Restaurant
                                        833 East Valley Boulevard
                                        San Gabriel, CA 91776-3643
                                        (626) 280-7332
                                        http://petrillositalianrestaurant.com/
                                        Open Mon-Thu and Sun, 11:30 am-9:30 pm; Fri-Sat, 11:30 am-11 pm

                                        -----
                                        Petrillo's Pizza Restaurant
                                        833 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: PHS

                                          Love me a very, very thin double pepperoni & sausage from Domenico's Monrovia. Here is an image of a recent pie:

                                          http://www.waynefrost.com/Portfolio/F...

                                        2. Regarding Casa Bianca-- I just don't get it. The pizza is average at best; the notoriety it gets is a total mystery to me. Anyway, for NY style pizza, the best in the area is Mamma's Brick Oven on Fair Oaks in South Pasadena. The crust only stays crispy for a few minutes, so eat it there by the slice or take it home and re-heat the bottom quickly on a hot grill or skillet.

                                          17 Replies
                                          1. re: ib_me

                                            To get Casa Bianca I think it helps to enjoy Chicago-style pizza that has very thin crust that practically cracks and sublime amounts of toppings. It also helps if you have not had to wait for an eternity for taking out or eating in during peak hours. Finally, it will probably also help to order something other than a basic pepperoni to distinguish from the competition and take advantage of their fresh toppings - and in this respect I would recommend fresh garlic, Italian sausage (also fresh), and grilled eggplant.

                                            1. re: PHS

                                              I guess I made the mistake of ordering mushrooms on my pizza. They were canned, not fresh. There's nothing special about the crust, sauce or any of the other toppings I had on my second visit. It is a lot like Pink's (Hollywood) or La Super-Rica Taqueria (Santa Barbara), in that I'm totally baffled by long lines for what is a mediocre product.

                                              1. re: ib_me

                                                I suggest you try the Tucci's Special at Tarantino's or one of the interesting pies at The Luggage Room.

                                                -----
                                                Tarantino's Pizzeria
                                                784 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91101

                                                Luggage Room Pizza
                                                260 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                1. re: mc michael

                                                  I'm also enjoying Luggage Room recently. Not perfectly consistent (last time I was there, a bit too much char), but I think their tomato sauce and their crust are pretty solid. I prefer Mozza or Olio, but for someplace close, I think they are really good. Some of the topping combinations are better than others.

                                                  1. re: will47

                                                    Love the crust.

                                                2. re: ib_me

                                                  ib_me, on my first visit to Casa Bianca I made the same mistake re: the mushrooms. What a disappointment.

                                                  But I have to say, PHS is right-- as I noted back in 2005, the eggplant and sausage magically transforms an otherwise unremarkable pie. (I think I got this suggestion originally from Jonathan Gold's old "Counter Intelligence" book.)

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7229...

                                                  Even with the sausage and eggplant, I still don't get the lines. But I must say, if you've made the mistake of only ordering the tacos from La Super Rica, they are the worst items on the menu (inexplicably dry, flavorless). Order the Super-Rica Especial or the chorizo especial (or the pozole blackboard special on the weekend) and then tell me whether or not it's worth the wait.

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: ib_me

                                                    "I guess I made the mistake of ordering mushrooms on my pizza. They were canned, not fresh." The late owner of Casa Bianca, who worked right up to his death well into his 80s, was famous (or notorious, if you will) for proclaiming that fresh mushrooms have no place on a true pizza; the proper pizza mushrooms, he said, are canned. I'm not sure whether he had empirical evidence or any research to back this up. I think it's more likely that he wanted every pizza to taste just like his first one did, and regarded that as the utter pinnacle of pizza perfection. What I am sure of is that I've enjoyed my few Casa Bianca pizzas very much, canned funghi and all.

                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                      He was right. Fresh button mushrooms are bad for pizzas, they burn too easily. Canned button mushrooms, with their higher moisture content, stand up much better in the oven.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        It's such a lovely occasion when we can actually agree on something, ipse! Yup, now that I think of it (lots of dead or dormant cells up there requiring periodic recharge), I do believe he mentioned exactly that. And exactly that is my experience with more than a few pizzas with fresh mushrooms.

                                                        Some dishes simply require canned foods; vitello tonnato and salade Niçoise (both requiring canned tuna) leap immediately to mind. Or what's left of it …

                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                          I'm just talking about those white button mushrooms.

                                                          Other 'shrooms? Fresh, please.

                                                          Cheers.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            As I know of no pizza parlors purveying pies with morels or chanterelles, the subject would seem to be moot. Anyone adorning a pizza with anything other than the ordinary everyday garden-variety button thing is IMO just being silly, or showing off (which is the same thing). Pizza is street food, even if Nancy Silverton does it. Okay, I could see a deliberately fine-fungus-heavy pizza, with some of every variety that guy at the South Pas FM has for sale, but we're talking red-sauce oldfashioned pizza-parlor pizza here. Canned buttons half-immersed between the pepperoni slices.

                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                              Canned button mushrooms are definitely much better than uncooked button mushrooms sliced and put directly on the pizza, and I think the canned ones work at certain types of places (Tony's in San Marino, for example). However, I have had sauteed cultivated mushrooms (cremini, button, etc.) as well as more exotic varieties on pizza that work pretty well.

                                                              The thing that bugs me the most (and it's not just with pizza, but happens often) is when a place advertises their "wild mushroom" pizza. The pizza inevitably is has mostly (or, more often, entirely) cultivated mushrooms on it (cremini, shitake, oyster, etc.).

                                                              1. re: will47

                                                                will47, I think they refer to those as "wild mushrooms" because that's how they're sold (and priced!) in lots of stores, regardless of where they grew or were grown. The term has come to mean damn near everything that's not a white button, another failure of the Food Police. Just another way to justify charging $12/lb, as though they'd been harvested by some sturdy forest-dweller with a basket.

                                                              2. re: Will Owen

                                                                The best mushroom slice I ever ate was at DiFara in Brooklyn (years ago before they became internet stars).

                                                                Imagine one of their perfect slices, with a ladle of porcini mushrooms in a deep green extra virgin olive oil.

                                                                You can stick your canned mushrooms in that pipe and smoke it :)

                                                                Mr Taster

                                                        2. re: Will Owen

                                                          I guess I like canned mushrooms although I am not a huge fan of Casa Bianca. However, I have been extremely pleased with the pizzas I have been getting from Big Mamas & Papas recently. They are so good! Well done, of course!

                                                    2. re: ib_me

                                                      Casa Bianca is way too inconsistent. One time great pizza, the next time a burnt pizza or soggy crust. I always get the sausage, which is full of fennel.

                                                      Got a fresh pie at Mamma's and eat it right there, not impressed at all.

                                                      Going to try Nonna's, soon. But, it won't be today, with all the people and traffic in Pasadena today!!

                                                      1. re: reality check

                                                        Nonna's has become our default Pasadena pizza choice.

                                                    3. For NY style pizza near Pasadena, I like Brownstone Pizza in Eagle Rock. Unfortunately, their Pasadena location closed, but Eagle Rock is not too far.

                                                      -----
                                                      Brownstone Pizza
                                                      2108 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

                                                      1. I second Jack Flash on Nonna's. They're the only non-family member on my home land-line speed dial. It's everything I want in a pizza. Plus friendly delivery.

                                                        -----
                                                        Nonna Pizzeria
                                                        818 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

                                                        1. Try Mammas Brick Oven Pizza in South Pas. Probably closest you'll get to NY Style in the area.

                                                          http://www.mammasbrickoven.com/

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: phil7269

                                                            Mamma's is OK, but Nonna's just down the street is better.

                                                          2. It's not NY style pizza, but I love Charlie's Trio!!

                                                            http://www.charliestrio.com/

                                                            -----
                                                            Charlie's Trio
                                                            5769 Huntington Dr N, Los Angeles, CA 90032