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REVIEW: Vito's, West Hollywood

Das Ubergeek Apr 23, 2007 07:43 PM

Today was one of those days. I had a terrible headache and was not about to work late into the night. As I pulled out of the parking lot I realised that I had three days' worth of meals and four days in which to eat them -- whoops. I had also driven to work, which is unusual.

"Hm. I wonder how far Vito's is? Everyone raves about it. It'll be just like all the other so-called New York style pizza parlours but I might as well see."

A couple of minutes (pulled over to the side, natch!) on the nav system and I realised that Vito's is not, er, exactly on the way from Burbank to Anaheim.

By this point, though, I had the chase in my heart and lust in my... never mind. My mind did its best ("you know that at any given moment in the City of West Hollywood there are three parking spots and all three are taken by men with less body fat than your ring finger, right?") but it was no chance.

God must have wanted me to eat at Vito's, because every single traffic light -- yes, every one all the way down Olive, all the way down Highland, out through Boystown on SM Blvd. -- was green and clear of traffic. It took me twelve minutes to get there. There was even -- GASP -- parking in the lot (it's in an ugly little incongruous minimall on the east side of the street).

I walked in. There were pies congealing in the display in the front and all of like 10 tables in the restaurant. I was one of two people in there (okay, it was REALLY early -- dinner in WeHo is from 7-9 PM, this was like 5:30). Vito was puttering around in the back, and Tony Squared were up at the counter and making dough.

"Two slices sausage and a slice plain," I said.

"This your first time here?" asked Tony.

"Yep. Some people told me this is where it's at."

"Then the plain slice is on me. You wanna drink?"

"Soda."

"You got it."

I sat down with my Diet Coke and scoped out the decor while I waited. Not the actual decor -- it's a fake art deco minimall with those God-awful f***ing glass block walls. No, I mean the pizza decor. You can tell a LOT about a pizzeria by what's on the tables. Linen napkins? Not the right place. Powdered "parmesan" cheese and hot peppers? Owned by people who've never been east of Pittsburgh (which is still the Midwest as far as pizza is concerned). Red and white checkered tablecloths? Maybe, but more likely trying too hard. We New Jerseyites (and those other, lesser, f***in' New Yorkers) eat our pizza with dried oregano and powdered garlic.

Vito's has paper napkins in appropriately boring metal napkin dispensers, white butcher paper on the tables, and while the Parmesan and hot peppers were on the table, tucked up on the counter above the dough prep area was the good stuff.

The pizza came out and the smell made tears rose to my eyes. I'm getting misty just thinking about it. I'm trying to remain calm but

THIS IS THE BEST F***ING PIZZA I'VE HAD WEST OF THE DELAWARE RIVER, EVER AT ANY TIME BAR NONE BOY HOWDY. STOP READING THIS, HAUL ASS UP THERE AND GET SOME.

It was... perfect. The sauce had that peculiarly New York tang to it (what causes that, anyway??), the cheese was right and just barely starting to brown in parts, the crust was FLAT but still chewy, the sausage was sliced off actual sausages and not that rabbit-pellet crap everyone else uses.

"How d'ya like it?" asked the other Tony.

"Mmmmrffffff mrrffff fmmmmm-mm LMMMMF MMMMF," I replied.

"That good, huh?"

*swallow* "I grew up in Woodbridge, New Jersey. This tastes like home."

"Really? We're from Elizabeth."

"Oh, my dad was a cop there."

We ended up talking for a while. It was delicious, the banter was just what it is at home (with the same accent -- the other guy in there was from Garfield, N.J. and had his accent intact. Mine's been ruined by years of vocal training), it was perfect.

Go. Try it. If you're lucky enough to live in West Hollywood, they'll deliver or do carryout. They're not one of those "la la la, we are the special pizza, you will come to us, ha ha" places -- it's the pizzeria of my youth transported to the Land of Drag Queens and Club Kids. Lucky club kids. Me, I'm thinking about the logistics of getting an entire fresh pie home to Anaheim intact. Maybe if they par-bake it and I finish it in an oven set to 550 F... hm.

Vito's Pizza
846 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 652-6859
http://www.vitopizza.com

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  1. b
    Burger Boy RE: Das Ubergeek Apr 23, 2007 07:48 PM

    You know they are from Jersey.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Burger Boy
      Das Ubergeek RE: Burger Boy Apr 23, 2007 07:50 PM

      Yep. From Elizabeth.

      1. re: Das Ubergeek
        b
        Burger Boy RE: Das Ubergeek Apr 23, 2007 07:53 PM

        i should read the whole post before i reply next time, sorry.

    2. wizardx RE: Das Ubergeek Apr 23, 2007 08:47 PM

      great review.. welcome to the crack addiction like effects of Vito's, so cool that you have a history in NJ . I don't know if Vito's is the BEST ... I just know I am a serious pizzaholic... (3-4 times a week sometimes) and I crave Vito's .......often.

      1. n
        Newkie RE: Das Ubergeek Apr 23, 2007 09:14 PM

        Tried Vito's last week. Only had the plain and was completely won over. It was the closest thing I've seen to a NY pizza since moving to LA and a serious contender for best pizza in LA period. Love that they give fresh parm to top your pizza and yes, the service is friendly and helpful.

        1. justanotherpenguin RE: Das Ubergeek Apr 23, 2007 09:23 PM

          i'm relatively new to chowhound. have been reading about this "vito" place and went yesterday (sunday). my wife and i spent a couple of weeks in italy back in january, and this was, without a doubt, the best thin crust pizza that we've had since we returned!

          the counter guy (antonio, a cousin of vito's) had never seen us before, so he bought us each a slice while we waited for our pizza to cook. we had a veggie and a pepperoni - delicious! it doesn't hurt that they sell some decent red wine by the bottle!

          while our sausage, pepperoni, meatball & onion pizza baked, we got to talk to vito and his brother mario, and several of the customers - one visiting from new york. what characters! and they certainly make one feel welcome. we had a great time and very much enjoyed the pizza. we did agree, though, that the 2nd & 3rd slices were better than the 1st. it is a bit soggy in the center when it first comes out of the oven, but give it about five minutes and....... wow!

          we will definitely be going back. asked if they would deliver to la canada, but their delivery radius is a mile. (mario did tell us that they have a customer in malibu who pays a driver $50 to deliver his pizza - i believe it!).

          go and enjoy!

          1. j
            jlq3d3 RE: Das Ubergeek Apr 23, 2007 10:02 PM

            What is the seating like. Are there enough tables, or is it more of a takeout place? Can a group of more than 2 easily eat here?

            3 Replies
            1. re: jlq3d3
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              fooddude37 RE: jlq3d3 Apr 24, 2007 12:30 AM

              Tiny. I think there's only 3 tables inside that can fit more than 2, and one table outside. This place is seriously as small as an average home dining room.

              1. re: jlq3d3
                SauceSupreme RE: jlq3d3 Apr 24, 2007 12:37 AM

                Parking is also a pain, especially if you have a large vehicle.

                1. re: SauceSupreme
                  b
                  Burger Boy RE: SauceSupreme Apr 24, 2007 06:05 AM

                  I have had an easy time parking my expedition and pathfinder, in the lot everytime except once, then i got the first space on the street next to the drive way. Parking here is so much easier that their old place and maybe in the summer they can put a few more tables outside, if it is allowed.

              2. David Kahn RE: Das Ubergeek Apr 24, 2007 10:10 AM

                Have you (or any of the other Vito's aficionados) had pizza at Regina's in Boston's Nouth End, and if so, how does Vito's compare?

                1 Reply
                1. re: David Kahn
                  Das Ubergeek RE: David Kahn Apr 24, 2007 11:19 AM

                  I have never spent much time in Boston. I'm a Jersey boy; thus, this is the one exception to the rule that pizza made outside of 50 miles from Central Park is not worth eating. :)

                2. Schweinhaxen RE: Das Ubergeek Apr 24, 2007 01:45 PM

                  Not afraid to say it..... The best ny style pizza in LA. Vito and his crew know how to make a mean white pizza, and an awesome slice o cheese. muuuzzarella, maybe some breadsticks and you have a great evening or lunch ahead of you. Go there!!

                  1. c
                    cecibean RE: Das Ubergeek Apr 24, 2007 02:11 PM

                    It's true. Without a doubt, Vito's is the best. The pizza is fantastic but the calzone may be better than any calzone I have had in New York or New Jersey (I have lived both places). The calzone is perfectly puffed and the ricotta, fresh, not pastey. Order it with the home-made meatballs, sausage and fresh spinach and a little red sauce on the side....I want it everyday. My only complaint about Vito's is the clam pie. Not great. It's tough to perfect without fresh clams, so I don't really hold it against them.

                    1. j
                      JimmyC RE: Das Ubergeek Nov 5, 2007 01:22 PM

                      i had vitos at the la italian fest san genaro it wasnt bad im from jersey grew up in newark then colonia then roselle then point plesant i wish i could whisk you guys to spitos in elizabeth or the squan tavern or the star tavern or pats in point my favs are damianos san bagio in upland and a place in grand terrace in stater bros center

                      1. Skunk2Racer RE: Das Ubergeek Nov 5, 2007 03:42 PM

                        Sorry But I'm the Lone critic here. I've had many pizzas from all over. I make my own from scratch, dough, sauce etc. And My encounter at Vito's was one of the worst pizza's my father and I have ever tasted. The Pie was Large BUT the crust was too thin and chewey, The Toppings were Almost Non Exsistent, We Ate the whole $30 pie and after we were Both Hungry. Sorry but Vito's is NOT MY CUP OF TEA.... However it was VERY amusing to hear Vito talk with another patron, he Said the "F" word every other word. Reminded me of my First Supervisor at DWP LOL

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Skunk2Racer
                          Servorg RE: Skunk2Racer Nov 5, 2007 04:02 PM

                          I note that you posted in another pizza thread that you liked the plain (except for pepperoni) at Maria's across from the Westside Pavillion on Pico. Is that a better pizza than Vito's produces in your opinion?

                          1. re: Servorg
                            Skunk2Racer RE: Servorg Nov 11, 2007 09:35 AM

                            A very different pizza. Maria's the crust is much more thick. More sauce & cheese. But Yes i would prefer Maria's over vitos. The only thing about maria's is you have to Only have a few toppings, If you get the deluxe the pizza gets soggy.

                        2. f
                          FKA Andrew RE: Das Ubergeek Nov 5, 2007 04:33 PM

                          Really enjoyed the white slices I had at Vito's. The ricotta makes the pizza out of this world. The crust is thin and has a nice bite to it. The best slice of pizza I have ever eaten.

                          My only complaints are the blah salad and the order of food service. I made essentially the same order both times I was there. A few slices of pizza, a salad, and bread sticks. I have never worked in a kitchen or in front of the house but just because I ordered the pizza first doesn't mean that I it should come first. Apparently the default at Vito's is pizza first and everything else whenever.

                          The salad came after the pizza and the bread sticks cam long after the pizza. Next time I will make sure to avoid the salad and will ask for the amazing bread sticks to come before the pizza so that I can have a dining experience.

                          1. w
                            woofer RE: Das Ubergeek Nov 11, 2007 09:04 AM

                            i went there last night to try. i'm from jersey, this pizza is not. i was not ata ll impressed with their pizza. first off, i ate there so right off the pizza was not fresh. the only thing that was good was the thin crust.

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